Read the below frequently asked questions and additional information related to lodging a development application with Council 

Secondary dwellings

What is a secondary dwelling? 

A secondary dwelling (commonly known as a ‘granny flat’) is generally limited in size, but must be self contained – having a living area, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and laundry facilities for the exclusive use of the occupants of the secondary dwelling. The Cessnock Local Environmental Plan 2011 (LEP) defines a secondary dwelling as a self-contained dwelling that:

(a) Is established in conjunction with another dwelling (the principal dwelling), and 
(b) Is on the same lot of land as the principal dwelling, and 
(c) Is located within, or is attached to, or is separate from, the principal dwelling.

If you are seeking to build a secondary dwelling, you must also consider the controls detailed in Clause 5.4 of the Cessnock LEP 2011 which states:

If development for the purposes of a secondary dwelling is permitted under this Plan, the total floor area of the dwelling (excluding any area used for parking) must not exceed whichever of the following is the greater:

(a) 60 square metres, or 
(b) 50% of the total floor area of the principal dwelling.

Where are secondary dwelling developments permitted in the Cessnock Local Government Area?

Secondary dwellings are permissible in a number of zones under the Cessnock LEP 2011, namely:

  • R1 General Residential 
  • R2 Low Density Residential
  • R3 Medium Density Residential
  • R5 Large Lot Residential
  • RU5 Village

What information is required if I wish to lodge a development application for a secondary dwelling?

If you are interested in undertaking a secondary dwelling development, Council recommends that you contact a reputable planning and design consultant to assess the potential of the land and its capability for development. In some instances, a secondary dwelling may be capable of approval as Complying Development under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009. You can seek a Complying Development Certificate from Council or a private certifier.

Applications made to Council are required to be lodged via the NSW Planning Portal. You are encouraged to review Council’s Development Application Submission Matrix to ensure the correct documentation and information is submitted with your application.

What happens after I receive development approval?

If you receive approval via a development application, you will need to obtain building approval via a construction certificate from either Council or a private certifier. The building approval process includes periodic inspections by a registered certifier to confirm the building once complete will be capable of receiving an occupation certificate or approval to start living in the secondary dwelling.

Updated April 2021. This fact sheet in no way fetters the discretion of Council in the provision of any site-specific advice and/or the assessment and determination of any future Development Application for the site. In particular, other issues not identified in this fact sheet may emerge during a detailed assessment of matters relevant to the site, and in the case of a Development Application, public consultation, submission and consideration of specialist studies/reports, detailed assessment of planning-related matters, and consideration of a complete application.

If you require further information, please email Council on council@cessnock.nsw.gov.au or phone 4993 4100.