FAQs

Common questions asked when undertaking building, development and renovating.

When do I need to get development approval

Please note, the information provided is only intended to be a summary. All applications are considered on their individual merits and therefore situations may vary.

Please contact the duty planner to check whether your ideas require development approval before you start work. 

 

A Duty Planner is available at Council to provide advice on technical planning matters. The Planner is available for general appointments (no more than 15 minutes) during office hours Monday to Friday with the exception of Wednesday mornings. Visit the Civic Centre during these times, phone (08) 8372 5111 or email pobox1@unley.sa.gov.au with your planning enquiry.

No development can commence without written Development Approval from Council. If you are intending to undertake any of the following activities, you will need to obtain Development Approval from Council before commencing the work:

  • Demolish, construct, add or alter a building
  • Erect a sign
  • Change the use of a property
  • Any tree damaging activity to a regulated or significant tree
  • Any external alteration (and in some case also internal alterations) of a listed heritage item
  • Divide or alter the boundary of an allotment

Your application will be assessed against the objectives and principles of the City of Unley Development Plan, with the application process determined by the Development Act 1993 and Development Regulations 2008. The Development Plan divides the Council area into Zones and Policy Areas, with different policies applicable to each.

No development can commence without written Development Approval from Council

Preliminary Applications

Preliminary advice may be sought from our Development team. These requests for preliminary advice must be accompanied by relevant information such as plans, information of the proposal, subdivision layout and operational information.

The intent of the preliminary advice is to provide broad comment on the proposed development and the information submitted, as well as indicating the issues that the Council considers should be addressed during the development assessment stage. Other issues may arise depending on the final design of the development and the advice cannot address all matters that will need to be considered by the Council once a Development Application is lodged.

Preliminary advice does not constitute formal approval or refusal.

 Preliminary Advice Application(PDF, 432KB)

Developments Exempt from Planning Approval  

Some minor building projects such as erecting a shed, retaining wall or fence do not normally require approval as they are considered to have little impact on the surrounding environment, neighbouring properties and community.

You are welcome to contact our Duty Planner for confirmation that your building work will not require approval.

The Duty Planner is available for general appointments (no longer than 15 minutes) during office hours Monday to Friday with the exception of Wednesday mornings. Visit the Civic Centre during these times, phone (08) 8372 5111 or email pobox1@unley.sa.gov.au with your planning enquiry.

Does demolition need development approval?

Before you can demolish any building, you need development approval. To find out more about demolition and what you need to do to apply for development approval, download the Demolition Application Form and Fact Sheet including the Details of Demolition Form.

Understand the Development Application Process

What is the difference between planning and building?

Planning Consent is the first step in the Development Application Process. Planning is the concept - what do you want to do? Where will your house, addition or garage etc be located on your block of land? What will it look like? Where in relation to all of the other buildings, structures and trees on your land and on your neighbours'? Will there be overshadowing or overlooking issues? How much private open area will you have?

Building Rules Consent is the second step in the Development Application Process. This is where we consider the physical construction details - the specifications (what materials you're using), the footing details and/or engineer's report (how you'll make your building stand up), working drawings (how your building will be constructed) etc.

You can apply for Planning Consent and Building Rules Consent at the same time if you wish. However you will need BOTH Planning Consent AND Building Rules Consent to get Development Approval.

For further information or assistance please contact Council's Development team on 8372 5111 or view the State Government Guide to Development Assessment.

What is the zoning of my property?

To find out the zoning of your property, please refer to the Planning Development Map or State Government Map Viewer.

How long will it take to get development approval?

The approval time for applications differs depending on the complexity of your application. If we need to notify your application, it may take up to two months for approval. This time frame may increase if we need to ask for more information, if we receive representations from notified parties, or if the application needs to be assessed by the Council Assessment Panel.

What details do I need to provide for development approval?

You need to supply two copies of your plans and all other documentation (which includes footing and engineer's reports, specifications, copy of Certificate of Title etc). You will also need to complete an application form and pay the appropriate fees.

To find out what you need to provide for Planning Consent and Building Consent go to the 

What is a Development Plan?

Each Council has a Development Plan, which sets out planning and development objectives or principles relating to:

  • The constructed environment and environmentally sustainable development
  • Social or socio-economic issues
  • Urban or regional planning issues
  • The management or conservation of land
  • Buildings, heritage places and heritage areas
  • The management, conservation and use of natural and other resources
  • Economic issues.

 Unley's Development Plan sets out planning zones, lists complying and non-complying land uses within each zone, and determines development techniques and criteria.

Every Development Plan and Development Plan Amendment requires the relevant Minister's, and ultimately Parliament's, approval. To read more about Development Plans, Zones and DPA's visit our Development Plan & Zoning page.

Who is responsible for Damage to Council Infrastructure caused as part of a development?

The responsibility to repair any damage to council infrastructure at the completion of a development is that of the applicant / owner.

