NSW planning system gets major overhaul

NSW planning system gets major overhaul

1 December 2017

The NSW government has introduced new laws that promise the biggest overhaul of the NSW planning system since the legislation’s inception almost 40 years ago, reports the AFR.

According to NSW’s chief planner, Gary White, the new Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment Bill will allow new developments that fit the planning vision to override complex regulation.

This will allow huge productivity gains across the state in terms of faster, more efficient approvals for new housing, infrastructure and new businesses, said Mr White

The changes build on the recent introduction of Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels (IHAPs) in Greater Sydney and Wollongong.

For the first time, the Act will recognise the role of councils in strategic planning for the local area through their preparation of new local strategic planning statements, said Minister for Planning and Housing, Anthony Roberts.

“These statements will see councils and communities formulate the vision for land use in the local area, capturing local character and what the community wants for the future. At the same time, the statements will translate the directions in regional and district plans into actions at the local level,” said Mr Roberts.

“Through the changes, councils will also be given the ability to impose a levy on complying development certificates, as well as being able to stop work for up to seven days on a complying development site to investigate whether construction aligns with the certificate,” he added.

Other changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act include:

  • Modernising and expanding the objects of the Act, which sets out the goals of the legislation. The new goals include promoting good design of the built environment, management of heritage, and proper construction and maintenance of buildings.
  • Strengthening and streamlining local development processes by ensuring NSW government agencies give advice and approvals in a timely way and giving the Secretary of Department of Planning and Environment the authority to step in where there is delay or conflict in advice.
  • Strengthening compliance by introducing enforceable undertakings, which are a powerful tool that enables breaches of the Act to be fixed, compensated or prosecuted.
  • Requiring councils to do an LEP check at least every 5 years to consider whether the LEP is still fit for purpose given any changes in demographics, infrastructure, strategic plans and other key indicators.
  • Strengthening the rules for regional planning panels in line with the local IHAPs – this includes ensuring property developers and real estate agents cannot sit on the panels, and that meetings are held in public.
  • Closing off the transitional arrangements for former Part 3A projects with all future modifications to these projects to be assessed under the State significant development or State significant infrastructure pathways.

Mr White said the new planning regime would allow for great flexibility especially in regional areas and could be implemented in as soon as two years.