The Development Application Process

Stage 1 - Preparation and Lodgement

From July 1, 2021, all Development Applications (DAs), Construction Certificates (CCs) and Complying Development Certificate (CDCs) need to be submitted via the NSW Government's online portal. All you need to do is apply for a NSW Planning Portal account, then submit your application online. Simply click here to start the process and follow the links. Quick Reference Guides are available to help too.

Stage 2 - Public Notification

Once your Development Application has been received, Cowra Council will notify your neighbours of your proposal. Neighbours will be provided with a copy of the plans lodged with your Development Application (except for the floor plan) and invited to make a written submission to Council on any matter related to your proposal.

Neighbours will be provided with anywhere between 14 to 21 days to make a written submission. Certain developments will also need to be advertised in the local newspaper, the Cowra Guardian.

Further details relating to the public notification and advertising process, including how Council will treat any issues raised in a written submission, can be found in Council's Development Control Plan – Advertising and Notification. 

Stage 3 - Assessment

A summary of the main steps that are involved in the assessment of Development Applications is included below: 

Step 1
Your application is assigned to a Council assessment officer.

Step 2
An initial review of your application is undertaken to determine if there is adequate information for an assessment to be carried out. 

Step 3
If additional information is required, you will be notified in writing.

Step 4
Once all necessary information is provided, the public notification process will commence as outlined in Stage 2.

Step 5
Once the public notification period has expired, the assessment of your application will be finalised.  

Stage 4 - Determination

Council must either approve (generally with conditions) or refuse your application.

Under most circumstances, the officer that has been assigned to assess your application will have the ability to determine your application. This is usually the case for less complex, small scale or non-controversial proposals.

If your proposal does not comply with a standard or control contained in one of Council’s policies, or there has been an objection received as a result of public notification / advertising, then your application will be referred to Council’s monthly committee meetings for determination. The Council will then defer, approve or refuse your application based on a simple majority vote.

You will be sent a formal Notice of Determination advising whether your application has been approved or refused. If your application is approved, it will usually be subject to a number of conditions which must be complied with at all stages of development. You will also receive a stamped set of approved plans. If your application is refused, your determination document will outline the reasons why Council has refused your application.  

Stage 5 - Post Determination

Have your read your conditions?

Once you have received your approval document, you must read the conditions. It is important that you comply with all conditions before, during and after completion of your development.

Have you paid your contributions?

Depending on the nature of your proposal, your approval document may contain a condition requiring the payment of a monetary contribution to Council. These contributions are known as Section 94 or Section 94A developer contributions or Section 64 water and sewer charges. These contributions must be paid to Council prior to any construction works commencing.

Have your lodged a Construction Certificate?

If your proposal involves construction works, you are not able to commence any form of construction until you have received a Construction Certificate. A Construction Certificate can be approved and issued by Cowra Council or a Private Accredited Certifier.

So what is a Construction Certificate? A Construction Certificate is an approval that certifies that your proposed development, if completed in accordance with your plans and specifications, will comply with the Building Code of Australia (BCA) including relevant associated structural standards and codes. You will find further information regarding Construction Certificates here. 

Do you want to modify your approval?

If you would like to amend the approved design, or change or delete a condition of approval, then you will need to lodge an additional application with Council. This application is known as a Section 96 Modification Application(DOC, 141KB) and attracts an additional fee with Council.

To qualify as a modification, the changes you are proposing must not result in substantial changes to the approved design. You are encouraged to contact Council staff to discuss your proposed modifications prior to the lodging of an application.

Please remember that if you are seeking a modification to your approval, and you have already gained a Construction Certificate, you will also have to gain an amended Construction Certificate.

For more information on the process for modifying your approval, please contact Council on (02) 6340 2040

Frequently Asked Questions:

How long does it take for a DA to be determined?

Cowra Council takes an average of 4 weeks to process a Development Application, however this will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Whether Council requires additional information in order to complete an assessment.
  • Whether Council receives an objection from a neighbour in relation to the proposal.
  • The complexity of the development proposal.
  • Whether the application proposes a variance to a Council policy or control.
  • The requirement for the application to be reported to Council’s monthly committee meetings.

The Council officer assigned to assess your Development Application will be able to provide you with an indication on the likely timeframe for determining your application. 

How does Council assess a Development Application?

Who will assess my application?

 Council’s Environmental Services Department is responsible for the assessment and determination of Development Applications and Construction Certificates involving land in the Cowra Shire. You will be notified in writing of the assessment officer that has been assigned to your application once it has been lodged with Council.

The assessment of your application will often involve input from a number of officers within Council. Town Planners, Building Surveyors, Engineers and Heritage Advisors may all provide comments and recommendations which are taken into consideration by the assessing officer prior to your application being determined.

Certain applications may also need to be referred to other government agency departments for expert advice and comment as part of the assessment. This is sometimes a legislative requirement. For example, the NSW Rural Fire Service may need to be consulted for developments on bushfire prone land, or the NSW Roads and Maritime Services may need to be consulted for developments that front onto highways.

What matters are taken into account as part of Council’s assessment?

The NSW Planning system sets out the criteria for assessing your application. These criteria fall under a series of headings generally known as ‘matters for consideration’. If you are interested in reading the ‘matters for consideration’, these are contained in Section 4.15 of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979.

What costs are involved in lodging a Development Application?

All development applications lodged with Council must be accompanied by a fee. This fee is calculated based on the estimated cost of your development. Many applications also require the payment of an advertising/neighbour notification fee. The required fees and charges are set out in Cowra Council’s Revenue Policy 2021-2022(PDF, 2MB). If you would like Council to prepare you a quote on the fees that will apply to your application, please call (02) 6340 2040 during the hours of 8.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday.

Is there anybody that can help me with my application?

Preparing a development application can be a daunting task, particularly if you have not done this before. The first step recommended is to read Council’s Development Application Guide(PDF, 222KB). The Guide covers the following key steps:

Step 1 – Understanding Council controls and policies

Step 2 – Preparing plans and drawings

Step 3 – preparing a Statement of Environmental Effects

Step 4 – Completing the development application form

Step 5 – Lodging the application correctly

Please contact Council on (02) 6340 2040 if you require further guidance and assistance. An officer will be available to talk you through the requirements. Alternatively, you can request assistance by emailing