Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 2006

The Environmental Planning and Assessment Bill 2006 was passed through the NSW Parliament this week.

The bill will give Minister for Planning Frank Sartor greater powers to intervene in the local planning and decision making process.

The Minister will now be able to appoint an administrator or assessment panel on the grounds of unsatisfactory planning by a Council as well as technical breaches of State Planning law.
The new powers also extend to developer contributions and development control plans.

Planning Assessment Panels

The Minister is able to appoint a ‘planning assessment panel’, an administrator, or both, to take on the Council’s planning and development responsibilities if:

  1. the Minister is of the opinion that the council has failed to comply with its obligations under the planning legislation or
  2. the Minister is of the opinion that the performance of a council in dealing with planning and development matters (or any particular class of such matters) is unsatisfactory because of the manner in which the council has dealt with those matters, the time taken or in any other respect, or
  3. the council agrees to the appointment, or
  4. there is a recommendation from the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Development Contributions

Under the new law the Minister can determine an area a ‘special contribution area’ and direct Council to levy ‘special infrastructure contributions’. There is no right of appeal from that determination.

The first of these special contribution areas is to be the north-west and south-west growth areas where 170,000 homes are proposed over 25 years.

Without the approval of the Minister, councils will no longer be able to collect development contributions under section 94A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act in special contribution areas.

The Minister is now also able to direct a council, or act in the place of a council, to make, amend or repeal a contribution plan.

Development Control Plans

The Minister is able to direct a council, or act in the place of a council to make, amend or revoke a Development Control Plan (DCP).

The Minister has indicated that he will intervene when he is of the opinion that DCPs conflict with local environment plans (LEPs), prevent appropriate development, or unreasonably increase the cost of development.

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