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Wollongong City Council

Trees and Development

When we make decisions about development across our city, one of the things we look at is how trees will be affected.

If you make a Development Application, you’ll be asked to show what trees are currently on your property, and those on surrounding properties.

Chapter E17 of the Wollongong Development Control Plan 2009 PDF, 399.27 KB explains how trees need to be protected during development. It’s a good idea to read this information as early as you can if you’re planning a development.

Work on trees and vegetation as part of development must follow a hierarchy.

  1. Avoid negative impacts on plants
  2. Minimise impacts on plants if they can't be avoided
  3. Offset the impacts of development on plants if they can't be minimised. This could include things like planting more trees or vegetation to make up for those that are removed.

You can read more about this hierarchy in the Wollongong Development Control Plan 2009 - Chapter E18 PDF, 431.95 KB.

Trees play an important role in many of Council's goals for residential development, including:

  • Protect and keep mature native vegetation, and encourage the planting of additional significant vegetation
  • Encourage links between habitat corridors along the back of properties
  • Minimise water run-off in urban areas, and allow for increased water infiltration
  • Help to create pleasant views from homes and backyards
  • Maintain privacy and reduce the impact of development on the rear of residential properties.

If your land is bushfire prone, different rules could apply to how you should treat trees and plants during development.

See our Development on Bush Fire Prone Land page for more information.

You will generally need development approval to prune or remove trees if:

  • The proposed pruning or removal is part of building work or another activity that requires a development application.
  • The tree or vegetation is identified as a heritage item, is part of a heritage item, or is in a heritage conservation area, and the activity is not considered 'minor development'*.
  • The tree or vegetation is an Aboriginal object, forms part of an Aboriginal object, or is within an Aboriginal Place*.
  • The location of the tree or vegetation is mapped as being within coastal wetlands or a littoral rainforest area under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Coastal Management) 2018.

* Note: Approval for work on trees may need to go through separate assessment processes under State legislation if they are part of a heritage item of State significance under the NSW Heritage Act (1977); or if they are a registered Aboriginal Site or within a declared Aboriginal Place under the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Act (1974).

Rules about protected and heritage trees can be complicated, so it's best to check with us before you start any applications.

If your development will affect native vegetation, you should check the NSW Government's online tool to see if the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme applies.

You may need to include a Biodiversity Values Map and Threshold (BMAT) report, and / or a flora and fauna assessment with your application.

If your application does meet the criteria for the Biodiversity Offset Scheme, your DA will also need to include a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report. This must be prepared by an accredited assessor in line with the Biodiversity Conservation Act.

If your development application is approved, read the conditions in your consent document carefully. They will explain any special conditions about how you need to protect trees on the property.

If you want to do any other tree works that aren’t listed on your consent, you’ll need to get approval from Council.

The type of approval you’ll need for additional tree works will depend on your individual case. We recommend you call us on (02) 4227 7111 for advice.

Many straightforward types of development can be done as Complying Development.

If you're doing work as Complying Development and want to prune or remove any trees, you should contact us to check if you need approval for the tree works.

Call (02) 4227 7111 or email us for advice about trees and complying development.

A Vegetation Management Plan (VMP) will assist land managers and owners during and after development. This will protect existing native vegetation and habitat from disturbance and also help reduce impacts from development activities.

A VMP may be required:

  • As part of a Development Application following Council's Development Control Plan 2009
  • Following unauthorised activities, such as land clearing and hazard reduction without approval
  • Where poor management of a development site may have led to clearing or damage of vegetation that should have been retained
  • In addition to a landscape plan or a weed management plan
  • To comply with the Biosecurity Act 2015.

If you need information, read the Vegetation Management Guidelines PDF, 13899.86 KB