Reporting Unlawful Development

Building approvals and compliance

'Unlawful development' is any development that takes place without the necessary Development Permit, or any development that does not comply with the conditions or the approved plans of an existing Development Permit.

People are sometimes unaware that their activities are causing a nuisance or that work performed on site may require planning and building permits. Western Downs Regional Council encourages all residents and business operators to firstly, discuss any nuisance problems with their neighbours and only make a complaint if the issue remains unresolved. 

Contact Council if you are aware of any unlawful development that has taken place and wish to report it. Additionally, our Compliance Team is available to support developers and/or landowners in ensuring their development complies with the provisions of their Permit.

Lodging a complaint with Council's Compliance Team

You can lodge a complaint regarding unlawful development and unlawful building work with Council's Compliance Team.

Complaints can be lodged either online via Council's Feedback Form, via email or by phone on (07) 4679 4000 or 1300 COUNCIL (1300 268 624).

The following information will be required to ensure Officers have an understanding of the concerns and impacts of the activity so that a thorough investigation can be undertaken:

  • Your name, address and phone number (this information is kept confidential);
  • Nature of the complaint/advice (the date, time and source address);
  • Duration and frequency of the nuisance issue;
  • Impact on you, your property and/or the environment; and
  • Evidence of the issue (for example, photographs or diary entries) to substantiate the complaint.

How does Council action complaints?

Once a complaint is received, Council's Compliance Team will contact the person who raised it to discuss the issue and ensure that Council has a full understanding.

Actions by Council

Once a complaint has been lodged, depending on the nature and severity of the complaint, Council may take one or more of the following actions:

  • A Compliance Officer will inspect the premises;
  • Issue a warning;
  • Issue the offender a compliance notice explaining how to remedy the offence;
  • Issue a penalty infringement should the offender fail to comply with an issued notice;
  • Conduct any works required, at the ratepayer's expense; or
  • Take any necessary further enforcement action (e.g. court proceedings).


Council often receives complaints from the public regarding stormwater discharged from adjoining properties especially during periods of heavy rainfall.    

Stormwater is rainwater that runs off surfaces such as lawns, roads, roofs, car parks and natural ground surfaces.  Water that is unable to enter the underground drainage system will find its natural way to the nearest watercourse via stormwater overland flow paths. These are usually roadways, public reserves, pathways and often flow through private property.

Where a property has a stormwater installation such as roof gutters, downpipes, subsoil drains and stormwater drainage for the premises, Council may direct the property owner to connect to Council’s stormwater drainage system, if available and practical to do so.

All landowners must ensure that the approved stormwater system on the property is suitably maintained and complies with Council’s requirements.  It is also the responsibility of property owners to ensure that any easement for stormwater on the land is kept clear of debris to allow for the natural flow of stormwater, and to accept natural stormwater overland flow from neighbouring properties or public land.

For the discharge of stormwater from a property or to a development to be lawful, it must comply with all laws (Federal, State, Local and Common law) current at the time and should not cause any actionable nuisance to others.

The 'lawful point of discharge' is a term used to describe a location where stormwater can be released that is under the lawful control of Council or another statutory authority (for example, the Department of Transport and Main Roads).

The regulatory authority will determine the lawful point of discharge in accordance with the criteria described in the Queensland Urban Drainage Manual (QUDM) current at the time.  In some instances, a drainage easement or a written discharge approval from downstream property owners will be required to allow the proposed method to discharge stormwater from a property.

To learn more about stormwater management, please view the factsheet here.