Development information

Developing your land or building is an exciting time but it can also be confusing. We have collated and answered common questions to help break down the process.

What is development?

Development can include any construction, alteration, addition to or demolition of a building or structure, a change in the current use of land, change in building class, or anything that modifies a designated heritage item.

Acts and activities that constitute development are defined in the Planning, Development and Infrastructure (PDI) Act 2016 and Planning, Development and Infrastructure (General) Regulations 2017.

Common types of development in the City of Adelaide include:

  • Demolish, construct, add or alter a building
  • Partial or whole demolition of buildings or structures (in certain circumstances)
  • External alterations, repairs and/or conservation works (and in some cases also internal alterations)
    to a heritage place
  • Installation of new advertisements/signs
  • Change the use and/or building class of a property
  • Any tree damaging activity to a regulated or significant tree
  • Divide or alter the boundary of an allotment
  • Events on private property where the event is unrelated to the lawful use.

In certain circumstances (mainly relating to the size and location of a building), the PDI Act and Regulations exclude some of these activities from the definition of 'development.'

If an act or activity is exempt, then development approval is not required.

Frequently asked questions

If an act or activity constitutes development, you will be required to obtain development approval to undertake the works. 

When a decision is made, you will receive a legal document known as a Decision Notification Form (DNF) is required to undertake the works. A Development Approval may include the following consents:

  • Planning Consent
  • Land Division Consent
  • Building Consent

The consents required may also vary depending on the nature of the works, for example:

*Internal fit-out or building works may require planning consent for works affecting a heritage place
Development approvals specify the design and other documents the development must adhere to. The decision notification form will specify the timeframe that the development should occur within, any conditions of approval and advisory notes for your information.

To check whether an approval is required, visit PlanSA Wizard or contact Development Assessment.

Processing of a development application will typically have some involvement by your local council.

Planning Consent

A Planning Consent will likely have Council's Assessment Manager or Assessment Panel as the relevant authority. In some cases, it could be undertaken by an independent assessor (for deemed-to-satisfy applications only) or by the State Government's development assessment body, known as the State Planning Commission.

The State Planning Commission is responsible for:

  • Impact Assessed (Restricted) development
  • Development within the City of Adelaide, where the cost of development exceeds $10m
  • Crown development

Building Consent

A Building Consent can be undertaken by a Council or by an independent assessor.

Once all relevant consents have been finalised, your local council is responsible for processing all the relevant consents and issuing a development approval.

A planning assessment requires assessment against provisions contained in the Planning and Design Code. The Planning and Design Code and South Australian Property and Planning Atlas (SAPPA) spatially divides the Council (and state) into zones, subzones and overlays, with different requirements based upon what you wish to do and what area of the city or North Adelaide you are located in.

A planning assessment involves assessing the impact of development, including but not limited to:

  • size, shape, design orientation and layout of new buildings, advertisements and allotments
  • the potential impact of development upon adjoining buildings, properties and people (e.g. overshadowing, overlooking, and visual dominance)
  • 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
  • operational matters such as vehicle access and parking, waste management and amenity impacts such
    as noise
  • appropriateness of certain land uses dependent on the relevant zoning.

Applications for planning consent may also involve referrals to external agencies and/or public notification.

 A building assessment involves the appraisal of the design of buildings to ensure the proposed works are in accordance with the Building Code of Australia, National Construction Code and relevant Australian Standards.

Key focus areas include:

  • Structural adequacy
  • Fire safety
  • Health and amenity
  • Energy efficiency
  • Access for people with disabilities

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

You may also be required to pay the Construction Industry Training Levy. The levy is payable on all building or construction work (including maintenance) with a value over $40,000 and is put towards industry training.

Payment can be made via CITB online payment system.

The Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act stipulates the legislative timeframes in which a development application must be determined.

Timeframes will vary based on the nature of the development as outlined in the pictorial below. To find out more about assessment timeframes, contact Development Assessment.

More information on assessment timeframes can be found on PlanSA.

Application fees will vary depending on the nature of the development and any additional processes required. Fees are defined in the Planning Development and Infrastructure (Fees, Charges and Contributions) Regulations 2019.

See fees and charges at a glance (to 30 June 2024), for a simplified breakdown for development assessment fees.

To find out more about what fees may apply to your application, contact Development Assessment.

Preliminary Advice Service

Early discussions with the Council will help you make informed decisions about your development application.

If you require any guidance on the process, please contact Development Assessment for general advice. A planning officer will be able to provide general advice and information between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm Monday to Friday.

Meet in person at the City of Adelaide Customer Centre at 25 Pirie Street, Adelaide, or call (08) 8203 7185
or email [email protected]

Please be advised that any preliminary advice provided by the City of Adelaide is based on the information provided and shall not be relied upon or be otherwise interpreted as ‘pre-approval’ or a guarantee that the Relevant Authority will approve a development application.

Development applications must be lodged online via PlanSA and will be assessed against the version of the Planning and Design Code applicable at the time of lodgment.

For more information, visit PlanSA.