Development Application process

1. Approval requirements

Do I need Development Approval?

In most cases approval is required before you commence any kind of development work. This includes;

  • Demolishing, constructing, adding or altering any building
  • Erecting a sign
  • Putting up a fence (certain fencing and zones impact approval requirements)
  • Changing the use of a property
  • Any type of work that will impact a regulated or significant tree(PDF, 327KB)
  • Any external alterations (and in some case internal alterations) of a listed heritage item
  • Division or alteration of the boundaries of an allotment 

Some minor building projects at home, such as small garden sheds, fencing, or decks may not require Development Approval. You can visit the PlanSA website for further information on whether you require approval by filling in their wizard

We also encourage you to call us before you commence any kind of development work.

Before applying check your zoning

To find out the zoning of your property, which may impact your development approval, please refer to the SA Property and Planning Atlas and the PlanSA website

Approval types

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

Development Plan consent (planning only)

A planning assessment involves assessing the impact of development, including:

  • Potential impact of development upon adjoining buildings, properties and people (e.g. overshadowing, overlooking, and visual dominance)
  • Size, shape, orientation and layout of new allotments
  • Impacts to heritage buildings – this involves building work to a heritage building as well as works adjacent to a heritage building
  • Impact to the character of existing buildings in an existing street or locality
  • Appropriateness of certain land uses, dependant on the relevant zoning

Examples of other criteria considered during assessment are environmental sustainability, access and traffic, and public safety.

This assessment is undertaken against the single state-wide Planning and Design Code. You can find out what policies apply to a development or address, or simply browse the Planning and Design Code in its entirety here

Building Rules consent (building only)

After receiving a planning approval, a building approval is typically required. This involves an appraisal of the design of buildings to ensure the proposed works are in accordance with the Building Code of Australia and relevant Australian Standards; this includes items such as disabled access and fire and life safety systems.

Pre-Application discussion

A pre-application discussion with a Council Planning Officer by phoning (08) 8372 5111 will ensure you have considered  all the relevant issues. We recommend you do this before you submit your application.


2. Preparing and completing a DA

Application Information

Lodging your application with all of the plans and documents required for the type of development you propose is the quickest way to have your application assessed.

Demolition of a building or structure in a Historic Area Overlay requires approval. If the building is considered to demonstrate historic characteristics additional documentation may be required as part of an application.

Please view the development application checklist and demolition guidelines in the historic area overlay(PDF, 733KB)  to ensure that you have all the information you require prior to lodgement as development applications submitted without the correct information will face significant processing delays.

Application fees

All development applications attract fees based on the type of development being proposed. To understand the cost of your proposed development, please view the Development Application Fees. 

Development Fees 2023-2024

Submitting your application

All development applications are now lodged electronically through the PlanSA Portal via this link. Once you have lodged your application it is sent through to Council to assess. 

You can lodge your application yourself via the PlanSA Portal, or alternatively you can request for Council administration to lodge the application on your behalf. This can either be done in person by visiting the City of Unley Civic Centre, posting, or emailing us. It is important to note that all applications that are lodged as a hard copy incur an additional $87 lodgement fee. 


3. Development assessment

Information about how your application is assessed

A development application's journey through the approval process is determined by its assessment pathway. The new planning system's assessment pathways are designed to enable better assessment processes for development applications. The Planning, Development and Infrastructure (General) Regulations 2017 guide the assessment of all development applications lodged under the new system. 

There are three new assessment pathways which have been implemented in conjunction with the Planning and Design Code. 

Accepted development

Accepted development includes minor and standard applications which will need no approval or building consent only.

For example, a shed may require no planning or building consent and a shop fit out may require building consent only.

Exempt development also covers what types of development do not require any form of assessment.

Code assessed development

Code assessed development includes applications which will be assessed on their merit against the Planning and Design Code and are either deemed-to-satisfy development or performance assessed development.

Impact assessed development

Impact assessed development is likely to be large major developments.

These developments are subject to an Environmental Impact Statement which will include a full analysis of a wide range of environmental, social or economic effects associated with the development and how those effects are to be managed.

You can find additional information and fact sheets on the different assessment pathways online.

4. Development decision

Notification of decision

At the end of the assessment process, a decision is granted or refused by the relevant authority

Once a decision has been made, you'll receive a decision notification form (DNF) via the PlanSA Portal.

Planning Consent

Planning consent is granted by assessing the development against the planning rules to minimise any negative impacts on the surrounding area. A negative impact may be overlooking, overshadowing, increased noise or poor access.

Building Consent 

Building consent is granted by assessing the development against the building rules to ensure building work will be undertaken in a safe and compliant way. 

A building consent may be required even if no building works are proposed. This is because a change in land use may require different building fire safety requirements.

Both planning and building consents can be granted by a local council or an independent accredited professional. 

Checking your application status

You can check the progress of your application at any time using the below online tools.

Check the status of a DA (prior 19 March 2021)

Check the status of a DA (post 19 March 2021)

5. Mandatory notifications

Building Notifications

After development approval is granted, the issued Decision Notification Form (DNF) lists the mandatory building notifications and timeframes that are required to be submitted.

For all applications lodged after the 19 March 2021 - including transitional applications - the preferred manner of notification of building work is through the PlanSA Portal. 

Applicants and/or builders submitting the mandatory building notifications to council—during the construction of the building or building works—can do so by selecting the Submit Mandatory building notification option via the Your Applications dashboard on the PlanSA Portal.

For help submitting a building notification through the Portal please view the submit a building notification guide.

Please contact for any other queries regarding mandatory notifications.