Posted on August 4, 2022 by Alex Rutherford and Megan Hawley

Exhibition of the Draft Coastal Design Guide

On 29 July 2022, the Department of Planning and Environment (‘DPE‘) released the draft NSW Coastal Design Guidelines (‘Draft Guidelines‘) for public consultation. The Draft Guidelines are intended to replace the current NSW Coastal Design Guidelines 2003, and have been prepared as part of a range of initiatives being undertaken under the NSW Marine Estate Management Strategy 2018 – 2028.

It is intended that planning proposals for new local environmental plans in respect of land in the coastal zone will be required to give effect to the Draft Guidelines. The Draft Guidelines also contain non-mandatory urban design guidance for development in the coastal zone.

Planning Proposals

Section 3.33 of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979 (‘EPA Act‘) provides that a planning proposal is to include a justification for the proposed provisions of the new local environmental plan, including whether the proposed plan will comply with the requirements of any directions given by the Minister for Planning under s9.1 of the EPA Act.

Local Planning Direction 4.2 Coastal Management is such a direction, and requires planning proposals for land in the coastal zone to be consistent with, and give effect to, the NSW Coastal Design Guidelines 2003. It is intended to replace the reference to the current guidelines with a reference to the new Draft Guidelines, once finalised.

Chapter 3, Section 3.2 of the Draft Guidelines provides a number of mandatory requirements and recommendations for the assessment of planning proposals in the coastal zone. Such planning proposals must demonstrate how the mandatory requirements and recommendations in the Draft Guidelines have been addressed, or justify any contraventions.

Each of the mandatory requirements are in support of various existing statutory obligations, including under the Coastal Management Act 2016, the State Environmental Planning Policy (Resilience and Hazards) 2021 (‘SEPP‘) and the Marine Estate Management Act 2014.

There are mandatory requirements in respect of a range of matters, including:

  • avoiding development on coastal landforms,
  • maintaining the natural features of foreshores,
  • not increasing or intensifying land uses in coastal wetlands,
  • not altering coastal processes in coastal vulnerability areas (mapped under the SEPP),
  • avoiding any reduction in public access to coastal areas,
  • not allowing development that is likely to cause increased risk of coastal hazards, and
  • not enabling increased development or more intensive land uses in coastal vulnerability areas or on land affected by a current or future coastal hazard.

There are also other recommended measures.

There are no mandatory requirements in respect of Aboriginal cultural values and heritage, although there are some recommended measures.

Urban Design Guidance

Chapter 4 of the Draft Guidelines is aimed primarily at designers, architects and landscapers, and provides non-mandatory urban design guidance. The guidance is intended to inform regional and district plans, and local strategic planning statements for land in the coastal zone, as well as to guide and inform specific development projects and development applications. This guidance is intended to be used in conjunction with the Urban Design Guide for Regional NSW, by providing further design objectives and strategies for development within coastal areas.

The design guidance covers matters such as protecting the environment and amenity in the built environment, ensuring connectivity with the coast, and ensuring structures in areas subject to hazards are adaptable and engineered to withstand the projected hazards. There is design guidance for the natural environment, built form, and coastal infrastructure.

Public Consultation

The Draft Guidelines will be on public exhibition until 9 September 2022. Submissions can be made via the NSW Planning Portal here.

The Draft Guidelines are available here.

The DPE summary of the review is available here.

If you want to discuss the issues raised in this post, please contact Megan Hawley or Alex Rutherford.