All repairs to damage footpaths and roads caused due to the construction of an approved development should be repaired before hand over or soon after to avoid any extra cost to repair damaged Council infrastructure. All work is to be done in accordance to Council specifications and guild lines.

If there is damage that has not been repaired Council will assess and send a notice to repair the damaged infrastructure. If Council are to conduct the required repairs, an invoice will be attached for the cost of repairs requiring payment. 

Costs to repair damaged infrastructure would be at the cost of the applicant/owner.

When do I require Building Indemnity Insurance?

All residential development with more than $12,000 in estimated cost needs "Building Indemnity Insurance" unless the developer is an owner/builder or the builder is not known when the application is lodged. In the latter case, a condition requesting submission of the Building Indemnity Insurance is placed on the approval. If you intend to be an owner/builder, by law you must engage a registered site supervisor.

If the developer has a Builder's Licence then he/she is required to take out Building Indemnity Insurance even if the developer is the owner of the property (unless the licence is a Supervisor's Licence).

Building Indemnity Insurance lapses after five years.

Are there any special requirements if I am an owner builder?

 If you are going to be responsible for undertaking building work as an owner/builder, you must engage a registered Building Work Supervisor and provide the details to us by completing a Registered Building Work Supervisor Details form(PDF, 53KB) .

After I get my approval, when can I start work?

You have 12 months from the date of your Development Approval to start work (this usually means laying the footings) and three years from the date of your Development Approval to substantially finish the work.

There are certain steps you have to take to ensure that your consent or approval remains valid. For further information view the How Long is my Approval Valid(PDF, 174KB) factsheet. 

What is CAP?

CAP is the abbreviation for Council Assessment Panel (formerly known as the Development Assessment Panel or DAP). The CAP is a body of people who consider and make decisions on some development applications in their Council area. The role of the CAP is to make impartial and transparent development assessment decisions based on the policies in the Development Plan.

Read more about CAP and view previous meetings, agendas and minutes.

Find out about significant trees

What is a significant tree?

A regulated tree is any tree in metropolitan Adelaide, Adelaide Hills Council townships and parts of the Mount Barker Council with a trunk circumference of 2m or more (measured at a point 1m above natural ground level). In the case of trees with multiple trunks, regulated trees are those with trunks having a total circumference of 2m or more and an average circumference of 625mm or more (measured at a point 1m above natural ground level).

A significant tree is a regulated tree in metropolitan Adelaide, Adelaide Hills Council townships and parts of the Mount Barker Council with a trunk circumference of 3m or more (measured at a point 1m above natural ground level). In the case of trees with multiple trunks, significant trees are those with trunks having a total circumference of 3m or more and an average circumference of 625mm or more (measured at a point 1m above natural ground level).

A significant tree may be listed in a local council development plan.

Some trees may be exempt from regulated and significant tree controls either because of their location or their species.

It is recommended you contact your local council to find out if the regulated tree legislation applies in your area or if a tree is listed in the development plan or exempt from controls.

For more information view the SA Government’s Community Information Sheet and Council’s Fact Sheet on Regulated and Significant Trees(PDF, 155KB)

 

Cutting Down / pruning a tree at the fenceline (between private property)

Pruning back a regulated tree's branches or roots that are encroaching on your property does not require development consent unless it is likely to affect the health and appearance of the tree. For further information please contact the Legal Services Commission.

Where cutting back the tree would result in damage to the tree (including root damage), you will be required to seek Development Approval from Council for any works on your side of the common property boundary.

If you have any concerns on work being undertaken on a Significant or Private Tree, please contact Council on (08) 8372 5111.

Private Trees

The law about neighbours' rights and responsibilities for trees is covered by the common law of nuisance. Information on your rights and responsibilities as a tree owner can be found on the Legal Services Commission Website. Most general questions can be answered with the Trees and the Law Handbook.

Change my fencing

Do I need development approval to build a fence?

In some cases you will need development approval to build a fence.

 

Which kind of fence is right for my property ? 

View a range of useful guides to development to choose the appropriate fence to match your home.

Change the use of my property

If you intending on undertaking any building work or seeking to change the land use of a property you may require Development Approval from the City of Unley. 

A Duty Planner is available to speak with between the office hours Monday to Friday with the exception of Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoons. Visit the Civic Centre during these times, phone (08) 8372 5111 or email pobox1@unley.sa.gov.au with your planning enquiry.

To view the current zoning/use of your property please refer to the Planning Development Map or State Government Map Viewer.

Other permits/ regulations

If you obtain a planning permit from Council to change the use of your property, before you commence, you may also need a Building permit – if any structural re-modelling is required, or the ‘class’ or category/type of the building use/ occupancy changes.

 

Businesses may also require

  • Health permit – depending on the type of use (eg. Hairdressing salon, hotel).
  • Footpath Trading License – if you wish to place anything on the footpath such as tables and chairs, umbrellas or signs (the planning permit does not include the footpath).
  • Food Safety registration – if you plan to serve or sell food.

Visit our business responsibility page.

