What is DA Approval

In Queensland - Development Approval (DA) – refers to the regulatory approval that must be obtained prior to commencing a development. The DA authorises assessable development to take place and approval is issued by the local government authority - with or without conditions or not approved.

The development application is an application for a development approval made under the Planning Act 2016.

Development is defined in Schedule 2 of the Planning Act 2016 as:

  • carrying out building work
  • carrying out plumbing or drainage work
  • carrying out operational work
  • reconfiguring a lot (i.e. a subdivision)
  • making a material change of use of premises (i.e. starting a new use, re-establishing a use that has been abandoned or changing the intensity or scale of the use).

And you will require full DA approval prior to the commencement of any submission for building approval and/or work to commence on the development. 

There are three (3) main categories that a local DA Governing body may determine that an application falls into.

1. Prohibited development - approval will not be given

Prohibited development is not allowed under any circumstances - Only the State has the ability to prohibit developments.

2. Assessable development - approval is required

If you are considered an assessable development, it may be either a code assessable development or an impact assessable development. Code assessable developments do not require public consultation, while impact assessable developments do.

If your development involves variations from the allowed standards, you will need to have those variations assessed by the referral agency. Variations could include distance from property boundaries or the height of the building. The referral agency is likely to be the council or local authority.

3. Accepted development - approval is not required.


Exemption certificates release you from the need to get approval for assessable development. An exemption certificate is a statutory mechanism to deal with the inappropriate categorisation of development or if the effect of a proposed development is considered to be inconsequential. They are only issued in exceptional circumstances. The exemption certificate has effect for two years from the issue date or a later day stated in the certificate.

Ongoing Eligibility Requirements 

Where a development approval has been given, you will need to ensure that you have obtained any other necessary licences or permits before starting the development. You should also check the currency period on your approval - that is, the length of time you have to start the development.

How long does a DA approval certificate last?

Currently a DA approval certificate in Queensland is valid for 6 years. 

What are the costs?

Each application carries a variable fee as it is dependant on the type of development approval being applied for. 

How long does an application take?

The development approval process can take anywhere between two weeks and four months, depending on the complexity of the application.