Amendments to the NSW State Planning System

The Environmental Planning Legislation Amendment Bill 2006 was passed by the NSW Parliament last week. This legislation is part of a program of legislative and regulatory reforms with the aim of fine-tuning the operation of the state’s planning system.

The legislation involves technical and targeted amendments to a number of pieces of planning and building legislation. The following is a summary of the main legislative amendments:

Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979
  • The exisiting enforcement provisions have been strengthened for all developments, including major projects. This brings developments into line with other exisiting environmental legislation, such as the Protection of the Environment Operations 1997.
  • The administration of certain provisions relating to developer contributions has been clarified. This will enable the construction of the Boyd Street overpass to the Tungun bypass in northern NSW to be undertaken from developer contributions collected by the Tweed Shire Council for this purpose.
  • The amendment makes it clear that in issuing occupation, construction, subdivision and compliance certificates under the Act, councils must have regard to an to an objective test, based on reasonableness, rather than the exisiting subjective test. Provisions relating to the appointment of principal certifying authorities by developers and owner builders have also been clarified.
  • The time limits for Crown development applications under part 5A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 have been reduced from 100 days to 61 days, promoting greater efficiency in the delivery of government infrastructure.
  • Following its review, a range of amendments have been made to the new major projects assessment system which commenced operation on 1 August 2005. These amendments are designed to improve operational efficiency and provide proponents, government agencies and the community with greater certainty, by ensuring there is a single environmental assessment process for major projects. This will rationalise the current dual process of rezoning proposals and development applications.
  • Minor amendments have also been made relating to the environmental assessment requirements for routine activities, modifications to reduce environmental impact and the powers of the Department of Planning to levy fees.
City of Sydney Act 1987
  • The appointment of the four non-Council members of the Central Sydney Planning Committee has been simplified. The Director General of the Department of Planning and the Government Architect will no longer be ex-officio members of the committee (although they both remain on the committee as ordinary appointees of the Minister for Planning). No changes have been made to the existing Council membership of the committee.
  • Other changes include bringing the conflict of interest provisions for the committee into line with general local government conflict of interest provisions and making it easier for alternative representatives to be appointed.
Local Government and Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Transfer of Functions) Act 2001
  • Completion of the reform of regulations for places of entertainment and temporary structures has been enabled. The red tape for live music and comedy venues, as well as community fairs and outdoor music festivals, has been reduced by allowing for one consent process rather than two.