Unauthorised building work and uses

Any alleged unauthorised work associated with an active development site should be reported to the principal certifier (PC) appointed for the development. For more information, see Principal certifiers and Council.

All other alleged unauthorised building work and uses should be reported to Council on 9391 7000. Our Customer Services staff will record the information provided in Council’s electronic Customer Request Management system (CRM) and will provide the caller with a CRM reference number. It is important that the caller provides their contact details as anonymous complaints may not be investigated. The matter is then referred to Council’s Compliance Section for investigation.

What action will the Council take?

Unauthorised building work can take many forms from very minor technical breaches where there is little or no environmental harm to blatant breaches of environmental laws aimed at securing outcomes where approval would never have been granted had the proper application been made.

While Council attempts to be proactive in identifying unauthorised work, we rely heavily upon the public to make complaints and to provide evidence to assist Council in taking enforcement action.

Enforcement action, if necessary may include:

  • Notices and Orders requiring the offender to do or refrain from doing something
  • Prosecution for criminal offences
  • Fines (penalty infringement notices)
  • Alternative dispute resolution agreements to avoid or settle court proceedings
  • Injunctions to restrain or remedy serious breaches (Court Orders).

Council does not have unlimited resources and must exercise discretion when deciding how to deal with unauthorised work, taking into account all relevant information including the available evidence, cost to the community of any action, the circumstances of the individual case and public policy and precedent considerations. How Council will apply its discretion is explained in the Enforcement Policy(PDF, 884KB) and we will always explain the reasons for our decisions.

One significant question that we ask in relation to unauthorised work is "Had the proper application been made would we have granted approval?"

If the answer to this question is "Yes" then we may permit the illegal work to stay but may consider other enforcement options such as a Penalty Notice. If the answer is "No" then we may require the illegal work to be demolished.

It is a criminal offence to breach the environmental planning laws. A Penalty Notice can be issued for up to $3,000 for an individual or $6,000 for a corporation. Additional fines for serious cases can be imposed by the Land and Environment Court of up to $1,000,000 for an individual and $5,000,000 for a corporation. In very serious cases, a custodial sentence may be imposed by a Court.