 

View historic plans of my property

Viewing previous property plans

As not all properties in the Council area have comprehensive records available, you should first complete the application form Request to view Plans to view what plans are available. Should you wish to have copies of these plans you can make a formal application. If you make a formal application you will be required to pay the relevant fee. 

If you require copies of plans and reports (in paper or electronic format), copyright release may be required from the copyright owner. Records Officers will advise you if this is the case and how this may affect the timeframe for providing the information.

For further information on copyright, visit the Australian Copyright Council website.

Request To View Plans(PDF, 356KB)

Freedom of Information Form(PDF, 313KB)

Get approval to undertake work on Public Land

An application to Alter Public Road Form is required to be submitted to Councils for any works being undertaken on Council land / Public Road and Footpath as part of your development. A separate application form is required for an Underground Electrical Service installation.  

Application is required for the following works:

  • Opening, Closing and the Extending of a Crossover / Driveway
  • Installation of new or replacement of stormwater pipe crossing the footpath or other stormwater installation across council land. (Note a specified class pipe is required across Council footpath. ( Refer to specifications )
  • Any alterations to Council land / roads and footpath
  • Installation for Underground Electrical Service (Underground Electrical service Form).

 

Development Approval and Altering a Public Road

While Development Approval provides authority to develop your private property it does not provide the required approval to conduct works on Council land to alter a public road. If your development requires the removal/ installation of stormwater pipes, create nature strip, repair damaged footway, close/open driveway crossover, extend driveway crossover, removal of council street tree, you are required to lodge an application(PDF, 33KB) providing your Development Approval number and any other information you deem relevant.

Dial before you Dig

Before any excavation is undertaken you are required to make a Dial Before You Dig Enquiry to ensure you do not damage underground infrastructure.

Who is responsible for Damage to Council Infrastructure caused as part of a development?

The responsibility to repair any damage to council infrastructure at the completion of a development is that of the applicant / owner

 All repairs to damage footpaths and roads caused due to the construction of an approved development should be repaired before hand over or soon after to avoid any extra cost to repair damaged Council infrastructure. All work is to be done in accordance to Council specifications and guild lines.

If there is damage that has not been repaired Council will assess and send a notice to repair the damaged infrastructure. If Council are to conduct the required repairs, an invoice will be attached for the cost of repairs requiring payment. 

Costs to repair damaged infrastructure would be at the cost of the applicant/ owner. 

When an applicant wishes to alter Council’s roads they are required to apply for authorisation by completing an Application to Alter a Public Road form(PDF, 313KB).  Council is entitled to exercise the powers under the Local Government Act 1999.

Pursuant to Section 221 of the Local Government Act 1999 to alter the Road for the Term set out in the general conditions below.

General Conditions
The issuing of this Authorisation is subject to:

  • The Applicant agreeing to the General Conditions of Authorisation as contained herein;
  • The Applicant agreeing to any/all Special Conditions and Specifications that the Council may determine and attach to this Authorisation;
  • The Applicant paying the prescribed fee prior to work commencing (if work to be done by Council).
  • The Applicant advising Council on commencement and completion of any works.

General Conditions of Authorisation when works are not carried out by Council
The Applicant agrees:

  1. To using only qualified contractors to carry out the work in accordance with Council specifications when Council is not contracted for the work.
  2. For the term of the Authorisation, to comply with all applicable industry standards, health or safety standards, current standards of Standards Australia or any applicable Code of Practice.
  3. To ensure that all works carried out are undertaken to the highest standard and are carried out promptly and with all due care, skill and diligence.
  4. Pedestrian safety and access to be maintained at all times during construction.
  5. To ensure that any alteration to the road does not interfere with or cause damage to or in any way affect the property of any other person.
  6. To comply with any direction given by any authority, statutory authority or Council to remove, maintain or otherwise modify the alteration to the road subject to this Authorisation.
  7. That all fixtures and equipment erected or installed in, on, across, under or over the road remain the property of the Applicant pursuant to Section 209 of the Local Government Act, 1999.
  8. For the term of the Authorisation, to maintain all fixtures and equipment erected or installed, or vegetation planted, in good condition and to recognised standards.
  9. To indemnify the Council, its servants and/or agents against all actions, costs, claims and demands for injury, loss or damage arising out of any negligent act or omission of the Applicant in relation to the alteration to the road, the granting of this Authorisation and the general and special conditions contained herein and such indemnity shall be in addition to any statutory immunity in favour of the Council.
  10. For the term of the Authorisation, to take out and keep current a public liability policy of insurance to an appropriate level of cover per claim in respect of any negligent act or omission of the Applicant in relation to the alteration to the road or any activity arising out of or from the granting of this Authorisation by the Council.
  11. At the expiration or earlier termination of this Authorisation to remove, if so directed by the Council, any structure or object erected or installed on the road and to reinstate the road to the satisfaction of the Council.
  12. This Authorisation does not confer on the Applicant any exclusive right, entitlement or interest in the road and does not derogate from the Council’s powers arising under the Local Government Act, 1999.