Works Approval

The object of the National Capital Plan, which is prepared and administered by the National Capital Authority, is 'to ensure that Canberra and the territory are planned and developed in accordance with their national significance'.
The NCA regulates development in the National Capital through the works approval process

Do I need a Works Approval?

In accordance with the Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988 (Cwth) (the PALM Act) [External Link], the NCA is required to approve all ‘works’ within the Designated Areas. Any alteration to buildings or structures, demolition, landscaping or excavation works in these designated areas require the prior written approval of the NCA or 'Works Approval'. There are no exemptions or qualifications to the requirement for works approval under the legislation.

In summary, if the answer to the following two questions is ‘Yes’:

then works approval from the NCA will be required. 

Applications are lodged using the Works Approval eLodgement System.

The NCA's role is to assist applicants through a process of negotiation and design development to achieve outcomes appropriate to those areas which embody the special characteristics of the national capital. The works approval process is detailed here.

Definition of ‘works’

The PALM Act defines ‘works’ as:

a) the construction, alteration, extension or demolition of buildings or structures;
b) landscaping;
c) tree felling; or
d) excavations;
but excludes anything done inside buildings or structures.

This includes proposals ranging from a site redevelopment to the removal of a single tree or excavation required to install underground services. Temporary ‘works’ such as the installation of temporary signs or fencing also require works approval from the NCA. It is also important to note that the PALM Act does not require the NCA to approve internal works.

Some of the most common types of works that require a Works Approval are:

  • constructing or altering the external of a building
  • removal of a dead or dangerous tree
  • excavation for telecommunications installation
  • installation of a sign

Even minor matters may need a works approval. The onus is on you to find out whether an application is required. If temporary structures are related to an event and are in place for less than 10 days, the NCA’s Events team will facilitate the works approval. 

Please contact the NCA on 02 6271 2888 should you need assistance. 

Designated areas

The National Capital Plan sets out the broad planning framework for all of the Australian Capital Territory, and provides detailed planning policies and guidelines for areas designated as having the special characteristics of the national capital. These are termed the Designated areas. 

The NCA's consideration of such proposals is based on the relevant provisions of the National Capital Plan.

Any alteration to buildings or structures, demolition, landscaping or excavation works in these designated areas require the prior written approval of the NCA or 'Works Approval'. 

If applicable, the applicant may be required to provide evidence of environmental clearance or approvals prior to the NCA granting approval to development proposals.

The NCA's role is to assist applicants through a process of negotiation and design development to achieve outcomes appropriate to those areas which embody the special characteristics of the national capital.

The 'Designated Areas' are shown in the map above and include all major approach routes to Canberra, the Parliamentary Zone, Lake Burley Griffin and Surrounding Parklands, the Australian National University, Russell Defence Precinct, Duntroon and ADFA. The Designated Areas also include the Inner Hills of the National Capital including Mount Majura and Mount Ainslie , Black Mountain, O'Conner Ridge, Red Hill, Oakey Hill, Mount Painter, The Pinnacle and Stromlo Forest.

Download this file (WAeL_Schedule of Fees.pdf)Schedule of Works Approval Fees131 kB
  • Contact us
  • Freedom of Information
  • Disclaimer
  • Accessibility
  • Privacy
  • Copyright

Contact us

Your feedback is always welcome.

  • Would you like to make a comment on projects under consultation?
  • Do you require information not currently available on this site?
  • Were you able to find what you were looking for?
  • Anything else you would like to see?

Send us your comments so we can ensure the site meets your needs.

Send us your comments

Pay Parking

Report a Fault, Ask for a Refund or obtain more information on Parking Infringements.

Pay Parking Enquiries

Agency Plan to Information Publication Scheme

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) extends the right of every person to access information in the possession of the Government of the Commonwealth.

Read More

Disclosure Log

The Disclosure Log lists information which has been released in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) access request.

Read More

Freedom of Information Contact Officer

GPO Box 373, CANBERRA ACT 2601 or email to -


While we make every effort to ensure that the material on this site is accurate and up-to-date when we publish it, you should exercise your own independent skill and judgement before you rely on it. In any important matter, you should seek professional advice relevant to your own circumstances. The listing of a person or organisation in any part of this web site does not imply any form of endorsement by the Australian Government of the products or services provided by that person or organisation. Similarly, links to other web sites have been inserted for your convenience and do not constitute endorsement of material at those sites, or any associated organisation, product or service. Please note that some material on this site includes views or recommendations of third parties, which do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government, or indicate its commitment to particular course of action. The Australian Government cannot verify the accuracy of information that has been provided by third parties.

Standards Compliance

The NCA's website aims to conform to Double A compliance of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2 (WCAG 2.0), developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). As much of this website's content is dynamic or community generated, some content may not always be accessible to the Double A level.

Read More


This website is designed for use in modern web browsers and mobile devices and it is not guaranteed to function correctly in older web browsers.

Read More

Further Accessibility difficulties

The NCA's website is the work of many authors and a dynamic environment. There is always the possibility that accessibility difficulties may be encountered. If you experience any issues please email or call us 6271 2888.


The NCA collects personal information (including sensitive information) from you or your authorised representative when we are handling an application from you, enquiry or complaint from you or taking regulatory action under the Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988.

Read More


© Commonwealth of Australia 2014This work is copyright. You may download, display, print and reproduce this material in unaltered form only (retaining this notice) for your personal, non-commercial use or use within your organisation. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, all other rights are reserved. Requests and inquiries concerning reproduction and rights should be addressed to Commonwealth Copyright Administration, Attorney General's Department, Robert Garran Offices, National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600 or posted on the on the Attorney-General's department website.

Commonwealth Copyright Statement