Australia: Green Paper on planning reform in NSW released by government

In brief - Government sets agenda for overhauling NSW planning system

The Green Paper identifies four key areas of planning reform: community participation, strategic focus, streamlined assessment and provision of infrastructure.

Green Paper responds to independent review of NSW planning system

On 14 July 2012, the NSW government released its long awaited blueprint for planning reform in NSW: A New Planning System for New South Wales – Green Paper. The document sets out a comprehensive agenda for overhauling the NSW planning system which, according to the government, is mired in complexity, overly regulated, unacceptably politicised and focused on process rather than outcome.

The Green Paper is the government's initial response to the recommendations of the Independent Review of the NSW Planning System that commenced in July 2011 and was led by The Hon Tim Moore and The Hon Ron Dyer.

At a broad level, the Green Paper focuses on four key areas of reform – community participation, strategic focus, streamlined assessment and provision of infrastructure. The Green Paper goes on to introduce some 23 "transformative changes" which, through further consultation, will form the basis of the new draft legislation, due out in early 2013.

Some of the key transformative changes are summarised below.

Greater emphasis on community consultation and participation

There will be greater emphasis on community consultation and participation during the strategic planning stage of the process, with the aim of reducing community consultation (and disputation) at the assessment stage.

This policy initiative will be supported by the adoption of a "Public Participation Charter" which, when implemented, will require that community consultation occurs in the early stages of the plan making process. The charter will set minimum standards and also encourage innovation and best practice in consultation techniques.

Abolition of Local Environmental Plans and Development Control Plans

These will be replaced over time by various planning hierarchies, including the introduction of "Local Use Plans". LUPs will be structured differently to LEPs.

In short, LUPs will comprise four key parts, including a strategic section, a statutory spatial land use plan, a section on infrastructure and services and a section on development guidelines and performance monitoring requirements. The statutory spatial land use plan will contain the bulk of what is currently found in the comprehensive LEPs, including zonings.

Scrapping of State Environmental Planning Policies and Section 117 Directions

These will be replaced by around 10 Ministerial Directives. The Green Paper also proposes switching off concurrences and referrals. The government has, in part, commenced the process of eliminating concurrent authorities and has pledged to continue this process.

Expanding the scope of complying development

The government will look at expanding the codes to new industrial buildings on industrial land, additions to industrial buildings, additions to existing commercial buildings, townhouses, terrace housing and villas and housing on smaller lots. The government is also considering introducing a new mechanism that would allow for the consideration of variations from the standards for an otherwise compliant house.

Creation of new suburban character zones

The creation of new suburban character zones will enable local councils to decide to limit development in specific areas.

Creation of new enterprise zones

These will be zones where a range of development can take place. While it is principally designed to stimulate employment-generating development, there will be some flexibility to allow for other compatible uses.

Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) and Joint Regional Planning Panels (JRPPs)

The role of the PAC and the JRPPs will be maintained in decisions on developments that are state and regionally significant.

At a local level, the Green Paper is contemplating a requirement that councils appoint expert panels (such as Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels) and delegate local decision making to those panels, with the aim of depoliticising the assessment process.

Expanding the review roles of the PAC and JRPPs

The Green Paper proposes to expand the review roles of the PAC and JRPPs to include pre-gateway reviews where a consent authority refuses or delays the preparation of a planning proposal; gateway reviews where the council or the proponent do not agree with the gateway determination and, significantly, rezoning proposals that have not been approved.

Introduction of an "amber light" notification regime

The effect of an "amber light" notification regime would be to permit a consent authority which has determined to refuse a development application to allow the developer to make certain modifications to the development prior to the determination, which would render the application acceptable for approval.

Need for fundamental change in delivery culture

The initiatives proposed by the NSW government are unquestionably bold in their aims and, when implemented, will significantly change the way that development is procured in NSW.

What is even more important than the government's transformative proposals, as outlined in the Green Paper, is a fundamental change in the "delivery culture" related to the implementation of development in NSW. Only this will facilitate true reform in the four key areas of community participation, strategic focus, streamlined assessment and provision of infrastructure that the Green Paper has identified.

The government has acknowledged that significant further work needs to be carried out before the publication of the White Paper and the release of the accompanying Exposure Bill early next year. The devil, of course, will be in the detail.

Government calls for a response to the proposals in the Green Paper

The government has called for feedback on the proposals set out in the Green Paper during the exhibition period, which ends on 14 September 2012. We welcome you to raise any points related to the Green Paper with us so that we can include them in any submission we lodge.

For more information on planning and environment law, please see the website of Colin Biggers & Paisley or contact Anthony Perkins at

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)
Related Video
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.