How long does a development approval last?

21 December 2019

If you have an existing development approval for a property or you’ve just got one, you might be wondering if there is an expiration date. 

Sections 85 and 88 of the Planning Act 2016 outlines the default currency periods. But a council’s development approval can specify any period and override the Act’s currency periods.

Here’s a guide of how long some approvals typically might last:

  • Material Change of Use (MCU) - the currency period is 6 years for the first change of use to happen (i.e. the use commences)

  • Reconfiguring a Lot (ROL) - the currency period is 4 years for the plan of subdivision (survey plan) to be submitted to council for approval, called Plan Sealing

  • Variation Approval - this lapses 5 years after the approval takes effect

  • Any other development, including Building Approval, the currency period is 2 years and the development must substantially start within that period (it does not have to be completed)

  • For a Staged Approval, any aspect completed within the currency period is lawful and any stages not complete lapse.

For approvals at risk of lapsing, section 86 of the Act allows you to submit a request to the council or Private Certifier requesting an extension to the currency period (Extension Application) prior to the lapsing date. The assessment and ultimate approval of an Extension Application is discretionary and not guaranteed.

Another important thing to be aware of is that the conditions of a DA apply in perpetuity once a development approval has been acted upon. Once given, the DA binds the owner and the occupier of the premises, as well as successive owners because the approval conditions attach to the land and remain binding even after a completion of the development. 

Works being completed and registration of a survey plan is not enough to guarantee there will be no issues arising from the development approval at a later date, which could be costly for a future owner. Buyers need to conduct due diligence to confirm all conditions of the DA have been met and if not, require the seller to complete them before settlement. If these conditions remain outstanding, then the buyer must comply with the conditions in a reasonable timeframe.

Consult Planning can assist in confirming development approvals for any potential property acquisition. For specific advice regarding these matters send us an email to or call us on 1300 017 540.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to provide accurate information, Consult Planning does not guarantee that this blog article is free from errors or omissions or is suitable for your intended use. Requirements and standards frequently change so every individual proposal should be thoroughly investigated.