Council Permissions

Do I need council permission to build a shade sail?

If you’re planning on getting a shade sail, it is important to consider the council approval and planning permissions you’ll need. Your local council will have rules surrounding development approvals in your area. Whether you need approval and what kind you need is dependent on a range of factors including the design, size and placement of your potential shade sail at the discretion of your local council. If you don’t gain the appropriate permissions your council could demand you remove it, or it will cause trouble for you later on.

In New South Wales, the state Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and your local council asses development and building requests in line with the State Environmental Planning Policy. Generally, shade sails are considered Exempt or Compliant Development which means you don’t need any approval or have a simplified approval process, but there are exemptions.

When you need planning permission

Heritage & Conservation Zones 

If your building is a listed local or state heritage site, or part of a protected or conservation zone you must speak with your local council before building your shade sail. Even if your sail is a free-standing structure that won’t damage the building, heritage restrictions may still consider it as changing the appearance of the building. Other protected zones, may have specific design requirements to assist in the preservation of nearby flora and fauna, or properties along the foreshore or in high-risk bushfire and flood areas.

The sail is too large

If your shade sail is going to cover more than 20m2 you will need to apply for development permission from your council. You will also need permission if any part of the sail will be over 3m tall, above the ground level or the floor level or whatever surface it’s constructed on, for example, a deck. If you are planning multiple shade sails, or already have one on the site, you will need to seek permission if more than 15% of the ground floor area of all buildings on the lot will be covered by shade sails.

The location of the sail 

If any part of your shade sail will be in front of the building line on the side of the primary street, you will need to gain council permission. If your home is on a corner block, your primary street is usually the street named in your address. If you have another approved structure, such as a shed or garage that is in front of the main house, the building line is moved forward to the front edge of that structure. 

The distance your shade sail needs to be from the boundary line to be exempt varies. Generally, your sail should be at least 900mm from any boundary line. However, if you live in some Rural or Large Lot Residential Zones this can extend as far as five meters on all sides, or in some duplexes and terraced houses, three meters from your rear boundary. Depending on your home, the size of your property and the surrounding buildings these rules can differ so it’s best to check with your council.

Other considerations

Planning permission is not the only kind of council approval you might need. Your council might have different local requirements, so it’s always best to confirm with your council exactly what kind of approvals you need. For example, if your shade sail is an exempt development, the City of Newcastle doesn’t need to approve your sail, but they still may want to see evidence that you are complying with the state standards. If you have a complying development you may still need to submit a development application, in the Central Coast Council area a complying development certificate is subject to a shorter 10-day approval process.

How we can help

Our local team can help you ensure that your new shade sail design will fit within your council’s guidelines and help you through the approval and certification process. Newcastle Shade Sails has extensive experience designing and installing a variety of custom shade sails in the area. Call us today to start planning your new shade sail with a local expert.