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The Development Act 1993, defines a 'change in use' constitutes 'development' and requires Development Approval. 

Section 6 of the Development Act 1993 deals with the 'Concept of change in the use of land' and explains that a change of land use occurs when that use:
  • supersedes a previous use of the land

  • represents a commencement or revival of a use following a period of non-use or

  • is additional to the existing established use of the land which continues despite the new use.

A Development Application will be required to be lodged seeking approval for a change in land and/or building use and will need to satisfy the zoning and relevant assessment criteria that are detailed in the Development Plan.

It is important that before entering into any arrangement/agreement to purchase a property or business, change the current use of the land or the purpose of the building; or commence the activity/business, you consult with Council Development Services staff to clarify whether Development Approval will be needed.

When Does a Change of Use Occur?

A Change of Use occurs when there is a change or partial change to the use of land and/or building:

  • grazing to horticulture

  • commercial to retail

  • light industrial to industrial

This may affect you if you are establishing a new business, moving from one premise to another or if a particular use of land has been discontinued for a period of two years or more.

Often, determining whether a Change of Use has occurred or not, is not a straightforward matter.


  • Existing building is proposed to be converted to an office or to flats

  • A domestic outbuilding is to be used for commercial storage

  • A shop is going to be used to manufacture a product, as it then becomes industrial use

  • Professional office space is changed into retail shop premises

  • If you have different staff and customer parking requirements to the previous business

  • The number or the size/location of signs on a site is to be altered.

On occasions, the differentiation is more subtle and less obvious, particularly when changing from one form of commercial or retail activity to another is involved.


  • replacing a butcher shop with a newsagency would not change the primary use of the land, as both are classed as a shop, but a change in the intensity of use such as a butcher shop being converted to a restaurant will be classed as a change of use for which Development Approval is needed.

Provisional building rules consent may also be required as a change in use may constitute a change in building classification i.e., requiring various internal modifications or considerations, for example such as provisions for fire extinguishers.

Land Use - Rural

Change of Use also applies to rural land uses.  Primary production covers a diverse range of farming activities and cropping and of animal husbandry, and the mix of these can change periodically to reflect growing cycles, the markets, and the climate. Such a dynamic state of variation does not fit neatly into a planning system based on a concept of a clearly defined ‘static’ land use. Generally, most of these activities or operations remain within the overall ‘generic’ primary production use of the land. But the planning system does deal with some changes of agricultural use.

Further Information

Further information can be found:

To obtain further information or to discuss your specific circumstances, please contact our office ph (08) 8828 1200 option 3.