The Niagara Escarpment Plan (NEP) protects the Escarpment’s unique ecological, historic and scenic qualities. To ensure that the Escarpment’s natural resources, ecosystem health and scenic landscape are protected, Niagara Escarpment landowners are required to obtain a development permit for certain types of development within the Area of Development Control in Regulation 826.

Please note that the NEC is receiving an unprecedented number of applications and property inquiries, and as a result, our response times are delayed. We ask for your patience during this busy time. We will respond to requests in the order in which they are received.

A Niagara Escarpment Development Permit is similar to a municipal building permit. The difference is that a Niagara Escarpment Development Permit considers the impact of a development proposal on the Escarpment landscape and natural environment. The objective is to design and situate development in an environmentally compatible way.

Note: Municipal building approvals and other permits may also be required but those can only be issued after the Development Permit.

Applications for Development Permits can include:

  • proposals for new single dwellings or additions/renovations to them
  • infrastructure including roads and pipelines
  • quarries
  • sand and gravel pits
  • lot creation
  • agriculture including on-farm diversified uses and agriculture-related uses and the establishment of wineries
  • irrigation or recreational ponds
  • altering the grade of land including the importation of excess soil
  • changes in the use of any land, building or structure
  • special events including any associated temporary signs, parking areas, buildings or structures

Minor alterations to a property or structure may not require a Permit (For a list of possible exemptions, please see section  Ontario Regulation 828/90 and consult with NEC staff).

If your application is for a temporary or recurring event, you must submit your application well in advance of the scheduled date to allow NEC staff enough to review your application. You may also require a municipal special event permit, so contact your local municipality about their requirements.

Find out if you need a development permit from the Niagara Escarpment Commission.

Use our interactive map to determine if your property is located within the Niagara Escarpment Plan Area and/or Area of Development Control.

Interactive map


  • This application and its content are made available by the Niagara Escarpment Commission as a public service without warranties of any kind, expressed or implied. 
  • The Niagara Escarpment Plan area and area of Development Control shown in the interactive map is for illustrative purposes only.  For accurate interpretation, refer to Niagara Escarpment Plan area and/or the Development Control Area. 
  • The Niagara Escarpment Plan Designation boundaries shown in the interactive map are approximate and subject to confirmation through site inspection and the application of the “Interpretation of Boundaries” section of the Niagara Escarpment Plan.
  • The technology to convert the maps on this page to an accessible format is not currently available.  These maps may not be compatible with screen reader software.  If you are unable to access these maps, please contact 

If you have determined that your property falls within the Niagara Escarpment Plan area and/or Area of Development Control, you are strongly encouraged to consult with the NEC prior to submitting your application .

If you are ready to start the Development Permit application process, you must complete and submit the following documents:  

 There is no charge to apply for a Development Permit from the NEC.  

Learn more about submitting a development permit application form

Once your application package has been received, a planner is assigned to handle your application. The planner will review the application for completeness and assess the potential impacts of the proposed development on the environment against the NEP policies and requirements that protect the Niagara Escarpment’s scenic resources, ecological and historic features. 

The planner will write a report recommending approval if:

  • your proposal is a “permitted use” in the Plan
  • your proposal meets the policies and development criteria of the Plan
  • other agencies are satisfied and support the application

Applications that are not in conflict with the Niagara Escarpment Plan and that are non-complex or routine in nature may be given a director’s approval.  Applications that do not comply with the Plan, or have been objected to by a consulted agency, or deal with developments already commenced without a Development Permit must go before the Niagara Escarpment Commission at a scheduled meeting.

Upon approval of a development permit application, there will be conditions attached.  The number and type of conditions will depend on the complexity of your application.

For questions regarding your development permit application or about what regulations may affect your property, contact us for more information. 

For concerns regarding possible unauthorized development in your area, you may either complete our online submission form  or contact our Compliance team for more information.