Australia: New bill sets out replacement for Part 3A and planning approval for state significant developments

Last Updated: 21 June 2011
Article by Andrew Poulos

We now have more - but not all - the details of NSW's new planning regime for state significant developments with the introduction into NSW State Parliament last night of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Part 3A Repeal) Bill 2011.

The new state significant development laws at a glance

Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (Planning Act) will be repealed, but many of the state significant projects already being considered will be dealt with under a transitional regime announced in May are now in the Part 3A Repeal Bill.

There will be two separate regimes for state significant projects:

  • state significant development will require development consent from the Planning Minister or a delegate under a new division 4.1 in Part 4 of the Planning Act; and
  • state significant infrastructure will require approval from the Planning Minister under a new Part 5.1 of the Planning Act.

The Minister is to delegate his approval functions to the Planning Assessment Commission for state significant development projects lodged by private developers and controversial projects. The Minister's determination role will generally be limited to state significant infrastructure proposals by State agencies or public authorities.

The Government will also reduce the scope of projects which it is prepared to consider giving "state significant" status. It claims that the types of developments that can be state significant under the proposed amendments have been reduced by approximately 50 percent.

Projects which are not given state significant status will be dealt with under the existing regime – most likely development consent under Part 4 of the Planning Act, with the relevant local council or joint regional planning panel as consent authority. The Part 3A Repeal Bill also provides some important changes for the make-up of joint regional planning panels and the types of development which will be referred to them.

As is the case with Part 3A, a project will be either state significant development or state significant infrastructure if it is declared to be in a State environmental planning policy or a Ministerial order. However, the Minister will be able to make an order for state significant development (ie. call in projects not otherwise declared as a state significant development) only after taking advice from the Planning Assessment Commission – and that advice, and the Minister's determination to call it in, must be published.

It will no longer be possible to approve wholly prohibited state significant development, but partly prohibited state significant development can still be approved.

Certain aspects of the Part 3A regime have been retained (eg. removing the need for some approvals under other laws) and included in either or both of the new regimes.

What is state significant development or infrastructure?

The criteria for state significant development or infrastructure are:

  • projects delivering major public benefits, such as large-scale essential transport and utility infrastructure, and social services to the community;
  • infrastructure projects with significant environmental impacts and projects of a significantly hazardous or environmentally-polluting nature;
  • projects of significant economic benefit to the State or national economy, such as those with high levels of financial investment and employment generation; and
  • complex or precinct-scale projects (including where projects cross over multiple council and other jurisdictional boundaries) requiring a co-ordinated assessment to reduce overlapping approvals.

The classes of development that will be state significant

We don't know the full details yet of what is and isn't within each class, as they will be in a new State Environmental Planning Policy (State and Regional Development) 2011, to be known as the State and Regional Development SEPP, but what we do know from the Policy Statement on development classes is

  • there will be 24 classes of state significant developments, which is a reduction from the previous regime;
  • higher thresholds mean that fewer projects will fall within the definition;
  • residential, commercial and retail projects which were previously accepted for assessment under Part 3A purely on the basis of their capital investment value will no longer be state significant.

The Policy Statement also identifies seven sites where some or all development is to be identified as state significant, including parts of Sydney Harbour such as Barangaroo.

How will the call in process work?

After the applicant or council submits a written request, the Minister must publish it and then refer it to the Planning Assessment Commission to consider if the proposal is of State or regional planning significance.

Although they are not in the Bill, the Policy Statement says that the criteria include (but are not limited to) whether the proposal:

  • delivers significant public benefits for the State or regional communities, including those that directly relate to actions and goals in State or regional strategies and plans (including the State Infrastructure Strategy and projects endorsed by Infrastructure NSW); or
  • is complex, contentious or environmentally hazardous and local authorities have requested or require State assistance; or
  • is a precinct-scale or linear project that crosses over multiple local government areas or other jurisdiction boundaries, and requires co-ordinated assessment.

If rezoning for prohibited development is required, that will occur concurrently.

You might also be interested in...

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.