Development and Planning


The Development Approval Process

What is Development Approval?

Development approval is required for:

  • New buildings and structures
  • Alterations to existing buildings and structures
  • Changes to how a building or structure is used
  • Demolition of existing buildings and structures
  • Land division or boundary realignment
  • Modifications or painting to a State Heritage Place

A Development Approval is a legal document that allows you to undertake a development.  Development Approvals specify the conditions and other details that the development must comply with.

Development approval can be made up of one or more types of Consents including:

  • Development Plan Consent
  • Land Division Consent
  • Building Rules Consent

What is Development Plan Consent?

Development Plan Consent is assessed by a planner who considers the Development Application against the provisions of the relevant Development Plan and processes the Development Application in accordance with any procedural requirements set out in the Development Act 1993 and the Development Regulations 2008.

It is recommended that applicants refer to the Development Plan before making an application. 

What is Building Rules Consent?

Building Rules Consent is required to determine whether or not the proposal satisfies technical building requirements and will be structurally sound if built in accordance with the approved plans.  Assessment is made against the Building Code of Australia and other relevant Australian Standards.  Generally, this covers issues such as structural adequacy, fire safety, health, amenity, equitable access for people with disabilities and energy efficiency.

Building Rules Consent may be undertaken by Council or by a Private Certifier.  However it is important to note that consent from a Private Certifier does not automatically guarantee Development Approval.  If changes have been made between Development Plan Consent and Building Rules Consent a fresh development application must be lodged.

What is Land Division Consent?

Development Approval is required to divide land into separate blocks or allotments or move boundaries.  See Development Information Guide - Land Division for more information.

How do I submit an application?

You will need to submit to Council the following:

  • a completed Development Application Form
  • the relevant documents/plans
  • pay the development application fee
  • a current (issued within 1 year) Certificate of Title for the land

If the need for further documents becomes evident during assessment, you will receive a letter requesting the provision of further information.  Assessment of an application cannot proceed until the complete set of required documents is provided.  If you do not provide the requested information your application will normally be refused.

What are the different types of assessment processes?

For Planning Consent, each development application will fit into one of three classes which affect the way that the application is processed:

  • Complying - if the proposed development meets the criteria listed as complying in the Development Plan or specified in the Development Regulations 1008, Development Approval must be granted
  • Merit - if the proposed development is not specified as either complying or non-complying, it is individually assessed on merit having regard to the relevant Development Plan policies.
  • Non-complying - if the proposed development is listed in the Development Plan as being a non-complying form of development, only in circumstances where the proposal does not compromise the intent of the Zone, the Development Act provides an opportunity for the assessment of an application.  See Development Information Guide Non-complying Development

How long does it take to get Development Approval?

There are set time limits in which councils are obliged to make decisions.  The Rural City of Murray Bridge endeavours to process all applications in the quickest time possible.  If the application must be referred on to other bodies, or additional information is require from the applicant, the decision will be delayed.  Thorough preparation before lodging your application will ensure efficient processing.  Complying development takes 1-2 weeks.  Merit applications typically take between 6-8 weeks depending on the complexity of the application.  Non-complying development requires the concurrence of the Development Assessment Commission and will therefore take longer to process.

Does my application need to be referred to an agency?

Some applications are required to be referred to and assessed by external statutory bodies (i.e. if you are near the river or adjacent to an arterial road, State Heritage etc.).

As a result of referrals, public notification or detailed requirements sought during assessment, the Council may seek further information from the applicant.  The Council can specify the time offered to provide this information.  this information is sought to enable the Council to better understand your application and increases its chances of being approved.  If you chose not to provide the information, or do not do so within the relevant timeframe, the Council may refuse the application.

What happens if I don’t like to decision of the relevant authority, or if I am unsatisfied with the way my application or query has been handled?


Depending on the type of application that has been lodged with the relevant authority, a right of appeal does exist against a decision that has been made. Appeal rights can generally be summarized as follows:

  • An Applicant (a person who has lodged a development application or is seeking approval) has a right of appeal against a processing decision of the relevant authority and a decision of a relevant authority (including the imposition of conditions) unless the application was for a non-complying form of development;  
  • A Representor (a person who has lodged a valid representation as part of a Category 2 or 3 public notification process) has a right of appeal against the decision of the relevant authority where a development application was subject to Category 3 public notification; and 
  • An Interested Person (a third party who has a demonstrated interest in the proposal) has an appeal right against a decision of a relevant authority with respect to the nature of development, the classification of a development application or the level at which a development application is publicly notified.

Other appeal rights may exist and some appeal rights are affected by the processing requirements that are applicable to a development application. Further information on appeal rights can be obtained by:

  • Reviewing Section 86 of the Development Act 1993;
  • Reviewing the information contained on the rear of the Decision Notification Form once a decision on a development application has been made by Council (note: other relevant authorities may have different information contained on their Decision Notification Forms);
  • Contacting the Environment, Resources and Development Court on (08) 8204 0289 or http://www.courts.sa.gov.au/RepresentYourself/DevelopmentAppeals/Pages/Lodging-an-Appeal.aspx; or
  • Contacting Council planning staff, a planning lawyer or a planning consultant.


If you feel aggrieved with the way your application, representation or query has been handled by a member of Council’s Development & Regulation Business Unit there are two options to enable you to lodge a complaint.

Initially you can lodge a complaint with the Council in accordance with the Council’s Complaints Management Framework, available here. A majority of all complaints are addressed and resolved through this process.

