Urbis Think Tank
More local but more complex plan making
Content provided by Tim Blythe
The NSW government’s recent repeal of the Part 3A ‘major projects’ component of the Planning Act has dramatically changed the approvals landscape required for major development projects.
The Part 3A pathway was an important mechanism used to drive major developments and one of its greatest powers was the ability to facilitate projects not permissible under a Local Environmental Plan (LEP). Accordingly, many rezoning proposals were avoided by utilising the Part 3A legislation.
The new arrangements mean that Councils now have a stronger voice in major development applications but more importantly with the repeal of Part 3A have far greater control of major projects where a LEP amendment is required. Council’s unwillingness to support a Planning Proposal to Gateway can stymie major projects.
With property development industry sentiment about doing business in NSW already at rock-bottom the devolution of greater powers to Councils is viewed by many as regressive.
In response to industry concerns and confusion about appeal pathways for rezoning proposals, the Department of Planning and Infrastructure has advanced an alternative process for ‘pre-gateway’ independent reviews of Council decisions. Released as draft guidelines entitled More local, more accountable plan making, the circular holds some promise in addressing the significant blockages and delays with rezoning applications.
Urbis has been working with various clients to propose important amendments to the draft guidelines to ensure that the reforms are effective and achieve their intended purpose. Key suggestions include:
1) The ‘eligibility requirements’ should be qualified to ensure worthy proposals are not disqualified from the pre-gateway review process
2) There needs to be clear timeframe targets for the pre-gateway review process.
3) The process should be fully transparent.
With the NSW planning system currently under the microscope (from various angles) it is hoped that the ‘pre-gateway’ draft guidelines are appropriately amended and knitted into a broader reform agenda to help deliver a planning system which increases certainty and provides far greater clarity for investors.