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Accessing Council Information

Council publishes a range of information under the NSW Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009.

To help you apply for access to information Council has adopted the following documents.

  • Public Information Access Policy - outlines Council’s commitment to openness and transparency regarding accessing Council information.
  • Agency Information Guide - describes Council’s structure, functions, how it operates, what government information is held and how you can access this information.

Your right to information

Council is committed to ensuring all requests to access Council information are processed in a timely and efficient manner and in accordance with:

How do I get access to information?

Firstly, search Council’s website, to see if the information is already available. If it isn’t already on Council’s website you can contact a customer service officer for assistance or refer to Council's Agency Information Guide.

Informal Access:

Access to information which is not available as 'Open Access' or proactively on Council's website may be provided through Informal Release. Council can generally release other information in response to an informal request subject to any reasonable conditions as Council thinks fit to impose.

Council is authorised to release information unless there is a public interest against disclosure. To enable the release of as much information as possible, Council is also authorised to redact content from a copy of information to be released, if the inclusion of the redacted information would otherwise result in an overriding public interest against disclosure.

Application can be made to Council by submitting an Informal Access Request form, Under informal release, Council has the right to decide by what means information is to be released. Some information can be provided via ‘informal release’ provided that no third party business, commercial, personal or copyright information is included.

Formal Access:

A Formal Access Application is required in the following circumstances:

  • if information is not available via proactive or informal release
  • the request involves a large volume of information,
  • the request requires extensive research and accordingly will involve an unreasonable amount of time and resources to produce
  • the request contains personal or confidential information about a third party which may require consultation
  • the request is of a sensitive nature that requires careful weighing of the consideration in favour of and against disclosure, then; 

A Formal Access Application must:

  • Be in writing
  • Specify it is made under the GIPA Act
  • State an Australian Postal address;
  • Be accompanied by the $30.00 fee;
  • Provide sufficient detail to enable Council to identify the information requested.

Complete a Formal Access Application Form (application fee of $30.00 applies).

Fees & Charges:

Information can generally be made available free of charge although you may have to pay reasonable photocopying charges if you want your own copy. If you have a simple request that can be satisfied by reference to a single file or entry in a register Council can usually respond on the spot, and at no charge. However, in the case of a more complex request or if the file has to be accessed from off-site storage, you may be requested to complete an Informal Access Request Form to allow Council to process your request unless the information requested falls within the requirements of a Formal Access Application (see below).

Open Access Information

Council is required to provide many of its documents as open access information including:

Codes, plans, policies and reports

Registers and returns

Agendas, business papers and minutes

Planning and development documents

  • Development applications under the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and associated documents.
  • Records of approvals granted, any variation from local policies with reasons for the variation and decisions made on appeals concerning approvals.
  • Local policies adopted by Council concerning approvals and orders.
  • Records of building certificates under the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
  • Plans of land proposed to be compulsorily acquired by Council.
  • Leases and licences for the use of public land classified as community land.
  • Environmental planning instruments, development control plans and plans made under sections 94A and 94B of the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 that apply to land within Council’s area.

Copyright Notice: A large amount of information which is available for public access belongs to third parties and is the subject of copyright, such as plans and reports submitted with development applications. Access to this information is provided to members of the public in accordance with the Copyright Act 1986 (Cth) therefore applicants are required to seek the consent of the copyright owner before Council can reproduce the information in any way. 

Dividing Fences Act 1991 (NSW)

Council may provide you with the name and postal address of your adjoining neighbours upon application for the purpose of sharing of expenses to construct or repair a dividing fence in accordance with the NSW Dividing Fences Act 1991.

To apply for adjoining owners contact details you will need to complete the Informal GIPA Dividing Fences Request Form.

Please note you will be required to provide photo identification with your application.

Access to personal information

When accessing Council documents, Council must comply with the NSW Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 which protects personal information and the privacy of individuals.

Councils are required to develop a Privacy Management Plan in accordance with the Privacy and Personal Information Act and comply with other legislation regarding public access to information. 

Further information

Contact Councils Customer Service Centre on:

Phone: 49934100 or,

Email: council@cessnock.nsw.gov.au

You can find out more about your right to information and new ways to access NSW government information by visiting:  www.ipc.nsw.gov.au.