In addition to lodging a complaint with the Council, should you remain unsatisfied with the response, Section 103 of the Development Regulations 2008 provides persons with a right to make a complaint to the Minister for Planning relating to development plan or building work assessment. The relevant sections of Regulation 103, together with the process that is followed, are noted below:

103—Complaints relating to development plan or building work assessment
(2) A person may make a complaint to the Minister about a private certifier or council if the person believes—
(aa) that the private certifier or council has failed to comply with, or acting in contravention of, the Act, these regulations or a Development Plan with respect to any matter associated with any assessment, decision, permission, consent, approval, authorisation, certificate or process that relates to the assessment of any proposed residential code development; or
(a) that the private certifier or council has failed to comply with, or acted in contravention of, the Act, these regulations or the Building Code with respect to any matter associated with any assessment, decision, permission, consent, approval, authorisation, certificate or process that relates to building work (or proposed building work), or the classification or occupation of a building; or
(b) in the case of a private certifier—that the private certifier has failed to comply with, or acted in contravention of, a code of practice.
(3) A complaint must—
(a) be in writing; and 
(b) contain particulars of the allegations on which the complaint is based; and 
(c) be verified by statutory declaration. 
(4) Except with the express permission of the Minister, a complaint must not be lodged with the Minister more than 6 months after the day on which the complainant first had notice of the matters alleged in the complaint.
(5) The Minister may require the complainant to give further particulars of the complaint (verified, if the Minister so requires, by statutory declaration). 
(6) The Minister may refuse to entertain a complaint or, having accepted a complaint for investigation, may refuse to continue to entertain a complaint, if it appears to the Minister— 
(a) that the complainant does not have a sufficient interest in the matter to which the complaint relates; or 
(b) that the matter raised in the complaint is trivial; or 
(c) that the complaint is frivolous or vexatious or is not made in good faith; or 
(d) that it would be more appropriate for proceedings to be initiated in a court or tribunal constituted by law; or 
(e) that there is some other good reason not to proceed (or to proceed further) with the matter under this regulation. 
(7) If a complaint is against a council— 
(a) the Minister must initially refer the matter to the council for consideration (or further consideration) and report; and 
(b) the Minister may, on the basis of a report under paragraph (a) (and in addition to the powers of the Minister under subregulation (6)), decide not to proceed with the matter under this regulation. 
(8) The Minister must inform the complainant of a decision under subregulation (6) or (7)(b) and the reasons for it. 
(9) Subject to the operation of subregulation (6) and (7), the Minister must, after receiving a complaint— 
(a) refer the matter to an authorised officer for investigation and report; and 
(b) by written notice—inform the private certifier or council of the reference of the matter to an authorised officer (including, in the case of a private certifier, information about the nature of the complaint). 
(10) The authorised officer must conduct an investigation into the complaint as soon as practicable after the matter is referred under subregulation (9). 
(11) The authorised officer must give the private certifier or council a reasonable opportunity to make representations to the authorised officer about the complaint. 
(12) The authorised officer may (in addition to the powers of an authorised officer under section 19 of the Act) require— 
(a) the private certifier or council; or 
(b) the complainant, to provide to the authorised officer any document or other information relevant to the investigation of the complaint (verified, if the authorised officer so requires, by statutory declaration).
(13) If during an investigation the authorised officer is satisfied that there is matter about which another complaint could have been made against the private certifier or council, the authorised officer may, after consultation with the Minister, deal with the matter as part of the investigation as if a complaint had been made about the matter. 
(14) The authorised officer— 
(a) may report to the Minister at any stage of an investigation; and 
(b) must present a written report to the Minister at the conclusion of an investigation. 
(15) The Minister must supply the complainant and the private certifier or council with a copy of a report presented under subregulation (14)(b). 
(16) The Minister may, on the receipt of a report under subregulation (14)(b)— 
(a) decide to take no further action on the complaint; or 
(b) discuss the matter with the parties in order to attempt to resolve the issues between them; or 
(c) if the complaint has been made against a private certifier— 
(i) caution or reprimand the private certifier; 
(ii) make recommendations to the private certifier; 
(iii) impose conditions on the registration of the private certifier under regulation 93A; 
(iv) determine that the registration of the private certifier under regulation 93A should be suspended or cancelled; 
(v) disqualify the private certifier from registration under regulation 93A for a specified period or until the fulfilment of specified conditions; or 
(d) if the complaint has been made against a council—refer the matter to the council for further consideration, with or without recommendations; or 
(e) refer the matter to another person or authority, with a recommendation for further inquiry or action. 
(17) A determination under subregulation (16)(c)(iii), (iv) or (v) will have effect according to its terms and without the need for further inquiry by the registration authority under regulation 93A. 
(18) However, before taking action under subregulation (16)(c), (d) or (e), the Minister must give the private certifier or council (as the case may be) a notice in writing— 
(a) stating the proposed course of action; and 
(b) stating the reasons for the proposed course of action; and 
(c) inviting the private certifier or council to show, within a specified time (of at least 10 business days), why the proposed action should not be taken. 
(19) The Minister must inform the complainant of the outcome of the complaint under subregulation (16).
(20) The Minister, an authorised officer or any other person or body conducting an investigation or other proceeding under this regulation is under no duty to rectify a problem involving a building or building work identified or reported as a result of the performance of a function under this regulation. 

Can I build first then obtain my approval?

No. Under the Development Act 1993, a fine of up to $120,000 applies for undertaking work without Development Approval.  In some cases you may be required to remove the structure if it has been built without Development Approval at your own cost.

Do my neighbours need to be notified of my development application:?

Depending on the type of application Council may be obliged to give people likely to be affected by development an opportunity to make comment (also known as a representation).

The Development Regulations 2008 and/or the Development Plan set out the types of development where people have this right available to them.  The extent of the notification is determined by the Development Act 1993.

See Development Information Guide - Public Notification for more information.


A duty planner is available to assist you with any queries during business hours.

Planning Officer

08 8539 1100


Back to top