Minimising construction activity impacts
Work is required to be done in a controlled and orderly manner.
The city undergoes constant change with many buildings being constructed and upgraded. Maintenance of existing buildings can often involve significant building work.
We recognise works and associated activity can have impacts on public spaces and building occupants.
To minimise construction impacts, we expect and require work to be done in a controlled and orderly manner. Works must also comply with various adopted controls, development consent conditions and other approvals.
Who is responsible
Developers, builders, contractors and building certifiers are responsible for ensuring work is carried out in line with approvals.
Safety and protection must be provided, including an acceptable level of public amenity near worksites.
For development and other activities carried out in public spaces, we're responsible for ensuring the work is carried out in line with approvals.
Where necessary, we can take appropriate action to deal with non-compliance and impacts affecting the public.
We encourage developers and builders to maintain good relations and open communication with local residents and businesses during the various stages of work.
In some cases, particularly for large projects, developers or builders may have to develop detailed communication strategies.
This is to ensure communities are kept informed at various stages of a project. Such strategies could include information about:
- special conditions followed to minimise impacts on the surrounding area
- clear information about construction work times
- start and estimated end dates including major construction stages such as demolition, excavation, in-ground and above-ground works
- how construction impacts will be managed including dust, noise and vibration, site remediation works, truck movements and unloading
- how public spaces adjoining the worksite will be cleaned and maintained.
Some activities may be permitted outside approved hours and may include:
- crane delivery and set-up
- hoarding installation/dismantling
- special delivery of large equipment.
This may include transport and delivery of large structural items that can't be done during standard work times due to impacts on traffic and pedestrian movement.
Our approval must be obtained before works commence.
For very large developments a construction liaison committee may be required as a condition of the development consent. Liaison committees will generally comprise people who reside or work close to the development site or any other interested group.
For smaller developments, community newsletters at key project stages may be required. The newsletters should be distributed in letterboxes or by email to interested or registered parties.
Posting regular updates on the website of the company carrying out the development can also be an effective way to keep local residents and businesses informed.
Newsletters and websites must contain contact details of key site personnel to ensure issues can be reported 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The newsletters should also let people know about ongoing communication and how to sign-up for email notifications.
We don't oversee and control all construction activities. To monitor and regulate development activity, there are a number of split roles and responsibilities.
Construction approval and activity including ongoing monitoring and compliance is mainly the responsibility of building certifiers, also known as accredited or principal certifiers.
In the city, the majority of developments are overseen by private accredited certifiers appointed by the developer or property owner. We can act as a principal certifier if appointed.
Primary responsibility for monitoring development and responding to issues or complaints from the public lies with certifiers.
Where impacts affect the public, we'll also respond and act.
There are a number of overlapping areas and responsibilities such as impacts on public spaces that we may also regulate, additional to the role of certifiers.
Where we are responsible for regulating construction works and responding to complaints, several business units have overall responsibility.
Our construction and building certification services unit is responsible for construction-related activities including installation of temporary structures within public spaces, typically on roads and footpaths.
Some other examples include:
- monitoring worksite operations and the maintenance of temporary structures installed within public spaces
- road openings/excavations
- mobile crane hoisting operations on roadways
- site-based cranes and other hoisting devices
Other business units also have certain responsibilities for construction-related activities.
- Construction noise and working outside of approved hours
- Obstruction of footways/roadways
- Illegal parking within works zones
- Pollution incidents such as soil and debris movement offsite and concrete spillage on roadways.
Health and building unit:
- Noise impacts from worksites
- Investigating pollution incidents including excessive dust nuisances
- Non-compliance with development consents.
Infrastructure and traffic operations:
- Reconstruction of footpaths and roads associated with development sites
- Impacts or damage on city infrastructure
- Ground anchoring and stormwater drainage connection approvals
- Street tree protection and pruning
- Relocation of street furniture and light poles
- Traffic changes and works zone approval and control.
- site establishment processes
- understanding relevant regulations that must be followed
- obtaining various approvals that may be required
- understanding important conditions of development consent particularly applying to public spaces.
This service involves onsite meetings with builders and contractors to discuss the proposed works and how to manage public spaces adjoining worksites.
The main purpose of this service is to identify potential issues and offsite impacts. The service ensures:
- builders and contractors are fully aware of our requirements and expectations including relevant development consent conditions
- an orderly and compliant undertaking of work within the constraints and limitations of a site
- works cause the least possible impact on communities and the environment.
Monitoring and investigating complaints
All construction work should be undertaken within the approved hours and days of operation, however we understand that there may be circumstances where work may need to occur outside these times.
Our standard construction hours for all development work are:
Outside the city centre
- 7.30am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday
- 7.30am to 3.30pm on Saturday.
- 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday
- 7am to 5pm on Saturday.
Download a map showing the boundaries of these areas below.
We can only consider works outside approved times under exceptional circumstances.
Any issues in relation to working outside of approved consent times must be reported immediately to us on 02 9265 9738.
No work is allowed on Sundays and public holidays unless it has been specifically approved.
Special approval can also be given to allow work outside of the standard construction days and times, such as to accommodate the needs of government agencies. This could include critical roadworks on high traffic volume streets at night to avoid traffic disruption.
Workers are allowed to be onsite outside of the standard hours immediately before or after approved hours but work must not take place.
Building certifiers are required to ensure works are undertaken within the approved times, however we will often take action in this area to ensure compliance.
Any complaints should be directed to us in the first instance however complaints can also be made to the appointed certifier.
