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What is Council's Role?

Council has a statutory role to play in monitoring and seeking compliance for any unauthorised or non-complying land use or building activity. Sometimes there may be a combination of these activities which require a compliance response.

From a land use perspective, Council's Development Assessment Unit has a designated compliance officer who will respond to complaints specifically relating to land uses (such as new businesses) which have commenced without approval, the unauthorised clearance of significant or protected vegetation, or uses which have validly commenced, but are not complying with conditions of approval (such as exceeding approved hours of operation).

From a building perspective, Council's Building and Environmental Health Unit compliance officers focus on the unauthorised or non-complying erection of building structures, or contravention of fire safety, accessibility, food safety and hygiene and environmental impacts regulations.

It should be also noted that for certain construction activity, the NSW planning system allows for sites to be managed by accredited private firms, in the role as a Principal Certifying Authority (PCA). In these situations, any complaints on the site management of construction activities should be directed in the first place to the PCA, and not Council. Adjoining neighbours are generally notified of the contact details of the PCA, prior to the commencement of works. If you feel that the PCA is not adequately responding your complaints, it is then appropriate to contact Council for compliance action.

What Enforcement Action Can Council Take?

Council has an adopted policy “Enforcement – Unlawful Activity” which guides the Council officers’ approach and response to a range of compliance issues.

The Policy requires maintaining standards of procedural fairness, and encourages where possible a negotiation between affected parties as a means of avoiding the costly option of legal action. The Courts always acknowledge the efforts of disputing parties to attempt to resolve an agreed outcome, and do not look favourably upon councils who proceed straight to legal proceedings without firstly facilitating negotiations.

Part of these negotiations will often require the lodgement of appropriate applications, such as DAs or Building Information Certificates to validate any uses or building works commenced without prior approval. Council also has a range of statutory orders that it may impose on offending parties in order to formalise any requirements to rectify non-compliance.

However, where negotiated outcomes cannot be achieved, or where there is significant unauthorised activity, Council may choose to impose one or more forms of fines, generally referred to as Penalty Infringement Notices (PINs) on either the offending proprietor, contractor or land owner.

For more serious and repeat offending actions, the officers may seek Council endorsement to engage a legal firm to commence legal action against the offenders, which may result in a Court order requiring the use to be ceased or demolition of part or all of a built structures, and an accompanying heavier fine.

How to make a complaint to Council

To report any concerns regarding illegal activity or clearing of land please contact Contact Us or you can Report a Problem online or using Council's Smartphone App and Mobile Website for non-urgent requests online at anytime. To make urgent reports outside of our Customer Service Hours please phone 1800 818 326.
The compliance team within the Department of Planning and Environment works with communities, local councils across NSW, as well as with other state and federal government agencies, to ensure state significant projects across the state meet their conditions of consent.

New Department of Planning Compliance Tool

The Department of Planning is committed to carrying out its compliance activities in a transparent way. As part of this, they have developed a new, quick and user-friendly tool which will allow customers to access compliance monitoring information via their computer, laptop or phone. This map will provide current and historic information on their compliance monitoring activities including the number and location of inspections and any enforcement actions across NSW.

The map can be found here. (external link)

If you have any questions please contact the department on 1300 305 695 or via email at

Workcover Authority of NSW

Workcover Authority of NSW administer work health and safety, injury management, return to work and workers compensation laws and manage the workers compensation system. They oversee:
  • work health and safety
  • licensing and registration of high risk activities (including the removal of asbestos)
  • workers compensation insurance
  • workers compensation benefits
  • sustainable return to employment for injured workers
  • management of the Workers Compensation Insurance Fund.
Contact Workcover NSW website or phone 13 10 50 for information, advice or assistance.

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