Council Approval for Shades & Canopies

If you want to install a shade sail or framed canopy, it is important to plan ahead and consider council approval early on. 


Why do I need council approval for my Shade?

In Australia all councils impose a set of requirements described in our Building Codes (South Australias Development act of 1993). You can view these rules here. Please note that these requirements must be followed when constructing new outdoor shade structures. For your convenience we have outlined these rules below. By following these guidelines you will save time and money, and it will also help the process go smoothly. Plus you wont have to take your shade down, if you end up with grumpy neighbors.

Note: It is recommended that you check the rules with your local council first, as these rules vary from council to council, and are subject to change.

How can I avoid having to go through Council?

If you put up a shade which is less than 20m​2 in area, and made of a permeable fabric (i.e. 95% shadecloth or mesh fabric) then you may not have to go through council at all!


Fast Track Council Applications

or avoid them all-together, following these guidelines...

‘Exempt Development’

Shade Sail - No assessment or approval is required if:

  • Sail consists of permeable material (lets water pass through)
  • Sail no greater than 20m​2 in area
  • No higher than 3m above ground or floor level
  • No closer to the primary street frontage than the existing building



'Non-compliant Development' (zones/areas which are excluded)

  • State Heritage Areas
  • Local Heritage Places
  • Historic (Conservation) Zones or Policy Areas
  • Historic Township Zones


If your Sail falls within these guidelines then you don't need council approval. Simply get your Shade manufactured and you can put it up whenever you want!


What if my design is non-compliant ?

If your proposed development does not comply with the above exemption criteria, you will need to lodge a development approval.

Therefore, if your shade is larger than 20m2​ in area, taller than 3m in height, or you want to use 100% waterproof material (impermeable), then you will most likely need to submit a council application. This will involve a fair bit of extra planing and management (which is why it is recommended that you try and avoid development approval). If you can, it is suggested that you talk with your local council representative first, to confirm what design is possible in your area. Most councils are very helpful so there still might be some chance that you can install your chosen Shade!

Options - Change your design or submit to Council...

Once you have confirmed that your chosen design isn't exempt from council, you have two options:

Option 1) Change your design

By re-designing the proposed shade you can make it fit within council rules. This is often the best solution if you can compromise on shade size and layout.

Option 2) Go through Council

Yes it is unfortunate but if you are set on a design which is non-exempt, then you will need to submit an Application to Council. This can take a couple months and will cost you a bit of money too. 


What steps are involved with council approval?

For shades, sailcloths, and outdoor awnings, you will need to submit a 'Development Application'. This is otherwise known as Building Consent.

Development Assessment (Development plan consent or Building rules consent) are needed.

You can find the details of a Development Application, when visiting your local council's website.​ They are also outlined below.

Note: The following steps are only 'typical' and can vary from council to council.


1) Lodge your Development Application 

You will need to submit the Development Application Form, plus any other documents your Council requests.

2) Drawings

You will need three drawings for your development - a Site Plan, Plan Layout, and Elevation. These should be to scale and include all details asked for by council.

3) Engineering

You can use Shadeform's standard engineering to save on engineering costs, but typically your council will ask for certification of the designed shade.

4) Other information needed

  • Current copy Certificate of Title (issued within the last 12 months)
  • Power Declaration From
  • Copy of Indemnity Insurance Certificate Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) Levy (payed in full including receipt)
  • General specifications of construction & manufacturers details


Get help from Shadeform

If you need to go to council Shadeform can offer a complete solution from start to finish. Shadeform's refined approval process gives us the confidence to get your structure through quickly and without hassle. 


How much does council approval cost?

The estimated cost for council approval is $1000, for a standard shade or sailcloth. This is the standard cost that Shadeform charge for most jobs, if you leave it all to us. It will be a couple hundred dollars less if you lodge the application and fees yourself. But remember you will still need engineering and drawings of the proposed Shade, and liaise with council yourself.

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Contact Shadeform now for your free quote!