After many months of consultation and an Independent Review of the NSW Planning System, the NSW Government has released A New Planning System for NSW Green Paper (Green Paper) proposing key elements of a new planning system. In this overview, we highlight a number of key reforms proposed in the Green Paper. A more detailed analysis will follow in coming days.
The Green Paper is the NSW Government's response to the recommendations of the NSW Planning System Review, an Independent Panel chaired by the Honourable Tim Moore and the Honourable Ron Dyer. The Independent Panel's recommendations are contained in The Way Ahead for Planning in NSW – Recommendations of the NSW Planning System Review (Review Report). While the Green Paper adopts a number of the recommendations of the Review Report, it reserves the other recommendations for future consideration during the preparation of the White Paper and legislation.
The Green Paper proposes 23 "transformative changes" grouped into four fundamental areas of reform focused on:
- Community participation
- Strategic planning
- Streamlined approval
- Provision of infrastructure
Further, the Green Paper aspires to create a new planning system that will effect a cultural change to empower planners to move away from a statutorily based and bureaucratic planning process. This 'new generation' of planners will have a facilitative approach to the integration of infrastructure and land uses, while representing a strong appreciation for land economics and growth management.
Key reforms include:
Community participation, through
- the development of a 'Public Participation Charter' to clarify rights and standards of community participation.
A strategic focus, to be achieved by
- developing strategic plans in a whole of government approach with the goal of reducing the number of concurrences required at the development assessment stage. This process will include a strong emphasis on community and stakeholder engagement;
- focussing on integrating land use planning and the provision of infrastructure;
- reducing the number of environmental planning instruments, including repealing all State Environmental Planning Policies and replacing them with a succinct series of NSW Planning Policies – and integrating development control plans into local land use plans;
- creating three new zones:
- An Enterprise Zone aimed to boost employment generation by providing a high degree of flexibility in planning controls.
- A Future Urban Release Area Zone to identify areas proposed for future growth of residential development.
- A Suburban Character Zone which will explicitly exclude development that adversely impacts on the character of an area.
Streamlining approvals, through
- streaming development applications into assessment tracks according to the predicted impacts and complexity of assessment of the proposed development;
- providing for a range of non-politicised decision makers, including the Planning Assessment Commission, Joint Regional Planning Panels, Local Expert Panels and Council staff under delegation. The role of elected Councillors in determining development applications is recommended to be removed;
- endorsing the 'amber light approach' already in use in the Land and Environment Court, by requiring consent authorities to provide advice to an applicant on which aspects of their proposed development can be amended in order for their development to be approved; and
- expanding the types of development which can be approved as code assessable development. The Green Paper proposes that fully complying developments cannot be refused consent. For a development which partially complies with the code, the Green Paper proposes that it will be subject to merit assessment for only the particular aspects the proposed development which does not comply with the code.
Improved provision of infrastructure, by
- linking planning and delivery of infrastructure to strategic planning for growth;
- emphasising public private partnerships in the provision of infrastructure by holding competitive tenders for the private sector; and
- providing for development contributions for the provision of public open space and drainage lands to be collected at the regional level.
Submissions can be made on the Green Paper until 14 September 2012. Please contact us if you would like assistance in preparing a submission.
The NSW Government anticipates that a White Paper and Exposure Bill will be prepared by the end of 2012, with legislation to be considered by the NSW Parliament in early 2013.
Access copies of the Green Paper and the Review Report here.
Norton Rose Australia will shortly be holding a seminar on the proposed reforms contained in the Green Paper.
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.