The NSW Premier and the Minister for Planning and
Infrastructure last week signalled major changes to the application
of development codes to new projects. The changes are set to
eviscerate much of the potential of the
White Paper on Planning Reform in NSW.
The Minister announced by media release:
code assessable development will only apply in nominated growth
areas (e.g., around the North West and South West train lines or
areas nominated by councils)
councils will be allowed to modify the state-wide codes to
better reflect their local area
the target for code assessable developments has been removed
councils will have to prepare Neighbourhood Impact Statements
if they intend to implement code assessable development.
These changes will erode the efficiency and affordability of the
planning reforms, effectively subjecting development to the same
impediments of slow assessment and public criticism as currently
The White Paper set a target of 80% code assessable development
within 5 years, but this has now been scrapped. The ability of
councils to modify codes will reduce the utility of codes, and
render everything from home renovations to multi-dwelling
development open to the process of criticism and review that has
beleaguered development in the recent past. Councils which wish to
take up a code based approach now face an additional bureaucratic
process called a Neighbourhood Impact Statement which will further
impede the utility of codes.
Moreover, code application will be rigidly enforced. In
Parliament, the Premier made these statements:
"I should make it clear that
if a proponent comes along to a site within a code assessable
area—in other words, one that has been established by the
community—and sees that the community has agreed this
particular site can support, for example, a five-storey building,
that proponent will not, and I emphasise will not, be able to seek
to vary the code assessable limit. If they want to go one
centimetre over that limit, they will have to go back to a full
The White Paper had envisaged methods for minor variations to
code compliance, and only required merit assessment for those
portions of a development that fell outside the code.
By contrast, the Premier's language stridently retracts from
this philosophy – if you exceed the code by as little as 1
cm, your entire project will be fully merit assessable.
This lack of flexibility defeats much of the potential of the
White Paper, which had acknowledged the need to reduce DA costs and
timeframes and improve certainty of outcome. Last week's
changes will erode these objectives.
The revised Planning Bill was due in Parliament this week, but
these changes will delay it somewhat.
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 Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
The Council announced planning policies to encourage more inner suburban retirement village and aged care development.
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”
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).