Development rules (LEP, DCPs, Planning Proposals etc.)

Exempt or complying development

Common minor works such as fences, air conditioners, swimming pools etc. often do not require council approval if they meet certain guidelines. See if your work is exempt or complying development.

Development rules

For all development that is not exempt or complying, the rules are contained in the documents below. Start with the Woollahra Local Environmental Plan (LEP) and then determine which chapters in the development control plan (DCP) apply. In some cases a state environmental planning policy (SEPP) will also apply.

Woollahra development rules (LEPs and DCPs)

The hierarchy of development rules explains how the plans and policies relate to each other.

Local Environmental Plans (LEPs)

Woollahra LEP 2014

Woollahra Local Environmental Plan 2014 (Woollahra LEP 2014) commenced on 23 May 2015. It contains two parts – a written instrument and a series of maps:

  • Written instrument
    The written instrument comprises land use tables and a series of clauses that regulate development throughout the local government area (LGA).
  • Maps
    The first map is the Land Application Map which establishes where the LEP applies. It includes all land in the LGA. For the remaining maps, the LGA has been divided up into a series of map 'tiles'. Each tile relates to the same geographical area.

As of 26 April 2023, a reference to a Business zone B1, B2 or B4 in a document should be taken to be a reference to an Employment zone E1 or MU1. For further information please see published equivalent zones tables.

Draft LEPs / Planning Proposals

Current planning proposals

Draft planning proposals

Previous planning proposals

Information on requests for planning proposals can be found here.

Previous LEPs - WLEP 1995 & WLEP No. 27

Woollahra Local Environmental Plan 1995 (Woollahra LEP 1995)

Woollahra LEP 1995 was repealed by Woollahra LEP 2014 on 23 May 2015. For new applications, please see Woollahra LEP 2014.

As per the savings provision relating to development applications (see Cl 1.8A in Woollahra LEP 2014), if a development application was made and not determined before the 23 May 2015, the application must be determined as if Woollahra LEP 2014 has not commenced.

The Woollahra LEP 1995 text and associated maps are provided below.

Woollahra Local Environmental Plan No. 27 (Woollahra LEP No. 27) - applying to Strickland House, Vaucluse

Woollahra LEP No. 27 (15 January 1988, as amended) applied to the land at Strickland House, Vaucluse until 23 May 2015 when it was repealed by Woollahra LEP 2014. Under Woollahra LEP No. 27 the site is zoned Special Uses 5(a) (Hospital) and is identified as a heritage item.


What is an LEP?

An LEP or ‘local environmental plan’ is Council’s main legal document for controlling development and guiding planning decisions made by Council to ensure that growth and development occurs in a planned and coordinated manner consistent with Council and community expectations and needs.

  1. An LEP contains land use zones which establish where residential, commercial, recreation and other uses can occur. It has development controls for buildings and land, including controls for height, floor space, subdivision and lot size. An LEP also provides protection for trees, heritage items, heritage conservation areas and environmentally sensitive areas.

An LEP is made by Council in consultation with the community, and approved by the Minister for Planning, according to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000.

It is reviewed every 7 to 10 years to ensure that the LEP is forward looking and suitably addresses current and emerging planning issues.

What are land use zones?

Land use zones are a way of locating compatible land uses together. Land use zones establish the type of land uses that are permitted (with or without consent) or prohibited in each zone. For example, a hotel may be permitted in a business zone but prohibited in an area zoned for residential purposes.

Typical zoning colours are shades of pink for residential use and shades of blue for commercial use, with recreational areas shown in green.

There are 11 land use zones in Woollahra LEP 2014. These are shown on the Land Zoning Map.

What is the land use table?

Each zone contains specific land uses that are permissible or prohibited. These are listed in the land use table.

Can my house or apartment be used for short-term rental accommodation?

Under Woollahra Local Environmental Plan 2014 (Woollahra LEP 2014), bed and breakfasts are permitted 'with consent' in all residential and commercial zones. This means that under Woollahra LEP 2014, development consent is needed from Council prior to operating a bed and breakfast.

