Australia: Planning reforms in NSW have commenced!

Last Updated: 8 March 2018
Article by Breellen Warry and Georgia Appleby

Most Read Contributor in Australia, March 2019

Significant changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) passed by parliament in November 2017 have now commenced. While the changes came into force from 1 March 2018, in practice a number of the key reforms have not yet taken effect and will be implemented in stages over the coming years.

Overall, the amendments to the EP&A Act aim to promote:

  • enhanced community participation
  • a greater focus on strategic planning
  • increased probity and accountability in decision-making; and
  • simpler, faster and more accessible planning processes.

An overview of the estimated commencement dates for the key changes is set out below:

New obligation Estimated commencement
Local Planning Panels 1 March 2018
Changes to concurrences and referrals 1 March 2018
Changes to conditions for major projects 1 March 2018
Enforceable undertakings 1 March 2018
LEP checks 1 March 2018
Standard form development control plans 1 March 2018
Improvements to complying development Proceedings commenced after 1 March 2018
Statements of reasons 1 July 2018
Building and subdivision 1 September 2018
Local Strategic Planning Statements 1 July 2019 (GMR)
1 July 2020 (the rest)
Community Participation Plans 1 July 2019

It is also important to be aware that the EP&A Act has been restructured to accommodate all of these changes. The EP&A Act is now divided into 10 parts (rather than eight) and a new decimal numbering system has been introduced. A handy reference sheet for equivalent sections that have been renumbered under the EP&A Act is provided below:

Sec 10.7
Previous section of the Act Description Updated section in the Act
Sec 55 Planning proposals Sec 3.33
Sec 76 Development that does not need consent Sec 4.1
Sec 76A Development that needs consent Sec 4.2
Sec 76B Development that is prohibited Sec 4.3
Sec 77A Designated development Sec 4.10
Sec 78A Application Sec 4.12
Sec 79B Consultation and concurrence Sec 4.13
Sec 79C Evaluation Sec 4.15
Sec 80 Determination Sec 4.16
Sec 80A Imposition of conditions Sec 4.17
Sec 82A Review of determination Secs 8.2, 8.3, 8.4, 8.5
Sec 82B Review where development application not accepted Secs 8.2, 8.3, 8.4
Sec 82C Review procedures generally Sec 8.5
Sec 82D Effect of review decisions Sec 8.5
Sec 83 Date from which consent operates Secs 4.20, 8.13
Sec 85 What is a "complying development certificate"? Sec 4.27
Sec 89 Determination of Crown development applications Sec 4.33
Sec 91 What is "integrated development"? Sec 4.46
Sec 93F Planning agreements Sec 7.4
Sec 94 Contribution towards provision or improvement of amenities or services Sec 7.11
Sec 94A Fixed development consent levies Sec 7.12
Sec 95 Lapsing of consent Sec 4.53
Sec 96 Modification of consents – generally Sec 4.55
Sec 97 Appeal by applicant – development applications Secs 8.7, 8.10
Sec 106 – 109B Existing uses Secs 4.65 – 4.70
Sec 109D Certifying authorities Sec 6.17
Sec 109E Principal certifying authorities Sec 6.5
Sec 110 Definitions (Definition of an Activity – Environmental Assessment) Sec 5.1
Sec 117 Directions by the Minister Sec 9.1
Sec 119D Powers of investigation officers to enter premises Sec 9.16
Secs 121A-121ZS Orders Secs 9.34 – 9.37 and Schedule 5
Sec 125 Offences against this Act and the regulations Secs 9.37, 9.50
Sec 149 Offences against this Act and the regulations Planning certificates
Sec 149A Building certificates Sec 6.26

Keep an eye out over the coming weeks as we provide you with more information about these changes and how they will affect you.

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.

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