Do I need development approval?

Man working on plans on laptop

1. Overview

In most cases, development approval is required before you commence any kind of development work. This includes:

  • demolishing, constructing, adding or altering any building;
  • erecting a sign;
  • putting up a fence (certain fencing and zones impact approval requirements);
  • changing the land use of a property;
  • any type of work that will impact a regulated or significant tree(PDF, 327KB); and
  • division or alteration of the boundaries of an allotment. 

You can use the wizard on the PlanSA website to find out if you need development approval. 

2. Established Site

If you are starting or taking over a business on an established site with the same land use proposed, then development approval may not be required, other than for:

  • A change in external advertising signs;
  • A change in any conditions of approval that relate to the site; e.g. hours of operation, carparking provision, capacity of the premises for the public, number of practitioners; and
  • A permit for outdoor seating and dining. 

3. Change of Land Use

If a change in land use is proposed, e.g. changing the land use of a property from a showroom to a cafe', you will need to find out if the site is suitable for the proposed use. To do this, you can refer to the Planning and Design Code, which outlines provisions relating to the zoning of the land and related development potential.

To find out the zoning of your property, and identify all relevant provisions in terms of land uses desired in the zone, please refer to the SA Property and Planning Atlas and the PlanSA website

If you have any questions or specific areas of concerns regarding the use of a potential premise for your business after reading through the "Map and Zoning Details", we strongly recommended you speak to a Council planner before signing a lease or purchase agreement by phone  on (08) 8372 5111 or via email at

A change in land use involves:

Change of land use application

If a change of land use is required, then a planning application will need to be lodged via the PlanSA Portal, accompanied by:

  • Scaled plans, including a site plan, the layout and proposed use of rooms, any external changes to the building (or the external appearance of a new building) including elevations, storm water arrangements, and carparking/access/loading-unloading and landscaping layout and details. An architect may be required to prepare the plans.
  • A statement of support setting out such matters as how the proposed use is to operate in terms of hours of operation, staff numbers, customer capacity, whether liquor licensed, compatibility of the use in the zone and locality, measures (if necessary) to control noise.  A planning consultant may be required to prepare this statement. 


Public notification of a proposed use

Depending on the location of the proposal and the intended nature of the development, a planning application may require public notification. The PlanSA Portal provides a guide to public notifications and referrals , however a Council Planning Officer can also assist. 

If public notification is required for your application, Council will write to all property owners and occupiers of land within 60 metres of the boundary of the proposed site.  A sign will also be required to be erected on the front fence of the site, advising of the proposed development, including displaying a QR Code to access plans. The public will have 15 business days to inform Council of any objections or support for the development (and whether they wish to have their objections heard). Once collated, the applicant has 15 business days to respond to Council regarding the concerns raised, which may involve clarification of the details submitted or changes to the application in response to the objections.



Assessment of the proposal

The first step the Council Planning Officer will take is to verify the application, informing you of the fees to be paid, the nature of the development, the assessment process it will follow, whether public notification will be required, and any information or plans that need to be submitted further to those lodged with the application. 

Once all the above has been provided, you should allow the application to take a minimum of:

  • 20 business days to assess the application (if not subject to public notification)
  • 60 business days to assess the application (if subject to public notification)


Building approval

Once planning approval is complete, the proposed use may require Building Approval.  This can be undertaken by Council or a private building certifier and includes approval for the structural details o the building, fire safety and exits, classification and capacity of the building, amongst other things.