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Buying and selling local property - how do I find out more information?

The following information is provided to assist you in making a decision about buying land in Shoalhaven. The information does not constitute legal advice. In making a decision to buy land, you should seek and be guided by independent legal and professional advice.

Why should I check the title of the land?

By looking at the title, you can find out if there are restrictions, easements or covenants over the land and what effect they have. 

How can I access other information on the land including whether I can build a house on it?

It’s important to find out about planning controls, hazards, outstanding notices or orders that may affect the land. You can get this information from Council.

Have a look at Council’s zoning maps either online or at Council’s Administration Building.  Council’s Local Environmental Plan (LEP) 1985 will give you information on the zoning of land and what activities are permissible or prohibited within that zone.

There are some parcels of land in Shoalhaven on which you are not able to build a house.  For information on dwelling entitlements, how the land may be used and any restrictions on its development, ask Council for a Section 149 certificate parts (2) and (5) (which costs $133.00)

What is a Section 149 Certificate?

A Section 149 Planning Certificate is a certificate issued by Council under the provisions of Section 149 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. The certificate provides information on how the land may be used and restrictions on its development. There are two parts to the Section 149 Certificate - a part (2) (at a cost of $53.00) and a part (5) (at a cost of $80.00).  A 149(2) Certificate provides limited information. This must be attached to a contract for the sale of the land.  A 149(5) Certificate provides a broader range of information relevant to the land including whether a dwelling can be constructed on the land. Application forms for a S149 Certificate can be accessed at Council’s Services Counter or at:

For further information please refer to the s149 certificate page on Councils site.

What Council planning documents should I consult if I’m considering buying land in Shoalhaven?

Can the land be subdivided?

Not all land can be subdivided.  Council’s LEP 1985, DCP’s and policies set down minimum lot sizes and other requirements for subdivision. Speak to Council’s Subdivisions Unit on (02) 4429 3230 for further information before applying for a subdivision.  

What is dual occupancy? Is it an option?

Dual occupancy provides opportunities to develop two dwellings on one lot. This may be converting an existing dwelling into two; additions to an existing dwelling or two detached dwellings.  Depending on the zone of your land, there will be provisions regarding dual occupancy.   Documents you may need to refer to include:

Can I clear a block of land?

Trees are vital for scenic amenity and to reduce the impact of urban features. Trees assist to minimise soil erosion, maintain slope stability, reduce air pollution and provide shade and shelter for humans and wildlife.

Clearing on land within Shoalhaven may require approval via a development applications (DA) under the Tree Preservation Order 2004 or Shoalhaven LEP.  It is important to find out whether approval is required as illegal clearing may result in fines.
Some species of tree are protected under State & Federal legislation. You may need separate approval from one of the following government agencies for clearing:
  • Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority
  • Department of Environment, Climate Change & Water
  • Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts
Fact sheets detailing the legislative requirements for land clearing can be accessed online via NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (new window).

Contact the Development and Environmental Services Group of Council on (02) 4429 3212 for more information.  

Do I need to consider threatened species?

There are over 140 threatened species of plants and animals in Shoalhaven.  If your land has vegetation (including native grasses, shrubs, trees) or is next to an area of native bush, it’s likely there are threatened species living in or using the area. 

Part of the DA process may require you to show how your activities may impact on plants and animals.  This will occur through a Flora and Fauna Assessment (a requirement of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995). To find out whether your application requires a study call Council’s Threatened Species Officer on (02) 4429 3209.

The following approaches can reduce the impacts when designing or building your house: 

  • Identify areas of native vegetation that can be protected;
  • Plan your house so that trees can safely be retained;
  • Collect seed, cuttings, leaf litter, or logs from areas to be cleared and use in your garden; and
  • Design an animal friendly garden  

For further information on whether a development application requires a Flora and Fauna Assessment, please access the following link:


Are there any future infrastructure / development plans for the area?

To find out you can start initially by accessing the Nowra Bomaderry Structure Plan, Sussex Inlet Settlement Strategy, Milton-Ulladulla Structure Plan and the Jervis Bay Settlement Strategy via Council’s website. 

Further information can be found by contacting Strategic Planning on (02) 4429 3426

Is my land flood prone?

To find out if land is flood prone or is subject to ‘flood related development controls’ look at the various flood studies and flood related policies and plans or obtain a flood certificate view Council’s website at flood risk in the Shoalhaven. To make an enquiry or obtain further information contact Council’s Floodplain and Stormwater Quality Officer (02) 4429 3392. 

Is my land bushfire prone?

Many parts of the Shoalhaven are Bushfire Prone. View these areas on Council’s online maps.   Some development on bush fire prone land will have extra requirements. Contact Council’s Development & Environmental Section group on (02) 4429 3212 or the NSW Rural Fire Service (new window) for more information.

Is my land affected by coastal hazards?

Some land may be affected by coastal hazards. You can get more information about coastal hazards in Shoalhaven by accessing the website Planning For The Future Of The Shoalhaven City Coastline (new window) or contacting the Strategy Planning and Infrastructure Group on (02) 4429 3392.

Will I be charged rates?

Most land in the Shoalhaven is subject to rates. The rates account is sent quarterly. You can get more information about rates by calling (02) 4429 3210.

Will I be charged water and sewer charges ?

If the land is connected or is capable of being connected to water and/or sewer services, a quarterly account will be sent out from Shoalhaven Water separate from your rates notice. It is made up of availability charges (the cost of providing and maintaining the infrastructure to supply water and remove wastewater) and usage charges (the actual amount of water used). If the land is not connected, only the availability charges will apply.  More information can be obtained from any Council Office or by calling (02) 4429 3214.
Available brochure
Further information
Further information on s149 certificates