Building, planning and development

The ACT Ombudsman can investigate complaints about the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate (EPSDD), including the Planning and Land Authority (PLA).

This includes complaints about:

  • the decision made on a development application or on a building development application
  • consultation with neighbours or other affected parties about development applications
  • amendments made to development applications
  • management of a complaint about a development application outcome.

Access Canberra has a role in regulating building construction in the ACT, including investigating claims that a development has not been constructed in accordance with the development approval provided by the PLA or relevant ACT legislation. Complaints about Access Canberra can also be investigated by the ACT Ombudsman.

This can include complaints about:

  • management of a complaint about construction of a development inconsistent with the relevant development approval
  • failure to provide reasons for decisions or to consider evidence provided by the complainant.

What we cannot help you with

The ACT Ombudsman is unable to:

  • overturn a decision that a development application is granted or denied
  • overturn a decision that a land lease condition has been breached or has not been breached
  • investigate a matter that has been considered by a Minister, or has been before a court or tribunal.

If we decide to not investigate your complaint, we will explain the reasons why.

See Who else can help for a detailed list of other complaint handling agencies.

Before you make a complaint to the Ombudsman

Before making a complaint to the Ombudsman, we ask you to try and resolve the issue with EPSDD,
by making a complaint via Access Canberra. If your complaint has not been acknowledged within two working days or you have not received a response within twenty working days, you can follow up with Access Canberra or directly with EPSDD.

You should also consider whether you have any options for seeking reconsideration of a development decision by EPSDD, or whether you have a right to appeal the decision to the ACT Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal (ACAT). You should be advised about any appeal pathways in your notice of decision by EPSDD. Alternatively, more information is available here.

How to lodge your complaint

The Gateway team within EPSDD is the first point of contact for all enquiries and complaints about ACT planning matters and the development application process. You can contact them via their online form or by phone on (02) 6205 2888.

If you are seeking to make a complaint about how an approved development has been implemented (for example, you wish to report that a development in your suburb was not built in accordance with the approved plans), you should contact Access Canberra as explained here. Access Canberra can be contacted:

If your enquiry or complaint is not able to be resolved by the Gateway team, you may lodge a formal complaint with EPSDD. Complaints about the conduct, processes or actions of EPSDD staff who manage development assessments, environmental impact assessments, the leasehold system, deeds, or land surveying and mapping can be submitted via email to or by calling 02 6205 2888.

Your complaint will be handled in accordance with EPSDD’s Complaints Policy: Planning Delivery Division Complaints Policy

How to complain to the ACT Ombudsman

If you have been unhappy with the handling or the outcomes of your complaint by EPSDD or Access Canberra, you can make a complaint to the ACT Ombudsman.

You can make a complaint via our online complaint form or by calling us on 02 5119 5518 (select option 1).

When writing your complaint keep it simple and stick to the facts. Be as specific as possible about dates, names and other important details. Make sure you include:

  • a description of your issue, incident or decision
  • dates of events
  • contact with EPSDD and Access Canberra
  • who was involved, including witnesses
  • details of phone conversations and meetings
  • reference numbers you received when dealing with EPSSD and Access Canberra
  • evidence such as photographs or plans
  • steps you have taken to sort out the problem
  • the outcome you would like to see as a result of your complaint.

An overview of what we do with your complaint is available here.

How to get help with making a complaint

If you need support to make a complaint please call us on 02 5119 5518. We will do our best to help you.

You can call us on our dedicated Indigenous number 1800 060 789 or use our Indigenous language interpreter service.

If you are a non-English speaking person, we can help through the Translating and Interpreter Service (TIS) on 131 450. You can visit our brochures page for information in many community languages.

If you are hearing or speech impaired, please use the National Relay Service:

  • the speak and listen number is 1300 555 727.
  • for TTY call 133677