Planning changes imminent

  • 13 Dec 2016
Key Points
  • Planning changes promised.
  • Bill to come very soon.
  • Changes a mixed bag.

Note for the diary – major changes to NSW government’s planning laws will be arriving very shortly.

In March this year, Minister Stokes foreshadowed significant changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A), which will take up many of the ideas supported during the failed bid for reforms in 2013, along with other priorities.

Now that the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) has released its draft District Plans the time is ripe for the State Government to pull it all together with a co-ordinated upgrade of state and local planning.

Parliamentary sittings have ceased for the year, with the first opportunity to table a bill now being February 2017. This means the draft bill will probably be appearing soon.

Foreshadowed changes should include:

  • increased community engagement, both at the plan making stage and pre-DA;
  • a clearer hierarchy of planning instruments with some recognition of the draft GSC District Plans;
  • a simpler development assessment system;
  • measures to reduce conflicts of interest within Government;
  • a focus on design outcomes in development; and
  • greater clarity around complying development.

Given the key objectives of State economic development and the demand for housing in Sydney, there is a great need for simpler planning processes, driven by clear plans and planning objectives.

Increased community engagement risks holding up development, and where local planning instruments have been the subject of close community formulation, DA’s should proceed with minimal disruption where they accord with agreed planning controls. The amendments will need to deal with the tension between neighbourhood consultation and the need for increased densities and housing forms in the Sydney region.

The industry will no doubt be keen to see if the thresholds for JRPP involvement are increased, and whether Councils will be pushed to an increased use of independent assessment panels.

The importance of a hierarchy of plans is paramount, to direct planning outcomes and ensure that overall State and local planning objectives are achieved. If bolstered by a clear assessment path, this will bring certainty to investment in property development. It remains to be seen how well the changes can facilitate the essential changes which Sydney is undergoing.

Whatever it contains, the Bill may well appear for public scrutiny before Christmas, and will no doubt raise as much response as the reform attempts of 2013.

Post by Robert Wilcher 

Most Popular Articles


When can the unqualified be qualified? Non-lawyers engaging in legal practice - when is it OK and when is the law broken

Only lawyers can provide legal advice, but anyone can provide legal information. When thinking of the difference, you might ask your friend or colleague to provide information about a serious illness; however you would seek out a qualified medical professional in relation to its treatment.

Service of Notices by Registered Post

Where service of a notice is authorised or required by post, unless the contrary intention appears, service will be deemed to be effected at the time when the notice would be delivered in the ordinary course of post: see the various Acts Interpretation acts of the States and Commonwealth.

Thanks, but no thanks – I don’t want to inherit

It seems odd that anybody would reject an inheritance, but for some beneficiaries, there are valid reasons they do not wish to receive their inheritance.

Subscribe to Our Blog

Keeping you connected, Hicksons regularly publishes articles to keep you up to date on the latest developments. To receive these updates via email, please subscribe below and indicate which areas of law you would like to receive information on.