Support for small business and start ups

Council is proud to be ‘small business friendly’ and is committed to working with small businesses.

Small business owners need to be across a range of federal, state and local government regulatory requirements.

Council’s role includes land use, transport, building and environmental health regulations.

See business resources

Small business guides

Council has 4 guides to help small business owners understand regulations:

Here to help

Council Duty Planners are available to help you with small business approvals.

Book an appointment  or contact us if you have any questions. 

Frequently asked questions

Step 1 - What type of planning or building approval do you require?

Before you start, make sure your property is correctly zoned.

Land use zones determine the development and activities allowed for each property.

There are 3 Local Environmental Plans in the Tweed that specify zoning:

Please see the LEP extents map to find out which LEP applies to your site.

Land Zoning Maps for LEP 2014 and TCCLEP 2012 can be found by clicking on the Maps link at the top the relevant LEP document.

Most types of small businesses are permitted in established commercial and industrial zones, but there are some uses which may not be permitted.

Zoning and site constraint details can be further verified by contacting Council staff or by obtaining a Section 10.7(2) Certificate.

For information about Section 10.7 certificates see Buying and Selling Property.

What planning and building approvals do you need from Council?

Under current state and local planning laws, there are 3 pathways for proposed use:

  1. For straightforward changes of use, you may be Exempt from needing planning approval to start up your business.
  2. If not Exempt, you may only need to gain approval through the less onerous Complying Development application process (from either Council or a Private Certifier)
  3. If not Exempt or Complying Development, a Development Application will need to be submitted to Council.

Exempt and Complying Development

The State Government’s Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (Codes SEPP) provides for standardised development controls for nominated Exempt and Complying Development for a range of land uses.

Part 2 of the Codes SEPP specifies development in accordance with the applicable development standards that is Exempt from requiring a complying development certificate or development approval.

Part 5 and 5A of the Codes SEPP specifies commercial and industrial development which may be undertaken as Complying Development and the applicable development standards. Complying Development is considered to have relatively low environmental impact, but is still the subject of the Complying Development application process, which can be applied for through either Council or a private accredited certifier.

To find out more about applying for a Complying Development Certificate through Council, see Exempt and Complying Development.

To find out if your proposal meets the requirements for Complying Development under the Codes SEPP, Council provides pre-lodgement advice as a fee-for-service (see fees and payments). Council Officers will carry out a preliminary assessment of your proposal and provide written advice about whether your proposal meets provisions for Complying Development.

A deduction may apply to the fees for any Complying Development or Construction Certificate lodged following pre-lodgement advice. See Complying Development Stage 1 for information about the pre-lodgement process.

Note: Council’s fees are updated at the end of each financial year.

Development Applications

If your proposal is neither Exempt or Complying Development, you will need Development Consent from Council.

This consent is sought by lodging a Development Application (DA) to Council. The DA mainly focuses on how well your proposed business fits with the character, function and built form of the location.

If you're proposing any physical changes to a building, you may also need a Construction Certificate before starting any building works. A Construction Certificate can be sought from Council or an accredited private certifier.

If using Council's service, your Construction Certificate can be lodged concurrently with a DA. See Construction Certificates

Note: in addition to the DA or CDC you may also need a series of concurrent approvals from Council for works establishing appropriate water, sewer, trade waste and possibly driveway access for your new development.

If your proposal relates to a food business, hairdressers or other business that may impact public health, other approvals or licencing may also be required.

What are the main rules for development?

All developments, big or small, must comply with state government and Council planning control documents.

The rules for development are set out principally in the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (in particular Section 4.15), and other relevant state or regional plans, and the applicable LEP.

The more detailed design rules are contained with the Tweed Development Control Plan (DCP) 2008. This DCP applies to both Council wide controls as well additional locality based controls for more sensitive areas in the Tweed, such as Pottsville and Hastings Point.

View Council’s planning policies, see land use & planning controls 

Step 2 - How to prepare and lodge an application to Council?

The key elements in preparing a good DA include the thorough and correct completion of an application via the NSW Planning Portal (available from 1 January 2021), the written consent of the owner of the premises, the completion of a Statement of Environmental Effects, clear and accurate plans of the space you intend to occupy and related building alterations.

Duty Planners within Council's Development Assessment Unit and Council Officers within the Building and Environmental Health Unit can provide an extensive range of free, and fee-based pre-lodgement services to assist with your understanding of the DA process, development rules, other approvals and regulatory requirements that may be applicable to your business.

To speak with a Duty Planner, you can make an appointment with a development assessment duty officer, make an appointment with a building and environmental health duty officer or call the Contact Centre on 1300 292 872 / 1300 292 TSC.

Whilst a Change of Use DA is generally a more straightforward assessment than larger scale development, the efficiency in processing your application will be greatly aided by ensuring that you have the following details for any pre-lodgement meetings with Council staff:

  • A copy of any existing building plan, which may be made available from the owner, or the real estate agent that you are dealing with for any lease arrangement; and
  • Having a clear idea on what your new business will entail including: the type of use; any building alterations; likely hours of operation; the number of staff; any food preparation and kitchen requirements; any on site car parking arrangements; the loading and servicing requirements; and any advertising and signage.

