Urgent comments needed on proposed Planning Legislation – September 2013

Dear community members,

The NSW Government is making final changes to its disastrous new planning legislation before its introduction to Parliament in approximately  6 -8 weeks time.  The NSW Planning Bills are so far off the mark that NO amendment to these Bills will be  acceptable.   These Bills need to be scrapped and re-written  if NSW is to have an excellent planning system .

NOW is the time to call your local MP and ensure they understand that the Minister’s changes have NOT ‘fixed’ the Bills!.

Background:  On 19 September 2013, Minister Hazzard announced the following changes to the NSW Government’s planning reforms:

  1. Councils will be allowed to modify the state-wide codes to better reflect their local area
  2. Code assessable development will only apply in nominated growth areas
  3. The target for code assessable developments has been removed entirely
  4. Councils will be required to prepare Neighbourhood Impact Statements before using code Assessment
  5. The full range of current land zonings will remain as they are
  6. Appeal rights will remain as they are
  7. Local and state heritage protections will continue

At a lecture at Sydney University Planning Research Centre September 26 2013 Minister Hazzard repeated some of these points.  Members of the audience had the opportunity to ask the Minister questions at the conclusion of his talk . Not all were convinced .

Suggested  Points:

  • The Minister’s changes lack the detail necessary to enable a full assessment of their nature, significance and implications.
  • Communities have not been briefed about these changes.
  • In relation to the proposal to restrict code-assessable development to nominated growth areas,  there are serious issues of fairness associated with creating two classes of residents: the first, in low density areas, who will have the right to comment on most developments in their neighbourhoods; the other, in ‘nominated growth areas’ who will have no right to comment on most developments  built next door.
  • It is essential for all new housing in growth areas to be of high design quality and reflect input from people who live next to them. Code assessable development – ie. ‘tick-the-box’, no-consultation development – is unlikely to achieve that.
  • The changes will not address the range of concerns raised by numerous and diverse organisations.  These include (but are not limited to):
    • The lack of balance between economic, social and environmental considerations- The Government has not committed to retaining the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development (particularly the Precautionary Principle) as a key component of the planning legislation.
    • The significant risks of corruption raised by the Independent Commission Against Corruption, associated, amongst other things, with the broad discretion conferred on decision makers.
    • The range of mechanisms for overriding strategic planning processes, including Strategic Compatibility Certificates, developer-initiated rezoning proposals (which include review rights for developers but not for community), the declaration of state-significant development and the broad Ministerial power to amend any strategic plan, without any community consultation.




The NSW Planning Bills will be brought back for consideration in February, 2014 following a number of amendments in the Legislative Council. The Trust lobbied successfully with the State Government to amend the draft planning bills to give heritage protection a higher profile through a specific NSW Heritage Policy. The objects of the Act now refer to “heritage”, appeal rights are retained, code assessment for State Heritage listings and local heritage and Heritage Conservation Areas was no longer mandatory.

The Trust had deep concerns that local government could utilise code assessment for development affecting local heritage and Heritage Conservation Areas and notes that an amendment has removed “Code Assessment” from the legislation. The Trust had also strongly objected to a recent amendment to the Mining State Environmental Planning Policy that gave economic considerations higher priority than conservation and welcomes an amendment which nullifies this. Another issue of deep concern to the Trust was a provision in the legislation that allowed major modifications to already approved State Significant Developments, such as massive tower development increases or mine expansions, without adequate new impact assessment. This provision has also been removed from the legislation.


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