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Understanding the State Significant Development Process

The State Significant Development process provides an alternate approval pathway for projects or sites that are considered to be of State Significance.

At its core, the State Significant Development (SSD) process enables the assessment of significant projects at the State level, rather than at the local Council level. 

This ensures that not only local issues are considered, but broader state significant issues are also taken into account when determining the merit of the proposal.

State Environmental Planning Policy (State and Regional Development) 2011 (SEPP) sets out the various types of state significant development, state significant infrastructure, and regionally significant development.

The types of development that are classified under the SEPP include:

  • Aquaculture with a Capital Investment Value over $30M, mining valued over $30M, manufacturing valued over $30M, warehousing valued over $50M, hospitals valued over $30M, and schools valued over $20M, to name a few.

The types of state significant infrastructure include:

  • Ports over $30M, rail infrastructure over $50M, water storage facilities over $50M, and major pipelines.

In addition to nominating certain development as being state significant, the SEPP also identifies state significant sites such as the Sydney Opera House, Barangaroo, North Ryde, Gosford City Centre, Western Sydney Parklands, and numerous other sites that may require certain types of development to be assessed under the SSD process.

The steps involved in obtaining State Significant Development approval is summarised below.

1. Preparation and lodgement of request for Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEAR’s)

  • The Department of Planning & Environment will issue the SEAR’s within 28 days of receiving the electronic application.

2. Community / Stakeholder Consultation

  • The project must be informed by consultation, including relevant government agencies, infrastructure and service providers, special interest groups, affected landowners, businesses, and the community.
  • The Proponent must document the consultation process and demonstrate how the project has responded to the inputs received.

3. Preparation of Staged / Concept Development Application & Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

  • Prepared in accordance with Part 3, Schedule 2 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000.
  • Prepare in accordance with SEAR’s and assessment of key issues.
  • Prepare with regard to consultation outcomes.
  • Engage additional sub-consultants if required.

4. Preliminary Review

  • Email documentation to Department of Planning and Environment for review.
  • The Department of Planning and Environment will review the EIS in consultation with relevant agencies and generally advise the proponent within 21 days if further information is required.
  • Amend reports and obtain additional information, if required.
  • Provide back to Department of Planning and Environment to check before formal lodgement.

5. Lodgement

  • When documentation is agreed to by Department of Planning and Environment, lodgement can occur.
  • Electronic lodgement – documents are uploaded to the Department of Planning and Environment online portal.
  • All project documentation is made available on the Department of Planning and Environmental planning portal website.
  • Paper lodgement – Following Preliminary Review, the Department of Planning and Environment will advise on how many hard and digital (USB) copies of the documentation are required.  These are then submitted to the Department of Planning and Environment office.

6. Public Exhibition and Submissions

  • The Department of Planning and Environment exhibits the application for a minimum exhibition period of 30 days.
  • Within 10 days of the close of exhibition, all submissions are uploaded onto the Department of Planning and Environmental major projects register website.
  • The department will consider the issues raised in the submissions and may write to the proponent within 14 days of the close of exhibition requiring the proponent prepare a response to submissions or any additional information.
  • Expected Timeframe: 4 weeks (minimum) dependent on number of submissions.

7. Response to Submissions

  • The proponent may prepare and submit a response to any submissions and detail any changes to the project (where applicable).
  • The response to submissions will be placed on the Department of Planning and Environmental major projects register website and, depending on any significant changes, may be exhibited.
  • Expected Timeframe: Within assessment period but not part of statutory requirements.

8. Assessment (Department of Planning & Environment)

  • Department of Planning and Environment assess the application.
  • Additional information may be requested.
  • Decision is made if referral to the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) is required.
  • Expected Timeframe:  Legislative timeframe – 45-90 days dependent on pathway. However, it is more likely to be about 36 weeks (from the time of lodgement i.e. step 5) depending on time taken for additional information preparation.

Note:  Stop the clock can be activated during the above periods 7 and 8 for submission report or additional information. This may extend the assessment period over the legislated timeframe.

9. Assessment (Referral to the NSW Independent Planning Commission)

  • SSD applications will be referred to the NSW IPC for determination for:
    • Applications where a reportable political donation has been made by a proponent;
    • Applications rejected to by the relevant Council; and
    • Applications where more than 25 objection submissions are received by the Department of Planning and Environment. 
  • Referral to the NSW IPC takes place after the Department has completed its assessment and the assessment report is made available on the Department’s website.
  • Once the application is received, the commission will determine the application within a 6-week period. This 6-week period will include a 2-week notification period prior to public meeting (the duration of the public meeting will depend on the number of submissions received and the number of speakers registered). A public meeting will not affect the applicants appeal rights.
  • An additional request for information may be issued to the proponent during the assessment period.
  • Expected Timeframe: Approximately 6 weeks from referral  

10. Determination

  • The Minister for Planning is the consent authority for SSD applications and may approve (with or without conditions) or refuse the project.
  • Expected Timeframe: 2 weeks

How can Barker Ryan Stewart assist?

Barker Ryan Stewart has diverse experience with SSD projects ranging from a large private hospital, expansion in Greenwich, upgrades of NSW public schools, and a major metal recycling facility in Western Sydney. 

Barker Ryan Stewart has provided our full suite of services for these projects including town planning, civil engineering, surveying, traffic engineering, and project management.

In addition to being involved at the DA approval stage, Barker Ryan Stewart’s private certifiers have been involved by acting as the Principal Certifying Authority in the certification of large-scale private subdivisions previously approved under the old Part 3A system that has subsequently been replaced by the SSD process.

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