Complying Development (CDC) House construction site

I’m Building through a Complying Development Certificate (CDC), and need Retaining Walls. Why do I need a Landscape Plan?

What is Complying Development (CDC)?

In a perfect world the Complying Development Code (CDC) speeds up the approvals process. It takes the headache out of paperwork when building a house or commercial development. It provides a simple set of rules for the whole of NSW. Also it cuts out the council Development Application (DA) process.

That’s the story!

The Problem with Complying Development (CDC)

From a Landscape perspective the Complying Development Code (CDC) is a bit of a problem.

The problem is that CDC is designed mostly for large developers. Big developers flatten large areas of land, and build multiple houses on them all at once. As a result, things like slopes and retaining walls are an afterthought. The CDC rules around landscaping and retaining walls are simple, and vague.

Therefore, while building your house or commercial development is more simple under CDC, often the landscape works still need to go through Council. Until the landscape works are approved, many Private Certifiers will refuse to give Certification for Occupation Certificate.

In many council areas the Development Control Plan (DCP) disagrees with the Complying Development Code. As a result, you will often find that Cut and Fill allowed through CDC is not allowed to be held back by a Retaining Wall of the same height when going through council. For example, in Box Hill and North Kellyville of the Hills Shire, the maximum height of a retaining wall under the DCP is 500mm. Under CDC, up to 3 metres of Cut is allowed!

You see this same problem in many of the growth centres of Sydney. Areas like Liverpool, Campbelltown, Penrith and Camden often have this problem.

Builders, Clients, and Complying Development

Many people build through a House and Land package. For a lot of builders CDC has been a fantastic gift. As a result of it they can do away with the DA process and move straight on to building.

When it works, this idea is fantastic. The problem comes when they hit sloping land. They can Cut and Fill as needed to get your house or factory built. However they often can’t Retain that cut and fill. The Certifier won’t sign off until there are Approved Retaining Walls.

If you are reading this you probably have this problem.

Your plans probably show a retaining wall. However, it has a note that says something like “Retaining wall by client after handover”. This leaves you with a set of keys and an “Interim Occupation Certificate”. You probably have a letter from the Certifier telling you that you need landscaping built to an Approved Landscape Plan.

And you probably have 3 months to comply.

The Solution

Councils are aware of these problems. They have experience in dealing with this issue. They regularly have to bring together buildings and landscapes approved under two different pieces of legislation.

This does NOT mean they will let you do anything you want!

Instead it means they give you a little flexibility when assessing landscape designs for CDC built homes and developments.

What Can We Do?

Thankfully for you D.A. Landscape Plans has dealt with many of these types of development. After the builder has constructed their house, we have helped dozens of clients through the Development Application process.

The outcome depends on the situation.

If the block is not too steep, then it can be as simple as specifying landscape works for council to approve.

If it is more complicated, then we can talk through a number of different solutions.

We always try to find the outcome that is best for the client, yet makes the application process as quick and simple as possible.

What will it Cost?

As always with these things, the price depends on the job.

Obviously some jobs are Simple, and some jobs are more Complex. Some sites are Small and some are Amazingly Large.

We always try to give a Firm Quote for the work, so you know where you stand.

To discuss your personal situation feel free to call us on 0468400149

or email at

Or just use the CONTACT page.