Planning Bill passes through NSW Upper House with amendments

After three readings and fifty-one amendments, the NSW Planning Bill and Planning Administration Bill were passed by the Legislative Council on Wednesday evening, 27 November 2013 - but only after several key amendments.

Some of the amendments have transformed the bills considerably to what was initially tabled in Parliament.  The amendments were sought by a coalition of the Opposition, Greens and Shooters and Fishers Party, and include:

  • Removal of Code Assessable Development which was originally included so that development applications in high growth areas that complied with certain agreed requirements would be approved within 25 days.  Code Assessable Development was touted as a way to fast-track development in the booming suburbs of Western Sydney.  It was seen by some to curtail the ability of residents to object to developments that fell within this category.

  • Affordable housing contributions have been inserted that require, in certain circumstances, the consent authority to impose conditions on development consents to make a dedication of land to be used for the provision of affordable housing, or for the payment of money toward the provision of affordable housing.

  • The Planning Bill as originally tabled placed economic growth at the forefront of the Act’s objectives.  There is now greater emphasis on management of development, conservation of natural and artificial resources.

  • Specific clauses of recent Government amendments to the State Environmental Planning Policy (Mining, Petroleum Production and Extractive Industries) 2007 have been repealed. Those amendments placed the primary consideration of development for the purposes of mining as the ‘significance of a mining resource’, encompassing economic benefits such as employment generation, capital investment and royalties paid to the State.

  • There have been changes with respect to public notice of community participation in proposed strategic plans.  The Bill has been amended to include a 28 day exhibition period for planning proposals (other than with respect to minor proposals). 

Other changes that were sought by the Greens in particular, were not passed.  They included placing ‘ecologically sustainable development’ as the principal object of the Bill, and a requirement that private certifiers be appointed by the Building Professionals Board. 

The significance of the amendments has led The Honourable Brad Hazzard, Minister for Planning to announce in the Legislative Assembly on 29 November 2013 that the Government has decided to defer debate of the Amended Bill. As a result, no vote in the Lower House will take place until March 2014 at the earliest.

Bartier Perry will continue to monitor the progress of the Planning Bill throughout the Government’s consultation process.

Author: Dennis Loether