The Ultimate Guide To Granny Flat Approvals

 In Granny Flat FAQs

There once was a time where you’d need a Development Application to build something as significant as a secondary dwelling on your property. And along with it came months of waiting for approval.

Thankfully, the ARHSEPP has been put in place to boost the supply of affordable accommodation, allowing property owners to apply for a Complying Development Certificate instead. This game-changing time saver could have your granny flat construction approved in as little as 10 days!

But that’s a few too many technical terms at once. Let’s break it down.


What is the Affordable Rental Housing State Environmental Planning Policy?

The Affordable Rental Housing State Environmental Planning Policy (ARHSEPP for short) has been designed to support the availability and diversity of affordable rental accommodation in New South Wales. And that means the granny flat you’re planning to build in the backyard could be covered!

Under this policy, your local council or any accredited certifier can issue an approval for a secondary dwelling construction project as complying development – so long as it meets certain criteria. Check out the standards for development to determine whether your build fits the bill.


What is a Complying Development Certificate?

A complying development certificate is a fast-tracked alternative to a standard development application. Covering both land use and construction works, this planning and building approval process is reserved for straightforward residential developments – A.K.A your new granny flat!

But it’s not a given for every build. To be eligible, your proposed development needs to comply with:

  • The complying development criteria outlined in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act and Regulations and the appropriate SEPP (you can organise a Section 10.7 Certificate application from Council to confirm exactly what planning controls apply to your land).
  • Any applicable planning and building controls under the Building Code of Australia (BCA).

Lodging an application

Once you’ve got the green light on the above, you’ll need to submit a Complying Development Certificate application form to your nominated accredited certifier or local council. Review and approval takes between 4-20 days, after which they’ll issue the Complying Development Certificate. Note that you’ll have to receive this before any construction work begins (and that includes site works like excavation and demolition!).


Requirements for building a granny flat without council approval

Granny flat near tree

Covering the basics

Now that you’ve got to grips with the ARHSEPP (and its concept of complying development), you’ve got to make sure your backyard is suitable for a granny flat under this policy’s terms. That means fitting some fundamental criteria.

Your property must:

  • Be zoned as either:
    • General Residential – Zone R1
    • Low Density Residential – Zone R2
    • Medium Density Residential – Zone R3
    • High Density Residential – Zone R4, or
    • Large Lot Residential – Zone R4
  • Have a minimum total area of 450m²
  • Have a 12m width at the existing dwelling’s building line
  • Maintain a minimum setback of 3m from the rear of your property and 0.9m from its side boundaries
  • Maintain a minimum of 60m² external area
  • Remain at least 3m from any trees over 6m tall
  • Exist alongside another dwelling
  • Be built on the same site as this principal dwelling (rather than on an individual lot in a community title scheme or strata plan)

We’re aware we’ve just thrown a heap of numbers at you, so here’s a diagram to map it all out.

Complying development map

Building on a bigger site

Don’t write all that down just yet. Those figures above change as land gets larger – over 900m2 to be exact. Take a look at our table below to find out the NSW council requirements for lots ranging from 900m2 to 1,500m2 and exceeding 1,500m2.

Granny Flat Setback Requirements for Approval on Your Block Size:

Lot Size (sqm) Minimum frontage (lineal meters)Min Side Setback Height <=3.8mMin Rear Setback Height <=3.8m
Two storey granny flat – Backyard Grannys

Get your granny flat approved in just 10 days!

Ready to swap lengthy council approval for a Complying Development Certificate?

Provided your property abides by the sizing requirements explained above, you’re all set to avail of this speedy granny flat approval process.

And if you’re unsure whether your plot passes the test, we’ll arrange for one of our experts to perform a free site inspection and determine whether a granny flat can be built with a Complying Development Certificate.

Simply give us a call or fill out the form below!

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