There has been a bit of press recently about the giant inflatable clowns that have popped up around Penrith and St Marys for The Great Moscow Circus.

While there have been some joking comments about them scaring adults, and some discussion regarding whether they distract road users. what no one seems to be asking is whether the clowns might actually be illegal without a Development Application?


Why would they need a development application?

Generally any addition made to your land, even a temporary addition, needs a DA (development application) from your Local Council unless it is what is known as 'exempt development'.

Even if a development is exempt development it still has to meet certain requirements.  For instance a hill hoist or clothes line is exempt development but only if it is located behind the building line of any road frontage (not your front fence, that is different to the building line) and if your property is heritage listed it must be in the rear yard (so not on the front porch or next to the side driveway).



But this is a temporary structure?

Surely a temporary structure like an inflatable clown doesn't need a DA?  Well actually, it quite possibly does. The fact that something is temporary does not make it exempt, though there are specific exemptions for some temporary structures like mobile food and drink outlets, portable swimming pools and spas, and screen enclosures on decks and shade structures so long as they meet the requirements for that exempt development.  For instance, a portable swimming pool has a number of requirements including that it is constructed in the rear yard and has the required child proof barrier.


What about the inflatable clowns?

We cannot comment on all of the inflatable clowns because we do not have enough information, however here are some of the potential issues with an inflatable clown:


  • If the land is heritage listed then a DA is required
  • If the clown is considered to be a community notice or public information sign, then it must not have a surface area of more than 3.5 metres squared and it must not be more than 5 metres tall or else a DA is required
  • If the clown is considered a temporary event sign then it must not have a surface area of more than 6 metres squared, be taller than 5 metres, or be displayed more than 14 days before the event or else a DA is required

These are just some examples of potential problems.  It is possible that some businesses or charities have attempted to make some money by allowing the Circus to 'rent' advertising space on their property, but then risk paying a larger fine than the fee that they received for the advertising in the first place.



What should I do?

Avoid a large fine, come and speak with Bruce Coode before undertaking anything that might be classified as 'development' on your property.  There is a list of exempt complying developments on the Council's website that you can view by clicking on the blue link but if your development doesn't fit (or you are unsure if it fits) then you should come and speak with Bruce.  He has acted for Councils and against Councils in his forty years practising in Penrith and is experienced in this area.  He will give you a straight forward answer and that answer may be that your development is exempt and there may not be any cost to you.  Don't risk a fine or a complaint by a neighbour, speak to Bruce Coode before building or adding to your property.



More information

If you would like more information about our firm, or local council, then click on the blue button to the left to read some more of our articles on this topic.