The proposed reform of the existing planning regime is
intended to result in a change in culture and approach to
On 16 April 2013, the NSW Government released its White Paper
and Exposure Draft Bills in relation to the proposed reform of the
NSW planning system. The reform's objective is to establish a
new planning system with an emphasis on evidence-based strategic
planning in the preparation of plans, community and stakeholder
engagement and decision-making. Submissions on the White Paper and
Draft Bills are open until 28 June 2013.
The Planning Bill 2003 and the Planning Administration Bill
2003, however, in many respects, represent a rewrite of the
existing Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979
(EP&A Act). Indeed, the framework of the
EP&A Act and its provisions in relation to plan making (Part
3), environmental assessment (Part 4), infrastructure (Part 5) and
those parts concerning certification and enforcement will look very
So what has changed? Essentially the proposed reform of the
existing planning regime is intended to result in a change in
culture and approach to environmental assessment; from combative to
collaborative, and from a system based on prescriptive development
assessment to one focused on strategic planning. This takes more
than just changes to the black letter of the law.
The changes to the planning system in NSW focus on five key
Each of these is the subject of a separate article. We also
discuss some additional important
The White Paper and Exposure Draft Bills reflect an indirect
approach to planning reform in NSW. Many of the processes and
procedures currently enshrined in the EP&A Act will continue to
apply under the new Planning Bill. Essential reform will be
delivered through the overhaul of planning policies, with local
plans taking on a significantly greater burden in delivering not
only local outcomes but also regional and indeed State objectives.
Further, to overcome widespread public apathy and antipathy to the
planning process in NSW, the Government intends to place
significant focus and resources in earlier strategic
The success or otherwise of the proposed reforms to the NSW
planning system will therefore very much depend on the
Government's ability to reform strategic plan-making and engage
the community at a much earlier stage of the planning process. This
requires as much a cultural and attitude change as it does reform
of the EP&A Act.
Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide
commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon
as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular
transactions or on matters of interest arising from this bulletin.
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The Council announced planning policies to encourage more inner suburban retirement village and aged care development.
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