Bed and breakfast accommodation is defined as:

an existing dwelling in which temporary or short-term accommodation is provided on a commercial basis by the permanent residents of the dwelling and where:

  • (a) meals are provided for guests only, and
  • (b) cooking facilities for the preparation of meals are not provided within guests' rooms, and
  • (c) dormitory-style accommodation is not provided.

Importantly, this type of accommodation is to be provided by the permanent residents of the dwelling who must be present on-site. Short-term accommodation where the permanent residents are absent, e.g. as can be provided by services such as Airbnb, Stayz and Rentbyowner, are not bed and breakfast accommodation. There is no definition in Woollahra LEP 2014 for this type of short-term accommodation.

In certain circumstances, bed and breakfast accommodation is permissible as complying development in dwelling houses under Part 1 and Part 4A, Subdivision 1 of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (Codes SEPP). For example, the property must be a dwelling house (not an apartment) and have at least 1 off-road car parking space.

Therefore, the short-term leasing of houses and apartments (in residential areas) is not permissible unless a development consent or a complying development certificate has been issued for the use of the property as bed and breakfast accommodation.

Note: If your property is located in a commercial zone, under Woollahra LEP 2014 there are a greater range of permissible types of tourist and visitor accommodation, e.g. serviced apartments.

Background information

Copies of relevant committee reports and Council resolutions which were published during the preparation and adoption of Woollahra LEP 2014 are available.

Development Control Plans (DCPs)

Woollahra DCP 2015

The Woollahra DCP 2015 applies to the whole LGA. It contains seven parts, and comprises chapters within each part.

Note: Those provisions in Woollahra DCP 2015 that specify requirements, standards or controls that relate to certain matters which are listed in clause 6A of SEPP No 65 Design Quality of Residential Apartment Development have no effect in the assessment and determination of a development application for development to which SEPP No 65 applies.

Residential apartment development is defined in clause 4 of SEPP No 65. It comprises residential flat buildings, shop top housing and mixed use development with a residential accommodation component. The building must be at least three or more storeys (excluding levels below existing ground level or levels that are less than 1.2m above existing ground level that provide car parking). The building must contain at least four or more dwellings.

All other provisions of Woollahra DCP 2015 can be applied to the assessment and determination of a DA for development to which SEPP No 65 applies.

As of 1 December 2021, a reference to an Environment Protection zone E1, E2, E3 or E4 in a document should be taken to be a reference to a Conservation zone C1, C2, C3 or C4. For further information please see Standard Instrument (Local Environmental Plans) Amendment (Land Use Zones) Order 2021

Part A: Introduction and Administration

Part A applies to all development applications (DAs).

Part B: General Residential

Part B applies to DAs proposed on land located within certain residential precincts and neighbourhood heritage conservation areas.

Part C: Heritage Conservation Areas

Part C applies to DAs proposed on land located within the heritage conservation areas of Paddington, Woollahra and Watsons Bay.

Part D: Business Centres

Part D applies to DAs proposed on land in the Edgecliff, Double Bay and Rose Bay Centres, as well as to land zoned B1 Neighbourhood Centre or B4 Mixed Use Centre under the Woollahra LEP.

Part E: General Controls for All Development

Part E contains general controls which can apply to development irrespective of location. It establishes controls that all applications must consider.

Part F: Land Use Specific Controls

Part F applies to DAs relating to specific development types. The controls in Part F apply in addition to the controls in Parts B, C or D (as relevant).

Part G: Site-Specific Controls

Part G applies to DAs proposed on specific sites. The controls in Part G apply in addition to the controls in Parts B, C or D (as relevant).

Woollahra DCP 2015: Full Document

Woollahra DCP 2015 Full Document(PDF, 61MB)

Draft DCPs

Current Draft DCPs

Previous Draft DCPs

Woollahra DCP 2015 - Repealed or Amended Chapters

These chapters have either been repealed or amended.

As per the savings and transitional provisions relating to development applications (see A1.1.9 in Woollahra DCP 2015), these chapters continue to apply to development applications, applications to modify development consents and applications for review of a determination that were made prior to, but not determined before the chapter was repealed or amended.