It is important to ensure that any Change of Use DA for a small business addresses:

  • Any noise and odour impacts;
  • Trading hours;
  • Parking and traffic generation;
  • Any changes to the shop front appearance;
  • Accessibility for persons with a disability; and
  • Advertising and signage

More detailed information on each of these steps can be found in Council's Development Application Preparation Guide(PDF, 2MB) (2.24mB PDF). Council’s Development advice and enquiries and Development applications web pages provides further information and links regarding the building and development process.

The Commercial/Industrial Development Checklist(PDF, 272KB) for Change of Use DAs details the required documentation for development applications and is required to be submitted with all applications.

Larger developments or developments that may have significant impact on the surrounding neighbourhood or environment may require some specialised technical skills to compile the various forms, plan and written documentation. Council's Development advice and enquiries web page provides a database of consultants operating in the local area that are experienced in assisting with applications lodged with Tweed Shire Council.


Step 3 - What costs are involved?

Development application fees

The fee for processing a standard development application is mainly based on:

  • the estimated cost of building works
  • any additional fees that may be needed (depending on the proposal)
  • the advertising and/or notification of persons who may be affected by your proposal
  • assessing advertising signage
  • a combined application for development approval and construction certificate
  • accompanying ancillary Council approvals, such as Section 138 of the Roads Act (driveway, road openings) and Section 68 of the Local Government Act (sewerage, water, stormwater permits)
  • integrated development
  • registration, inspection and administration in accordance with the Food Act or Public Health Act.

If there are no building works for your proposed business, the DA fee for most change of use applications will be less than $500.

See Planning, development and building application fees(PDF, 170KB) 

We strongly recommend speaking to Council staff before lodging your DA to confirm the correct fees.

Contact Council staff on 02 6670 2400 or email requesting a 'Development Application Fee Calculation'. You will need to provide details of your proposal and an estimated cost of works.

Application fees that are based on ‘estimated cost’ are determined in accordance with the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000.

Council will accept applicants genuine estimate of the completed cost unless it is significantly understated. If this happens, Council will make a genuine estimate of the completed costs associated with the construction and preparation of the building for its purpose including plant, fixtures and equipment and/or the construction costs of carrying out of a work, bushfire prone land compliance and/or the demolition cost of a building or work, as it applies to the application.

Building approval fees

Separate fees apply for:

  • Application for a Construction Certificate
  • Application for a Compliance Certificate
  • Application for Occupancy and Complying Development Certificate

Please see Planning, development and building application fees(PDF, 170KB) for current fees for all the main development, subdivision and construction certificate lodgement applications.

Post development approval costs

Development contribution charges may represent a significant cost for some Change of Use Development Approvals.

Development contribution charges are financial contributions levied for additional demands placed on a range of Council's infrastructure networks, most notably the traffic generation under the Tweed Road Contribution Plan (in lieu car parking under Contribution Plan No.23), and Council's sewer and water infrastructure (S64 Plans).

Most DAs are not affected by contribution requirements as they are only applied when a change of an existing approved use generates greater demand on Council services, such as a change from a clothes shop to a restaurant.

Business investment policy

Qualifying applicants may apply for concessions or deferred payments for some developer contribution charges.

See Business Investment Policy(PDF, 398KB) and Business Investment Policy Application Process(PDF, 87KB) for more information.

Step 4 - What are the timeframes for determining a council application?

All Change of Use DAs at Council are assessed by qualified and experienced planners in the Development Assessment Unit.

Typically, most commercial Change of Use DAs are determined within 60 days however varies depending on:

  • the adequacy of the DA lodgement
  • the complexity of any development constraints
  • possible negotiations needed with any objecting neighbours
  • any need for additional information or amended plans
  • possible reporting to a Council Meeting

The main determination will be either an approval (with accompanying conditions), or a refusal.

There are various legal avenues for you to seek a review or lodge an appeal against a Council determination.

Step 5 - When can you start operating your new business?

Operation of your business can start once all conditions of the Development Consent are satisfied, including any post DA approvals and payment of any fees.

No building work should be carried out until you have received Development Consent and have satisfied any specific conditions that are required before commencement of work (including post DA approvals such as a Construction Certificate). 

The Development Consent may also contain other conditions than need to be satisfied before occupation or use of the building, such as payment of any applicable contribution charges.

Carefully read each of the conditions of your consent. If you need clarification call Councils Development Assessment Unit.

If you are considering providing any outdoor eating area for your business, such as a cafe or restaurant, you will also be required to seek a separate approval from Council.

Council's footpath trading policy(PDF, 103KB) sets out design and footpath allocation requirements to ensure a safe environment for diners and pedestrians.

To apply for approval you need to submit the Footpath Trading Application(PDF, 275KB). Fees are based on a charge per square metre of the leased area, see fees and payments.

Step 6 - What are the operational issues that you need to be aware of?

Your business must operate in line with the conditions of the DA Consent.

If Council receives a complaint that you may not be operating in accordance with your consent, officers will investigate by contacting you to check details of the complaint.

This may lead to:

  • taking no further action
  • issuing a fine
  • legal proceedings (for serious breaches)

Always check with Council before making any significant changes to your business operations.

Council’s is also responsible for businesses that undertake activities that can impact public health such the preparation and selling of food and personal appearance services such as hairdressing, body piercing and tattooing.

NSW legislation sets specific requirements for these types of businesses and state that these businesses must be registered with Council.

Council’s Environmental Health Officers are responsible for ensuring premises and services comply with legislation.

For information about these requirements speak to one of our Environmental Health Officers.