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Complying Development Retaining Wall Guide

Simplifying the complying development process for retaining walls in NSW and Sydney. 

The complying development process refers to a streamlined planning and building approval pathway available in most parts of Sydney and New South Wales. It aims to expedite the approval process for straightforward development projects that meet specific predetermined standards and criteria. The process is designed to provide a quicker and more efficient alternative to the traditional development application process.

This complying development guide will help demystify and guide you through the complying development legislation and rules.

 

The complying development process

Although it is a streamlined building approval process, the complying development approval process from start to finish can still be confusing at times.

Here is a quick step-by-step guide to help you understand it all.

A breakdown of the complying development process, from start to finish →

 

Working out whether complying development is possible

There are plenty of reasons why a complying development approval is not allowed on your lot of land. Below is a list of the most common problems that will prevent your complying development approval in Sydney:

    • The location of the proposed and existing building/s
    • Identification of the proposed building elements and the existing building elements
    • Setbacks and boundaries
    • Lot size
    • Lot dimensions
    • Dimensions of the retaining wall
    • Building line width
    • Existing ground levels
    • Existing vegetation and buildings on the site
    • Easements
    • Landscaped areas
    • Retaining walls and extent of proposed earthworks
    • Compliance table providing key design information such as:
          • landscaping area (m2)
          • landscaping area behind the building line (m2)
          • landscaping area in front of the building line (m2)
          • private open space (m2).
      •  

      Elevation Plans

      • Dimensioned heights, including the overall height;
      • Existing ground levels;
      • Proposed external materials
      • Retaining wall, cut and fill heights/depths above/below existing ground level
      •  

      Section Plan

      • Dimensioned heights, including the overall height;
      • Existing ground levels;
      • Proposed external materials
      • Retaining wall, cut and fill heights/depths above/below existing ground level
      •  
      •  

      Explanations about the other documentation needed

       

      Section 10.7 Planning Certificate

      A Section 10.7 Planning Certificate is a legal document that confirms the zoning and applicable rules for the development of your property. You can purchase a planning certificate from your local council website.

      Building Specification

      Many design decisions and building details cannot be expressed in graphic form and therefore instead need to rely upon the text. Details and design decisions that cannot be shown on plans may be detailed in a building specification which complements the plans.

       

      Survey Plan

      A survey plan from a registered surveyor should show the position of all existing structures, with floor level & ridge height of the main building, the front setbacks of the two closet neighbouring dwellings (within 40m) on the same side of the street, existing ground levels and existing vegetation and building on the site.

       

      Engineering Plans & Documentation

      Structural engineering designs that are more than 600mm require a structural engineering plan to confirm the retaining wall design is structurally sound, including in relation to (but not limited to) the ability to withstand the forces of lateral soil load.

       

      Certificate of Title

      A certificate of title confirms the official ownership of land. It also confirms if any easements and positive covenants are present on the lot. You can purchase the certificate of title from any of these documentation brokers.

      88B Instrument

      If the certificate of title confirms either an easement or positive covenant is present on the lot, a 88B instrument and deposited plan must be purchased to provide further details about the easement and/or positive covenant. You can purchase the 88B instrument from any of these documentation brokers.

      Deposited Plan

      If the certificate of title confirms either an easement or positive covenant is present on the lot, a deposited plan must be purchased to provide further details about the easement and/or positive covenant. You can purchase a deposited plan from any of these documentation brokers.

      Long Service Levy Receipt

      The long service levy is applied to all NSW building and construction projects of $250,000 or more (inc. GST). The current rate is 0.25% of the total cost of the work. You can calculate the long service levy amount here.

       

      Sydney Water Building Approval

      Sydney Water must check your plans to make sure building work will not damage any water, wastewater pipes or structures on your property. If your proposed building works are close to Sydney Water pipes in the ground, your plans may need to be submitted to a Sydney Water Service Coordinator for further review and approval. Here is a video explaining the Sydney Water Building Approval process, if you need further help. 

       

      Bushfire attack level (BAL) report

      Only required if the Planning Certificate confirms the lot is bushfire affected. The report, prepared by a bushfire consultant, will determine the bushfire attack level (BAL) specific to the lot. Remember, if the result of this assessment is BAL40 or BALFZ, unfortunately, complying development is not permissible.

       

      Flood engineering report

      Only required if the Planning Certificate confirms the lot is flood affected. The report, prepared by a flood/civil engineer, will list and detail how the proposed design complies with the requirements in clause 3.5 of the complying development legislation.