Previous DCPs & Codes

As per the savings and transitional provisions relating to development applications (see A1.1.9 in Woollahra DCP 2015), these DCPs and codes continue to apply to development applications, applications to modify development consents and applications for review of a determination, that were made prior to but not determined on 23 May 2015.

DCPs applying to specific properties

Previous Codes

Woollahra DCP 2015 replaced all existing DCPs and repealed these three codes:

What is a DCP?

A DCP is a document prepared by Council to guide people when they propose to carry out development. It is also used by Council when it assesses and determines development applications.

A DCP contains detailed planning and building design guidelines for new development and for alterations and additions to existing development. A DCP operates with the Council's local environmental plan (LEP).

Background information

View copies of relevant Urban Planning Committee and Strategic and Corporate Committee reports and Council resolutions which were published during the preparation and adoption of Woollahra DCP 2015.

Woollahra Community Participation Plan (CPP)

The Woollahra Community Participation Plan(PDF, 3MB) applies to the whole local government area. It sets out the advertising, notification and community consultation requirements for development applications and strategic planning matters under Council’s jurisdiction.

Notification of development applications

The plan applies to all development applications lodged with Council except for development applications for:

  • State significant development
  • designated development
  • any other types of development applications that relate to “advertised development” under the Environmental Planning and Assessment  1979 (EP&A Act).

NOTE: The advertising and notification provisions of the EP&A Act and Regulation, the Local Government Act 1993, the Heritage Act 1977, any other State act applicable to Woollahra and any applicable State environmental planning policy, take precedence over this plan.

Woollahra Local Strategic Planning Statement (LSPS)

The Woollahra Local Strategic Planning Statement 2020 is a legal document that sets out a 20 year vision and planning priorities for managing future land use and preserving our community’s values and the special characteristics of our area. It supports and guides Woollahra’s planning controls to help ensure our area continues to be a great place to live work, play and visit.

All councils in Greater Sydney are required by law to prepare a LSPS. The LSPS links local planning to NSW State Government strategic planning and sets out a clear path for how land use planning in Woollahra will respond to changes over the next 20 years.

The Woollahra LSPS 2020 is supported by the Woollahra Local Housing Strategy 2021(PDF, 14MB) (Woollahra LHS 2021) which sets out objectives and actions for housing and affordable housing across our area and the Woollahra Affordable Housing Policy 2021(PDF, 543KB) (Woollahra AHP 2021) which guides decision making by defining Council's role in relation to affordable housing.

All planning proposals to amend the Woollahra LEP 2014 or applications to amend the Woollahra DCP 2015 must have regard to the Woollahra LSPS 2020 and the Woollahra LHS 2021.

Aboriginal Heritage Sensitivity

The Woollahra Aboriginal Heritage Study,(PDF, 12MB) endorsed by Council on 26 July 2021, provides Council with a vital resource and a management strategy to manage Aboriginal heritage during the development process.

The Aboriginal cultural heritage sensitivity map can be found below, so that you can identify whether your property is within an area of Aboriginal sensitivity.

Please refer to Council’s DA Guide for further information to help guide the preparation of your development application. Additional information can be found under Heritage Conservation.

Development Contributions

Woollahra Section 7.12 Development Contributions and Woollahra Section 94 Plans

Contributions plans prepared under section 7.11 or 7.12 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (formerly section 94 and 94A) allow funds to be raised from approved development applications and complying development applications. The funds are used for the intended provision, extension or augmentation of public facilities, or towards recouping the cost of facilities that have been provided, extended or augmented. Applies to the whole municipality.

Current contributions plans

Draft contributions plan 

Voluntary Planning Agreement Policy

The policy establishes a framework for Council to negotiate planning agreements with developers. A planning agreement is a voluntary agreement between Council and a developer, where the developer agrees to make contributions towards a public purpose as part of a development application or planning proposal. Contributions can be monetary, works-in-kind, the dedication of land, or any other material public benefit (or any combination of these). Planning agreements will apply to development applications which justifiably exceed existing development controls, or planning proposals which seek to amend the Woollahra Local Environmental Plan 2014.

Voluntary Planning Agreement Policy 2020(PDF, 797KB)