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The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act Update

The overhaul of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act has resulted in a completely new numbering system which may generate some confusion in the short term. 

For example, people used to referring to section 96 modifications will now need to refer to section 4.55 modifications; and section 94 contributions are now known as section 7.11 contributions.

Three new objectives have been added to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act.  The intent of these new objectives is to promote:

  • Good design and amenity of the built environment
  • The sustainable management of built and cultural heritage (including Aboriginal cultural heritage)
  • The proper construction and maintenance of buildings, including the protection of the health and safety of their occupants

Every council and NSW agency with key approval functions under the  Environmental Planning and Assessment Act will be required to prepare Community Participation Plans (CPP’s).  The plans will set out when and how planning authorities will engage with their communities across all the planning functions they perform. Decision-makers will also be required to give and publicly notify reasons for a range of planning decisions where they are deciding if development should proceed to help community members to see how their views have been taken into account and improve accountability to stakeholders.

The amended Act also includes provisions relating to the Independent Planning Commission (formerly Planning Assessment Commission); Sydney District and Regional Planning Panels; and Local Planning Panels.

As a result of the local planning panel introduction, or previously known as Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels, all development applications within Sydney and Wollongong will be determined by either a local planning panel, Council staff or the relevant regional panel.  The local panel are mandatory for all Sydney Councils and Wollongong Council and will include a chair, two independent expert members and a community member.

The Act also now requires each council to prepare a local strategic planning statement which will set out the 20-year vision for land-use in the local area, the special character and values that are to be preserved and how change will be managed into the future.

The statements will shape how the development controls in the local environmental plan (LEP) evolve over time, with the LEP the main tool to deliver the council and community’s plan.

The above is only a small snapshot of the changes to the Act. You can look up the changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act here or feel free to contact BRS staff if you have any questions on how the changes may affect your next project.

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