Sydney, ANZAC and Glebe Island Bridges, Sydney - photo Marghanita

Ecologically Sustainable Sydney


NSW Planning System Review

Extension to submissions deadline to 2 March 2012

It was announced on 9 February 2012 by the co-chairs of the Review Panel that the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure had approved an extension of 2 weeks to the closing date for submissions. The Minister's approval of the extension followed a request from a number of key stakeholders.
The new closing date for submissions on the Issues Paper is midnight Friday 2 March 2012. Source: (viewed 11.45am 13 Feb 2012

Issues Paper (December 2011)

The Hon Brad Hazzard MP Minister for Planning & Infrastructure
Minister assisting the Premier on Infrastructure NSW

....The Issues Paper summarises what communities from Broken Hill to Byron Bay have to say about the NSW planning system - what they want changed and what issues require further discussion...

"I am urging all residents, industry and community groups to view the Issues Paper, send forward their submissions and engage in this truly exciting and historic opportunity" Minister Hazzard said.

Comments and submissions on the issues paper are invited until 17 February 2012.

...response and feedback to the issues paper will help develop policy options to be released in 2012. Lodge your submission online or by post to the Planning System Review, GPO Box 39, Sydney 2001.

The Issues Paper of the NSW Planning System Review, entitled, The way ahead for planning in NSW?, was released for public comment on 6 December 2011....NSW Planning System Review Issues Paper

Chapter A: Introduction (Planning_review_issues_paper_chapter_A.pdf)


The New South Wales Planning System Review is to undertake the following tasks in advising the New South Wales Government on a new planning system for the State and a new legislative planning framework to replace the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. In doing so, the Planning System Review is to:

  1. Consult widely with stakeholder groups and communities throughout the State to identify the issues that require consideration in developing a new planning system;
  2. To consider stakeholder and community submissions on issues identified during the consultation process;
  3. Examine interstate and overseas planning systems to ensure that relevant best practice options are considered for inclusion in a new planning system for New South Wales;
  4. Recommend a statutory framework and necessary implementation measures for a new planning system for New South Wales that:
  5. Promotes the maximum use of information technology in:
  6. Any other matters that the Planning System Review considers should be included in their recommendations that are not otherwise dealt with the above.

...1.0 A new planning system: What should the underlying principles be?

Throughout the community forums, there was a widespread desire for the new planning system to be:

There was also a strong message expressed by both stakeholder groups and the community that unnecessary delay in planning processes should be eliminated. The discussions were not without tension. The balance between the ‘right to be heard’ and the ‘right to decide’ regarding development proposals was frequently explored during the community forums. In relation to plan making, an issue that arose frequently during discussion was the balance between participation (the community being asked what it wants in a plan, in a bottom-up process) and consultation (a top- down process in which a community is asked its opinion of a draft plan).

Australia's National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development (1992) defines ecologically sustainable development as: 'using, conserving and enhancing the community's resources so that ecological processes, on which life depends, are maintained, and the total quality of life, now and in the future, can be increased'. - (viewed 20 Dec 2011)

.... Two questions that were consistently raised were:

Another frequent suggestion was to include specific reference to climate change as well as ESD.

....A common concern was the need for greater flexibility in inland rural and regional areas. Discussion in this context centred on significant differences between urban planning needs in:

...Many participants also expressed a desire for flexibility in planning controls, instead of rigid adherence to specified numerical controls. This was particularly the case in relation to issues such as minimum lot sizes for dwelling entitlements in rural areas.

In contrast, there were also some submissions that advocated strict, rigid controls in plans – for example for lot size, height or floor space ratios. These controls would not be able to be varied, no matter how small the change or how compelling the merits.

If limits were to be relaxed on the basis of merit, concerns were expressed that the reasons given would need to be fully justified.
A3. Should there be strict controls in plans?
A4. Should applications that depart from development controls be permitted?
A5. What should the test be for a proposed variation?

...Concerns related to development assessment ranged from a perceived inadequacy in notifying neighbours or the community through to the difficulty of accessing and copying information. In particular, people expressed frustration about accessing and providing a response to environmental impact statements (and supporting documentation) for proposed larger development projects.

For local development, a number of issues arose concerning complying development where:

....1.9 Building certification

Some years ago, changes were made so that private certifiers as well as councils could inspect and certify development and building works. As part of the Review’s stakeholder group consultations, representatives of the private certification industry expressed general satisfaction with the system. However, there was a widespread current of community and council dissatisfaction with the present process.

There were broad philosophic objections to the concept of private certifiers being paid by applicants for providing certification. However, by far the greatest concerns related to:

Council representatives expressed concern that councils unfairly bore responsibility for remedying breaches and they had inadequate powers and resources to do so effectively.

Community concerns included:


...Chapter B: Key elements, structure and objectives of a new planning system

Many suggestions were made at community forums that there should be one overarching objective that would take precedence over all others. The overarching objective proposed was that new planning legislation should be based on ecologically sustainable development. It was also proposed that this term should be defined.

B2. Should ecologically sustainable development be the overarching objective of new planning legislation? - Page 27 Planning_review_issues_paper_chapter_B.pdf

Chapter C: Making plans
Chapter D: Development proposals and assessment

....Some submissions were concerned with limiting the scope of development that is identified as complying. These submissions were in favour of excluding some types of works, such as:

...D2. What development should be designated as State significant and how should it be identified? Should either specific projects or types of development generally be identified as State significant?

...A number of people thought the criteria for regional development should be reviewed. They suggested that more development should be identified as only of local significance, to be determined by a council.

On the other hand, a number of submissions suggested giving councils discretion to earmark additional types of development to be decided by a JRPP. This could function to take the political heat out of a decision on a particular project.
D3. What type or category of development, if any, should be identified as regionally significant to be determined by a body other than the council?

....In the three contributions plans that were examined, the costs required ranged from approximately $40,000 to $70,000, if the whole plan were to be funded by such levies. Presently, cap amounts are applied uniformly across release areas. This does not reflect differences in costings for the community infrastructure covered by the relevant plan.
D97. In light of the particular circumstances that might apply to the area covered in a contributions plan, should IPART be given a standing reference to enable councils to apply for variation to the cap on community infrastructure contributions?...

Chapter E: Appeals and reviews; enforcement and compliance

There was also a related question as to what role objectors could have when an appeal is made by an applicant, or when proceedings are brought by a consent authority. Should third parties have a broader right to be heard in these proceedings than they currently have?...Planning_review_issues_paper_chapter_E.pdf

Chapter F: Implementation of the new planning system

...response and feedback to the issues paper will help develop policy options to be released in 2012. Lodge your submission online or by post to the Planning System Review, GPO Box 39, Sydney 2001. © Ramin Communications 2008-2011. Last modified 29 Nov 2013.