Contact details of the builder and building certifier, including telephone numbers, are required to be displayed in a prominent position on the site, usually on the site fence or hoarding.
When we receive a complaint about work being undertaken outside the approved times, our rangers will undertake an initial investigation. This may include visiting the site and interviewing workers.
Where there are no permits allowing work outside the standard times, the site manager will be directed to stop work and restrict activity to the approved times.
Our construction regulation team will follow-up the issue further including interviewing the site manager to establish the reasons for working outside of approved times.
Builders and contractors can seek approval to work outside of approved construction times however this is only available under special circumstances such as:
- delays in concrete pouring works due to equipment failures
- unforeseen and unavoidable delays with the delivery of material or equipment
- unforeseen circumstances such as concrete batching plant breakdowns, inclement weather
- time restrictions imposed by other government agencies for large vehicle movements of equipment to and from a site.
Construction activity including associated activities such as demolition and excavation is always noisy.
Some noise-related impacts from various work activities will occur, but we expect all reasonable steps will be taken by builders and contractors to reduce noise.
To balance the needs of local residents, businesses and the construction sector, restrictions are placed on the amount of noise that can be made.
This is done through the code of practice (construction hours/noise in the city centre).
The code includes measures to reduce noise and impose time restrictions on noisy demolition, excavation and construction activities.
Ideally, noisy activities and the feasibility to undertake works during approved hours should be considered in the early stages of planning. But there may be special circumstances where there is a need for construction work to take place outside standard hours.
- the delivery of oversized equipment or structural elements to limit road traffic impacts
- movement and set-up of large mobile cranes and installation of site-based cranes
- emergency works
- maintenance, repairs or works on public infrastructure such as utility services or public infrastructure works.
Impacts from dust within the boundaries of a development site or from work activity in public areas such as road openings (excavation) will be investigated initially by the construction regulation team during standard work times.
Dust impacts after hours will be investigated by our rangers, which can be reported by contacting customer service.
Where impacts cannot be resolved satisfactorily and the issue continues, the matter will be referred to our health and building unit for further investigation and action by compliance and environmental health officers.
The environmental impact of sediment run-off from worksites such as mud, sand and soil can be significant if appropriate controls are not in place.
If sediment is not controlled it can enter the stormwater drainage system and impact waterways including Sydney Harbour.
Sediment can also block street stormwater drainage pits increasing the risk of localised flooding.
Builders and contractors are responsible for implementing strategies and measures to prevent soil erosion and sediment moving off building sites. This includes soil and debris being tracked on truck wheels into public areas.
It is an offence to allow any substance other than rainwater to enter a stormwater drainage system. This includes the pumping of rainwater collected in excavations into the stormwater drainage system unless specifically approved by the City of Sydney.
If pollution occurs a builder or contractor is required by law to notify the City of Sydney. This allows for appropriate steps to be taken to minimise any harm to the environment and impacts on the stormwater drainage system.
Where sites are not managed properly to control sediment our construction regulation team will attend to check the controls and where necessary issue directions to the builder to rectify the issues.
Where soil or mud is being tracked offsite by trucks or there is spillage of concrete onto the roadway from pumping operations (where adequate surface protection is not in place), our rangers will investigate and take steps to deal with the problem.
This will include issuing clean-up directions. Fines may also be issued.
Across the city there is an extensive network of utility infrastructure that often requires maintenance, repair and upgrades.
Infrastructure is commonly located in road reservations often beneath busy traffic thoroughfares. When access is required, the road may need to be partially closed.
Works may also need to be undertaken at night or on weekends to minimise impacts on traffic movement and congestion.
In some cases, full road closure and traffic diversions may be needed to provide a safe space for workers and for the work to be done quickly.
We often has little control over works undertaken by utility service providers and their contractors. This also applies to other infrastructure works in public areas.
In many cases, these works do not require any approval from us and we have little ability to impose conditions to manage impacts.
Utility agencies, however, have protocols and guidelines that must be followed to minimise impacts on the local community.
Where a utility agency or contractor does seek approval from the City of Sydney to carry out works on roads (commonly referred to as seeking a road opening permit), we can impose conditions to limit impacts on a local area. This can include restricting times of work and/or requiring noise reduction measures to be in place.
Complaints about these types of works including noise and other impacts should in the first instance be directed to the relevant government agency/utility owner or contractor undertaking the work.
Where it is not possible to identify the nature of work and/or the agency/contractor, you should contact us.
If the work is being undertaken outside of standard work times, our rangers will attend and investigate. Complaints can be lodged by contacting customer service.
Our guidelines for hoardings and scaffolding regulate the design, use and maintenance of these temporary structures when installed in public places.
Issues can be reported for investigation and rectification by contacting the customer service centre or lodging a complaint online.
- the visual condition and tidiness of hoardings (graffiti or bill poster issues)
- inadequate or non-operational lighting systems
- dangerous parts of the structure
- dangerous or uneven footway surfaces.
The design and installation of site security fencing, typically chain-wire fencing on development sites alongside a footpath, are not regulated by the City of Sydney.
Complaints about site security fencing should be directed to the construction regulation team for investigation.
If an issue is about a hoarding, the building certification team should be contacted.
Complaints made after hours will be investigated by our rangers.
If you would like to receive feedback on the outcome of the investigation and action taken, please ask to have this included in the service request.
Where necessary, rangers may refer details of a complaint to the construction regulation team for more detailed follow-up action with the site manager.