Posted on March 20, 2024 by Katie Mortimer and Megan Hawley

Inquiry into ‘Zombie Developments’ in NSW & Call for Submissions

Yesterday, the NSW Legislative Assembly Committee on Environment and Planning announced a call for submissions as part of the Committee’s inquiry into historical development consents in New South Wales (Inquiry).

Historical development consents have recently been termed ‘zombie developments’ and are developments that were granted development consent many years ago (sometimes decades ago), have achieved physical commencement such that the consent is prevented from lapsing and is in force, but have not been substantially carried out or completed.

Community concern can be raised when work on a ‘zombie development’ restarts after years of no activity. The Chair of the Inquiry, Clayton Barr MP said:

‘Zombie developments reflect the law at the time the development consent was initially granted. Planning and environmental standards have changed since some of these older consents were issued and the community’s expectations have shifted too.’

You can read our earlier post regarding ‘zombie’ development consents here.

Terms of Reference 

The Inquiry’s Terms of Reference are:

That the Committee on Environment and Planning inquire into and report on historical development consents in New South Wales, including:

(a) The current legal framework for development consents, including the physical commencement test.

(b) Impacts to the planning system, development industry and property ownership as a result of the uncertain status of lawfully commenced development consents.

(c) Any barriers to addressing historical development consents using current legal provisions, and the benefits and costs to taxpayers of taking action on historical development concerns.

(d) Possible policy and legal options to address concerns regarding historical development consents, particularly the non-completion of consents that cannot lapse, and options for further regulatory support, including from other jurisdictions.

(e) Any other matters.

Call for Submissions 

Submissions are sought specifically on:

  • the impact of historical development consents on the NSW planning system, development industry and property ownership, and
  • policy and legal solutions to address the issue, including what other jurisdictions have done to address similar issues.

Submissions close on 3 June 2024.

We will provide further updates on the Inquiry, including any potential reforms to the test for ‘physical commencement’, as information is made available.

You can read more about the Inquiry here.

If you wish to discuss this post, please contact Katie Mortimer on 8235 9716 or Megan Hawley on 8235 9703.