By broadening the public's awareness of and
involvement in the strategic planning phases of the planning
approval process, there should be less need for public consultation
in the later stages
The NSW Government recognises that in order to achieve effective
reform of the planning system, there needs to be a change in the
way in which the community is consulted in relation to planning
The existing public consultation regime in the planning approval
process has been extensively criticised from all quarters –
broad elements of the community regard it superficial and lacking
any transparency and accountability, whereas the property sector
believes that the "one size fits all" approach to
consultation unnecessarily delays the assessment of developments
which are otherwise permissible within the relevant zone.
Consequently public consultation during the planning process is
frequently perceived as adversarial.
The Government proposes to reform the existing consultation
requirements in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979
(EP&A Act) in two significant ways:
to enact a Charter which sets out a number of key principles in
relation to community participation in the planning process. That
Charter will underpin participation plans that local councils and
other planning bodies need to prepare to ensure that the community
are appropriately engaged; and
to shift the emphasis on consultation to the strategic phase of
the planning process rather than at the back end of development
assessment. Consequently, the Government proposes a regime of
The Bill imposes a statutory obligation on planning authorities
to act consistently with the Charter when undertaking strategic
planning and development assessment. Community participation plans
are to be prepared based on the Charter and it is those plans which
will provide proportionate levels of consultation with emphasis on
community involvement in strategic planning
rather than complying and code assessment developments. This
will be critical if the Government is to achieve its target of
having 80% of all development applications determined in less than
25 days within five years of commencement of the new Act.
The effectiveness of public consultation, however, is only as
good as the level of and opportunities for genuine engagement.
There is clearly a need for the Government and planning authorities
to overcome widespread public suspicion and antipathy to the
planning process in NSW. Cultural change is as important as changes
to the process of public consultation.
In an effort to deal with the vexed issue of public
consultation, the Government proposes to establish a new Deputy
Director-General position in the Department responsible for
cultural change, and to require planning authorities in preparing
their community participation plans to identify alternatives
methods of community engagement to maximise the opportunities for,
and effectiveness of, that consultation.
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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