        • Zone – if the lot zone isn’t R1, R2, R3, R4 or RU5
        • Lot size – if the lot is less than 200m2
        • Lot width at the building line – if the lot width is less than 6m
        • Bushfire – the lot cannot be BAL40 or BALFZ
        • Flood-prone land – if the engineer cannot certify compliance with clause 3.5
        • Landslide risk – if the land is identified as susceptible to landslide risk
        • Too many dwellings on the lot – if there is more than 1 dwelling on the lot
        • Easements – if the proposed building is located over a registered easements

        •  

        Want to learn more? Here is a NSW government guide to provide additional complying development certificate  information →

        The complying development design requirements

        When using the complying development building approval pathway, you must comply with all the applicable rules and clauses. If you do not comply with a particular clause, complying development is not possible.

        For a retaining wall complying development approval, you should review the clauses listed below and ensure the architectural plans and all other documentation address and comply with the following clauses:

        The information you need on architectural plans

        The following is a general guide that outlines the information that should be detailed within the complying development certificate architectural plans. All plans must be specific to the subject building, cover the entire scope of the building work and should include:

        All Plans

          • A title block that includes the project address, lot details, drawing revisions and numbers
          • A key for abbreviations, colouring and hatchings and a north point

          •  

          Site Plan

            • The location of the proposed and existing building/s
            • Identification of the proposed building elements and the existing building elements
            • Setbacks and boundaries
            • Lot size
            • Lot dimensions
            • Dimensions of the retaining wall
            • Building line width
            • Existing ground levels
            • Existing vegetation and buildings on the site
            • Easements
            • Landscaped areas
            • Retaining walls and extent of proposed earthworks
            • Compliance table providing key design information such as:
                  • landscaping area (m2)
                  • landscaping area behind the building line (m2)
                  • landscaping area in front of the building line (m2)
                  • private open space (m2).
              •  

              Elevation Plans

              • Dimensioned heights, including the overall height;
              • Existing ground levels;
              • Proposed external materials
              • Retaining wall, cut and fill heights/depths above/below existing ground level
              •  

              Section Plan

              • Dimensioned heights, including the overall height;
              • Existing ground levels;
              • Proposed external materials
              • Retaining wall, cut and fill heights/depths above/below existing ground level
              •  
              •  

              Explanations about the other documentation needed

               

              Section 10.7 Planning Certificate

              A Section 10.7 Planning Certificate is a legal document that confirms the zoning and applicable rules for the development of your property. You can purchase a planning certificate from your local council website.

              Building Specification

              Many design decisions and building details cannot be expressed in graphic form and therefore instead need to rely upon the text. Details and design decisions that cannot be shown on plans may be detailed in a building specification which complements the plans.

               

              Survey Plan

              A survey plan from a registered surveyor should show the position of all existing structures, with floor level & ridge height of the main building, the front setbacks of the two closet neighbouring dwellings (within 40m) on the same side of the street, existing ground levels and existing vegetation and building on the site.

               

              Engineering Plans & Documentation

              Structural engineering designs that are more than 600mm require a structural engineering plan to confirm the retaining wall design is structurally sound, including in relation to (but not limited to) the ability to withstand the forces of lateral soil load.

               

              Certificate of Title

              A certificate of title confirms the official ownership of land. It also confirms if any easements and positive covenants are present on the lot. You can purchase the certificate of title from any of these documentation brokers.

              88B Instrument

              If the certificate of title confirms either an easement or positive covenant is present on the lot, a 88B instrument and deposited plan must be purchased to provide further details about the easement and/or positive covenant. You can purchase the 88B instrument from any of these documentation brokers.

              Deposited Plan

              If the certificate of title confirms either an easement or positive covenant is present on the lot, a deposited plan must be purchased to provide further details about the easement and/or positive covenant. You can purchase a deposited plan from any of these documentation brokers.

              Long Service Levy Receipt

              The long service levy is applied to all NSW building and construction projects of $250,000 or more (inc. GST). The current rate is 0.25% of the total cost of the work. You can calculate the long service levy amount here.

               

              Sydney Water Building Approval

              Sydney Water must check your plans to make sure building work will not damage any water, wastewater pipes or structures on your property. If your proposed building works are close to Sydney Water pipes in the ground, your plans may need to be submitted to a Sydney Water Service Coordinator for further review and approval. Here is a video explaining the Sydney Water Building Approval process, if you need further help. 

               

              Bushfire attack level (BAL) report

              Only required if the Planning Certificate confirms the lot is bushfire affected. The report, prepared by a bushfire consultant, will determine the bushfire attack level (BAL) specific to the lot. Remember, if the result of this assessment is BAL40 or BALFZ, unfortunately, complying development is not permissible.

               

              Flood engineering report

              Only required if the Planning Certificate confirms the lot is flood affected. The report, prepared by a flood/civil engineer, will list and detail how the proposed design complies with the requirements in clause 3.5 of the complying development legislation.

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