Planning and construction approval documentation - what's required?

This page explains the documentation relating to development and construction approvals you need to provide to Roads and Maritime Services before construction can begin.


The bed of Sydney Harbour, Botany Bay, Newcastle Harbour and Port Kembla Harbour is publicly-owned land. On behalf of the public, this land is vested in Roads and Maritime.

A tenure agreement is required in order to occupy or build upon any land occupied by these waterways. As owner of the land, Roads and Maritime also has to be satisfied that the structures are generally capable of being occupied or used and have received all necessary planning approvals. This obligation is reinforced by the Maritime Services Act 1935 which stipulates that permission from Roads and Maritime is required to build or alter any structures on these waterways.

In order to carry out any development on Roads and Maritime land you will need to firstly provide evidence of any applicable development and construction approvals. These approvals will generally be required to be provided before a new tenure agreement can be finalised.

In cases where an existing tenure agreement is already in place which may provide for the proposed development, these approvals still need be supplied to Roads and Maritime before works commence.

Development approvals

Before construction begins on Roads and Maritime land, the proposed development should have appropriate planning permission.

In most cases, this permission will be in the form of a development consent from a local council, a Joint Regional Planning Panel, the Department of Planning & Environment or Roads and Maritime itself.

Roads and Maritime should be supplied with both a copy of the ‘Notice of Determination’ of development consent and a copy of the plans of the development, stamped as approved by the relevant consent authority.

In some cases repairs and maintenance works to existing lawful waterway structures can be undertaken as 'exempt' or 'complying' development.

Some projects, such as those carried out by public authorities, do not require either development consent. Instead, that authority has an obligation to assess the environmental impact of its own project – for example, in the case of a local council building a boat ramp. In these cases, Roads and Maritime should be supplied with a copy of the environmental assessment carried out on that project. This will generally be in the form of a Review of Environmental Factors (REF) or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and should cover any potential impact on navigation. The assessment should contain plans and a description of the project and must not be in a draft form.

Where development does not fall within one of the categories noted above, it is important to clarify the means by which it is allowed to be undertaken. For example, Commonwealth departments (such as the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust) are empowered to carry out certain development via Commonwealth legislation. In these cases, a letter should be provided to Roads and Maritime setting out how this legislation provides for the project, along with a copy of any relevant assessment and/or plans.

Construction approvals

Before construction begins on Roads and Maritime land, proposed development should be structurally sound and be shown to comply with all relevant building standards.

Most development which has received development consent will also be the subject of a Construction Certificate (CC). This can be issued by either the consent authority or by an accredited certifier and confirms that the development will comply with the Building Code of Australia and any other applicable construction requirements. If the development was subject to a CC, Roads and Maritime Services should be supplied with a copy of this as well as the accompanying stamped approved plans.

Further certification in addition to a CC may be required if the development includes pontoons or other floating structures which are not addressed within the CC (see checklist). In these instances, the pontoons should either be explicitly covered by the CC or separate certification provided from a Registered Engineer.

If the development was subject to an REF or EIS, that particular document may contain either details of the construction arrangements or a statement verifying compliance. If not made explicit in the document, accompanying written confirmation should be provided from the relevant public authority that the development will comply with all relevant building codes and technical standards. This same requirement also applies to any work undertaken via Commonwealth legislation.

If a Complying Development Certificate (CDC) has been issued for works that can be undertaken as complying development, no further documentation is required as the CDC itself confirms compliance with all relevant building codes.


Development approvals

Provide one of the following:

  • Copy of a valid Notice of Determination and approved plans from the appropriate consent authority
  • Copy of final environmental assessment (REF or EIS), including plans
  • Letter from Commonwealth Department confirming how the project has been approved with accompanying environmental assessment and plans
  • Letter from proponent setting out why further planning permission is not required
  • Copy of Complying Development Certificate and accompanying plans.

Construction approvals

Provide one of the following:

  • Copy of a valid Construction Certificate and accompanying stamped plans
    Note that if the proposal includes pontoons or other floating structures, Roads and Maritime will also need to be supplied with either:
    • Confirmation taht the Construction Certificate covers these elements of the development, or
    • Certification from a Registered Engineer that these elements will comply with all applicable Australian Standards
  • Copy of a valid Complying Development Certificate
  • Written confirmation that the development will comply with all relevant building codes and technical standards.

More information

For more information on what documentation is required, please contact your property officer or the Property Strategy & Planning Branch on 13 22 13.

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