Home improvements and building

Image of man using a saw


Property owners are responsible for constructing and maintaining their driveways, including any modifications to the kerb or gutter.

Driveway approval

You need approval from Council if you are installing a driveway that runs across a footway (from the kerb to your boundary). You need to submit a Vehicle Access (Driveway) Application to do this.

Council will then check that the driveway is safe for vehicles and pedestrians, doesn't conflict with existing infrastructure such as signs, poles and street trees, and manages stormwater.

The application will usually be processed within 14-21 working days.

Application fees

Driveway application
Additional pre-pour inspection
Apply for Driveway approval

Driveway requirements

  • Location
    Consider possible obstructions such as street corners, bus stops and guard rails
  • Site constraints
    Identify obstacles such as traffic medians, drainage structures, or light poles
  • Public utilities
    Locate utilities such as gas, water telecoms and electricity and obtain ‘dial before you dig’ plans
  • Current conditions
    Document the site conditions with captioned photos.
  • Standards
    Use a licensed contractor to help interpret drawings and provide practical advice. Council’s engineering standard drawings can be found in the Application for Vehicle Access Crossing
  • Materials
    All kerb and gutters should be plain concrete. You cannot remove or paint the existing kerb and gutter to match your driveway
  • Levels
    Demonstrate how vehicles can safely use the gradient of the driveway.

Compliance rules

  • The width of residential driveways must be a minimum of 2.7m and a maxiumum of 6m.
  • The width of commercial driveways is usually at 10m, but can be increased with Council approval.
  • The longitudinal gradient of the driveway must not exceed 4% across the footway for 3.2m.


Most boundary fences can be built without Council approval as long as the lot is not restricted by flood or heritage controls.

Side and rear fences

  • Side and rear fences can be a maximum of 1800mm in height provided it does not extend past the front of the building line. Side fences that extend past this line are restricted to a maximum height of 1200mm
  • Brick and similar masonry fences are restricted to a maximum height of 1200mm without needing Council approval.

Front fences

  • Without needing Council approval, front fences can be a maximum height of 1200mm and are required to be open style eg. pickets, slats or wire mesh.

Corner lot properties

  • The front face that runs parallel to the secondary street may be up to 1800mm high for only 50% of the total fence. The remainder must be an open style fence up to 1200mm in height.

Shared fences with neighbours

View a fences information diagram

Retaining walls

Retaining walls do not need Council approval if they are:

  • Less than 600mm from natural ground level, and
  • Over one (1) metre of a property boundary.

When lodging an application, if your retaining wall is proposed to be located close to a property boundary, you must make sure that:

  • Drainage pipes, footings and backfill are located entirely within the property, and
  • Walls don’t exceed 900mm if retaining cut, or 600mm if retaining fill

Retaining walls over 1000mm high when measured from natural ground level require an engineer's certification with application.

View a retaining walls information diagram

Residential trees

Trees on private land

A development application is required if you are looking to remove or prune a tree in an urban area that:

  • Stands over three (3) metres in height
  • Has a branch spread of three (3) metres, or
  • Has a trunk diameter of 100mm at chest height.

Please note, Council cannot approve the removal or pruning of trees on a neighbour’s property. To remove of trees or clear vegetation on land within RU1 Primary Production or RU2 Rural Landscape zones, you must seek approval from Local Land Services (Hunter).

Trees on Council land

If you wish to request for pruning or removal of trees on Council land, please complete a Report It request for Tree Maintenance.

Any further information relating to trees on Council owned land can be obtained by contacting Council's Customer Experience Team on 02 4934 9700.

Swimming pools


Every pool and spa that can hold 2,000 litres of water and, is more than 300mm deep, requires approval to be constructed and installed.

If you are unsure whether your proposal needs approval, you can speak to Council’s Duty Building Surveyor on 02 4934 9700.

Compliance rules


All pools and spas need to be registered on the NSW Swimming Pool Register. Penalties apply for pool owners who have not registered their pool.


Every swimming pool, including blow up pools, need a child resistant barrier that complies with the Swimming Pools Act 1992. The NSW Government has developed a pool inspection self-assessment checklist to help you understand your particular barrier requirements.


Swimming pools inspections are required:

  • At least once every three years for any property providing tourist or visitor accommodation, or more than two dwellings
  • Where a property owner makes an application for an inspection.
  • Where a property containing a swimming pool is being sold or leased (leased properties must reapply for a Certificate of Compliance every three years)
  • Where Council has received a complaint about a swimming pool barrier.

You can book an inspection by completing the Swimming Pool/Spa Barrier Certificate of Compliance form.

Selling, renting or leasing a property with a pool or spa

If you are trying to sell your property with a pool, or you are about to rent or lease, you must make sure you or the owner of the property have:

When selling, vendors are able to transfer the responsibility of collecting a certificate of compliance to the purchaser. Transfer takes place as an attachment of a certificate of non-compliance as part of the contract for sale.


Asbestos can be extremely dangerous to your health, so you must remove it the right way when renovating.

If you’ve found asbestos, we recommend you hire a qualified asbestos removalist. However, you can remove non-friable asbestos yourself if there’s less than 10sqm if in accordance with work safe requirements. Asbestos must be disposed of in an approved waste facility such as the Maitland Resource Recovery Facility.

View guide to safely dispose of asbestos

Water tanks and sewage

Water tank installation

If you live in a ‘R1 General Residential zone’ or ‘RU’ land zone, you can install a water tank of up to 10,000 litres without Council approval as long as you comply with the NSW exempt development code. You can check what your land zone is with the NSW Planning Viewer.

If you don’t meet this criteria, you must apply for a complying development certificate or development application via the Planning Portal.

Rules for installation

If you are looking to install a water tank, you must:

  • Build an adequate supporting base that can support the weight of a considerable amount of water. This will also ensure the tank does not lean, topple or cause damage to drainage pipes
  • Ensure the tank does not obstruct access for building and fence maintenance or inspections
  • Dispose of overflow in an approved manner so there is no flooding to adjoining properties. In most cases this will mean connecting the overflow into an approved stormwater system for disposal to the street gutter or to a drainage easement.

Sewage management

There are a number of areas in Maitland where a direct connection to Hunter Water reticulated sewer system is not available meaning that wastewater must be managed on site.

Wastewater treatment systems installed include:

  • Septic tanks with evapotranspiration beds or absorption trenches
  • Aerated wastewater treatment systems (AWTS)
  • Effluent pump out system
  • Composting systems (worm farms)
  • Pump to sewer systems.

Rules for installation

Rules for operation

  • Every system on site requires approval from Council.
  • You must complete an Application to Operate a Sewage Management Facility and pass an inspection to be approved. In most cases, these approvals last for two (2) to five (5) years.
  • If your approval has expired, you can complete an Application for Septic ATO Renewal Inspection.

When we conduct inspections, we consider risk based factors to do with the location, system type, and compliance history of the system.

Building in bushfire prone areas

Many applications for developments in bushfire prone areas require a bushfire assessment. From this assessment, bushfire construction measures may be required.

Factors that may determine your bushfire level include:

  • The proximity of the property to significant vegetation
  • The type of vegetation
  • The slope of the land.

You can check if your residence is in bushfire prone land via the Rural Fire Service’s mapping tool.


Easements are an area of land with a specific use, often for services such as stormwater drainage or power lines. Each easement has restrictions made by Council, a developer, or a utility provider.

For any questions about easements, please get in touch with the Duty Planner on 02 4934 9700.

See Also
Development applications
Work applications on Council land and roads