Plan your business

Opening a new business is likely to require consent for day-to-day operations. In order to assist new business with navigating the process for approval Council has put together the below guide. The following overview of the sections will help you navigate this page and understand what will apply to your situation and where you should go from here:

Step 1: Is there a current consent?

If you are moving into a premises previously used as a business, check if there is a current consent for the last use. If the site is brand new, skip to Step 2 to check if your desired use is permissible in the zoning.

Step 2: Is the use permissible?

This step helps you understand what uses are allowed within the land zoning of the site. If your desired use isn’t permissible within a particular zone, then you can use this step to help find which zone you can open your desired business in.

Step 3: What approvals are required?

If your use is permissible, then you can use this section to understand what approval pathway you can use. Your use may be exempt (no approvals required), or it may require formal approval / consent.

Additional information: Common uses

This part contains information for the following common uses which have slightly different approval pathways and permits required which should be checked before use. These uses include:

  • Food premises
  • Skin penetration premises
  • Home based businesses
  • Small bars

For further assistance please contact Council's Duty Planning Service on 9392 5000.

Is there a current consent?

Council consent is required for many forms of business uses, development consent may be obtained through a Development Application (DA) or a Complying Development Certificate (CDC).

Many sites within the Inner West LGA have current consent for business uses. If a current consent exists for your proposed use, you may not require additional approvals to operate your business.

Approved Development Applications (DAs) and related applications, including Modification Applications (MODs) and Review Applications (REVs), can be viewed and tracked online via Council's Portal.

Please view our Track applications page and follow the guide to track and view DAs and access relevant documents at your relevant site.

Track applications

How to access further information

If you are unable to find the information you are looking for in our online portal, you may need to submit an access to information request.

Please note, you must be the property owner/s, or have the owner's written consent to access certain information.

Request access to information

Is the use permissible?

If there is no current consent for the subject site you wish to operate from, then you will need to determine if approval is required. The first step in determining if approval is required is to determine the proposed land use.

Land uses are definitions given to various development types and are contained within a Local Environmental Plan (LEP).

Common business land uses include:

  • Business premises,
  • Commercial premises,
  • Shops, Retail premises,
  • Artisan food and drink industry,
  • Food and drink premises,
  • Small bar,
  • Restaurant or café,
  • Industry, Light Industry,
  • Office premises,
  • Vehicle repair station.

Land use definitions can be found in the dictionary of Inner West LEP 2022.

Once you have established the proposed land use, you must then check the sites zoning. This information may be obtained via the NSW Government Planning Portal or by obtaining a Section 10.7 planning certificate from Council.

NSW Government Planning Portal Spatial Viewer

After confirming the land use and zoning, you need to find out which developments are permissible and which are prohibited in that zone. This information is found in the Inner West Local Environmental Plan (LEP) 2022 Land Use Table.

IWLEP 2022 Land Use Table

What approval is required?

If the previous use of the premises in which you intend to conduct business from was approved as a similar use to what you intend to use it for, you may be able to use the premises without requiring a new consent. However, you will need to comply with any conditions of consent that apply to the previously approved use. This includes conditions relating to hours of operation, parking, traffic generation, landscaping, or waste management.

If you intend to do any building alterations, approval will be required as explained below.

Exempt development – business change of use which don’t need formal consent

The State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (Codes SEPP) allows certain uses to be changed as exempt development, meaning no formal consent is required. 

For further clarification, please refer to clause 2.20 of the Codes SEPP. It is important to identify your business use as defined in the dictionary of the legislation, as some restrictions apply to certain uses.

If your use is exempt, keep a printed copy of the exempt codes which apply to your business on the premises as proof the use is permissible.

If your change of use also involves building alterations (other than those which are exempt under the Codes SEPP) or will increase the gross floor area of the building, it will require formal consent.

Common exceptions to exempt uses:

If your business is any of the following, you will need to obtain formal approval through a complying development certificate (CDC) or Development Application (DA): 

  • Café
  • Take-away food shop
  • Restaurant
  • Beauty salon
  • Hair dressing salon
  • Business which involves skin penetration procedures
  • Restricted premises
First use

If a site/shop is brand new (not previously occupied), and the approval of the building did not include a specific use of the premises, you will need to obtain either a Complying Development Certificate (CDC) or development consent through a development application to use it for any purpose. 

Obtaining formal approval

Complying Development Certificate (CDC)

Approval by a CDC may be given if the proposal meets the complying development standards within Part 5A Industrial and Business Building Code of the Codes SEPP. Ensure to check the zoning and permissibility of the use in the zone and check the Codes to determine whether the change of use proposal can be done as complying development. 

