Understanding the DA process

Source: NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment

Pre-lodgement advice

Before you prepare and lodge an application, we encourage you to discuss it with one of Council's duty planners to obtain general advice. This is a free service, available via phone between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Formal Pre-DA meeting

Detailed written advice can be obtained through a formal Pre-DA meeting. These meetings are reserved for significant proposals, including multi-dwelling developments, subdivisions of more than 10 lots, commercial developments, industrial developments, and all temporary events requiring development consent; or proposals with complex planning considerations.

A formal meeting is intended to give consideration to the feasibility of your proposal and provide information in relation to the assessment process. The principal objective is to identify and resolve constraints related to your project before submitting your application. The meeting is for discussion and clarification only and isn't intended to preempt a final decision in relation to a DA.

Although Pre-DA meetings are not mandatory, consultation early in the process may prevent delays in processing of your application. 

Meetings are held each Friday morning by appointment at our administration building, subject to availability.

To book a Pre-DA meeting
  1. In the first instance, discuss your proposal with Council’s Duty Planner in order to obtain clarification as to whether the proposal qualifies for the Pre-DA service.

  2. In the event Council's Duty Planner confirms that a Pre-DA meeting should be held, please complete a Pre-DA Meeting Request Form(PDF, 165KB) .

  3. Submit your completed form and supporting documentation via email to: planning@cessnock.nsw.gov.au

A letter of advice identifying any issues that need to be addressed will be issued within ten days of the Pre-DA meeting.


Step 1: Obtain all required documents

Supporting documentation is required when lodging an application. View the Submission Matrix to make sure you have everything you need. In addition to the documents specified in the Submission Matrix, you will need to:

If your application relates to ancillary development, see the below sample plans to help you when submitting your site plan. 

Step 2: Obtain an application fee quote 

There are fees associated with the lodgement of a development application.  You must include the application fee quote as part of your application. To obtain your quote, contact our customer service team.

Application fees are detailed in Council's Fees and Charges.(PDF, 2MB)

Step 3: Lodge your application electronically 

You must prepare and submit your development application on the NSW Planning Portal.

The NSW Government Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has created a guide to walk you through registration and lodgement on the Planning Portal.

If your application is incomplete, you'll receive details on what is required via the Planning Portal.

Once your application is complete and accepted for lodgement on the Planning Portal, Council's Customer Service Team will contact you for payment. Your application will not be considered as lodged until the application fees have been paid in full.

Access the NSW Planning Portal

For more information on using the Planning Portal, see our ePlanning Portal FAQ document.(PDF, 179KB)


If you are a developer or owner-builder, there are important Commonwealth telecommunications rules you need to comply with. For more information, visit www.infrastructure.gov.au/tind


In most instances, Council will be the consent authority for the DA. In certain circumstances, we may only undertake the assessment process and a regional panel or another government agency will act as the consent authority.

  1. Once submitted, your application will be allocated to an assessment officer.
  2. The assessment officer will contact you to introduce themselves and answer any questions you may have (within 14 days of lodgement).
  3. Your application may be placed on public exhibition.
  4. If so, the assessment officer will carefully consider all matters raised during the exhibition period.

You may be requested to provide additional information during the assessment process.

Applications are assessed in accordance with Section 4.15 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and on public exhibition in accordance with our Community Participation Plan (CPP).

Track a DA

You can track the status of any application we're assessing, whether you are the applicant or not.

Applications can be tracked on the Application Tracker using the map, or by entering the DA number, address, lot number or date lodged. 

Applications can also be tracked via the NSW Government Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Application Tracking Service by browsing the map or by selecting ‘Cessnock City Council’ from the drop-down menu.


Following the complete and proper consideration of your application, a determination will be made.

If permission is granted for your project, you'll obtain a development consent. Your development consent will outline any conditions that must be addressed prior, during and upon completion of construction or prior to use commencing. You may also have to obtain a number of other certificates or approvals.

If the assessment officer is not in a position to support your proposal, development consent will not be granted. If this occurs, the assessment officer will then contact or meet with you to discuss issues and explain Council's position.

Modifying a Development Consent (Section 4.55 Applications)

You may apply to modify your development consent (known as a Section 4.55 Application), provided that the modified development remains substantially the same as the one that was initially approved.  There are three types of modifications:

  • 4.55(1) Minor Modifications - to correct a minor error, misdescription or miscalculation

    Example: incorrect plan numbers were referenced on the development consent.

  • 4.55(1a) Minor Modifications - involving minimal environmental impact

    Example:  Changes to an approved landscape plan, or minor changes to the internal configuration of a building.

  • 4.55(2) Other Modifications - where environmental impact is possible

    Example: Changes to approved hours of operation, changes to the external configuration of a building such as window placement or height.

If you're not able to satisfy Council that the modified proposal is substantially the same as the one that was initially approved, you will need to lodge a new development application.