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Wollongong City Council

Small Business Planning Advice

Thinking of starting a new small business in Wollongong? We've put together a general guide below to help you work out what approvals you'll need, and how to get them.

Your first step should be to clearly define what your business will be. Having clear and specific details will help you understand the likely impacts and planning approvals needed. This should include things like:

  • Any work needed to prepare your site
  • Hours of operation
  • Staff and patron or customer numbers
  • Traffic and parking needs
  • Access for pedestrians and vehicles
  • Environmental impacts such as noise, odour and emissions, and things you'll need to do to manage these
  • Waste generation, storage and servicing
  • Internal fit-outs
  • Signage.

Any site for your business will have a mix of opportunities and obstacles. Understanding these will help you choose the right location, and make sure a site is suitable before you buy or lease a property, or go to the expense of preparing and lodging any applications for approval.

Key information you need to know about your site includes:

  • The land zone. You can check this by searching for the address on our online map.
  • What activities are allowed in the land zone. This is explained in our Local Environmental Plans.
  • Site constraints and how they'll affect your business. This could include bush fire or flood prone land, contamination, heritage, easements or access issues.
  • If you're making alterations or changing the use of a building, you may need to make upgrades to meet access and fire safety requirements under the Building Code of Australia.
  • How other land and buildings near your site are used, and what impact your activity might have on them (and vice versa).

Once you have a full picture of what your business will do and where it will be, you can identify any approvals you need to get started.

Running a business is considered to be a type of development. There are three categories for development, and each has different approval requirements.

Exempt Development

Many small-impact activities don’t need any approvals as long as they follow state standards. This can include things like home employment, some advertising and signage, minor alterations and additions, and some changes of use.

Read more about exempt development on the NSW Planning Portal.

Complying Development

Complying Development is a faster way to get approval for many straightforward types of development. This can include things like running a bed and breakfast or food manufacturing business from home, and some fire safety works.

Any complying development work will need to meet planning rules, and be signed off by Council or a certified building professional (called a Private Certifier).

More information about complying development can be found on the NSW Planning Portal.

Development Application

Anything that doesn’t meet the rules for exempt or complying development will need to get approval from Council by lodging a development application. See the next section of this page for tips on preparing a DA for your small business.

If you need to lodge a Development Application (DA) for your business, make sure your application is thorough and complete. This makes record keeping easier, and it can also make the approval process smoother and more efficient.

What needs to be included in your DA will depend on your individual case. Generally, DAs for a small business will need these things:

See our Lodge a Development Application page for more details about the application process.

If your DA is approved, you will be issued with a development consent. This is the legal document that authorises your development, and it's important that you clearly understand what the consent conditions require.

If your development involves works, you'll need to follow the steps outlined on our Building page.  Generally this will include:

  • Appointing a Principal Certifying Authority (PCA) to oversee works
  • Getting a Construction Certificate before work starts
  • Getting an Occupation Certificate at the end of works, before you start operating your business.

These resources may help you with planning for a small business:

You can also talk to Council's Duty Planner  for Development Advice or email our Small Business Planning Team.