A Certifier is required to issue a CDC for the change of use. For more information about CDCs, you can contact Council's Building Certification Team.

If your change of use or alteration does not meet the development standards under a CDC, then development consent is required through a Development Application (DA) with Council.

Development Application

Development applications are assessed by Council officers and consent will only be given if the proposal meets the relevant planning controls as given under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. Your application will require certain forms, documents and plans containing information which will support your application.

You will also need consent of the owner of the property and/or strata body to lodge your application. For further information, see our page on the development application process.

Common uses

Food premises

Cafes, restaurants and similar food retail outlets need to notify Council of their business and food activity details which is done via applications for services, permits and approvals. The following forms which may apply to your business are available on our forms page:

  • Health Premises Registration Form
  • Outdoor dining and footpath trading licence application form
  • Market Stall Application Form

If opening your business involves a change-of-use, changes to any conditions of consent or details in the plan of management, or any building alterations, you will need formal consent before completing any works and trading. See above on this page to understand if you need approval and what the process involves.

Information regarding NSW standards and regulations for cafes, restaurants and retail outlets are available at the NSW Government Food Authority.

There are several factors you need to consider in setting up and operating a food premises:

  • Providing adequate space for food storage and food preparation
  • Separate hand washing facilities must be located within five metres of where food is handled
  • Walls must be of solid construction (ie stud walls are not permitted)
  • Service pipes and conduits must be concealed within floors, plinths, walls or ceilings or 25 mm from walls and 100 mm from floors and ceilings
  • All waste must be stored in a designated waste storage area

Further controls can be found in the Australian Standard AS 4674 – 2004 (Design, construction and fit-out of food premises).

Skin penetration uses

The Public Health Act 2010 and Public Health Regulation 2012 includes the following procedures as skin penetration procedure:

  • Acupuncture
  • Certain beauty treatments
  • Body, nose and ear piercing
  • Cosmetic enhancements
  • Hair removal which opens a skin pore
  • Colonic lavage
  • Tattooing
  • Blood cholesterol and glucose measurement
  • Any other procedure that involves deliberate penetration of the mucous membrane

The legislation regulates these activities in order to prevent the spread of diseases, to ensure operators are registered with local Council, and to giver power to officers to carry out inspections.

Skin penetration businesses are required to meet certain design and construction standards.

You are required to notify Council of your skin penetration business using the Notification of Skin Penetration Procedures Premises form and Health Premises Registration Form.  

Further resources and information regarding skin penetration businesses are available on the NSW Health Skin Penetration Resources page.

Home based businesses

Generally, you can run a home business as exempt development provided your operations won’t impact the amenity of neighbours, and you must comply with the relevant standards in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008. To comply with the code, your development must not:

  • Employ more than 2 people
  • Involve the change of use of a building (more than 10% of the floor area for a different use)
  • Exceed the maximum floor area requirements (50sqm)
  • Interfere with neighbour's amenity (like cooking smells, fumes, smoke, vapour, dust, soot, steam, ash, noise, vibration, wastewater, waste products, grit, oil or traffic generation)
  • Expose an unsightly matter within view of adjacent properties
  • Include signage other than a business sign
  • Offer goods for sale not produced in your home business
  • Included bed and breakfast accommodation, home occupation (sex services) or sex services premises
  • Involve the manufacture of food products
  • Involve Skin penetration procedures

Home businesses which involve the manufacture of food or a bed and breakfast accommodation, can seek approval via a fast-track CDC which can be done by Councils Building Certification Team or a private certifier.

If your business doesn’t meet the criteria of an exempt or complying development, you may require Development Consent from Council. Development approval is required if your business is a family day care facility or provides swimming lessons in a home pool.

Small bars

We have made it easier to open a small bar in the Inner West in the Inner West LEP 2022. This allows for existing restaurants and cafes to change to a small bar by obtaining a Complying Development Certificate (CDC) which can be issued by either a Private Certifier or Inner West Council Building Certifiers.

The criteria to qualify for this include:

  • The premises must be in the E1 (local Centre) or E2 (Commercial centre) Zone.
  • The existing use must be a restaurant or café going to a small bar, or vice versa
  • The new use must operate as per the existing consent regarding hours of operation, noise, car parking, loading, vehicular movement, traffic generation, waste management, and landscaping.

To find out the zoning of your property visit the NSW Planning Portal.

A copy of a development consent that relates to the property may be available on Council's DA Tracking page. If a copy is not available on the page, then you may wish to lodge a request for information through Council via an Access to Information request.

If a change to any of the above listed conditions in the existing plan of management are required, a Development Application will be required.

Useful links and information

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Page last updated: 24 Oct 2023