Posted on July 26, 2020 by Anzer Khan and Lindsay Taylor

ALERT – NSW Planning System Reforms

The NSW Government revealed the NSW Planning Reform Action Plan (‘Action Plan‘) last week. The Action Plan aims to help boost the recovery of the economy, reduce planning assessment times, reduce red tape and create a user-friendly planning system.

Speaking at a Committee for Economic Development Australia event, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the Action Plan “takes us into the next phase of reform, creating a system that is efficient, rigorous, supports our economy and our environment, is accessible online and is easy for anyone to use”.

According to the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (‘DPIE’), the Action Plan will introduce a Faster Assessments Program that will slash assessment times as follows:

  • rezoning decisions cut by 191 days (a 33% time saving);
  • decisions on development applications for larger, regionally significant projects cut by 91 days (a 25% time saving); and
  • decisions on major projects of significance to the State cut by 20 days (a 17% time saving).

The Government’s ePlanning platform has been enhanced to ensure all councils can benefit from accessing development applications online. All councils will be required to adopt the online system by 1 July 2021 (some councils are required to adopt the system by 31 December 2020). Click here to read our earlier blog on changes to the NSW Planning Portal.

In creating a more efficient and transparent planning system, DPIE has outlined the following Action Plan measures:

  • implementing the next phase of the ePlanning Program to allow easier stakeholder interaction with the planning system;
  • creation of a new team to help eliminate red tape and administrative road-blocks to minimise applications requiring agency concurrences and referrals, and introducing benchmark time frames for key assessment and planning functions;
  • complying development reforms to support emerging industries and fast track low impact development and government projects;
  • increasing the role and resourcing of the Land and Environment Court by establishing a new class of appeals for rezonings to help unblock the planning system and the appointment of two additional commissioners to allow approximately 150 more cases to be heard each year; and
  • increased collaboration and coordination between DPIE, councils and government agencies to help resolve complex issues at the planning stage and ensure delivery of housing and employment hubs.

In relation to complying development reforms, on 1 July 2020 the NSW Government renamed the Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code to the Low Rise Housing Diversity Code (‘Code’). The Code allows a complying development approval to be issued within 20 days subject to compliance with the requirements in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008.

Click here to view the media release on the Action Plan.

Click here to view the DPIE’s Action Plan page.

If you have any questions regarding this article please contact Dr Lindsay Taylor on 02 8235 9701, or Anzer Khan on 02 8235 9717.