Amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 commence tomorrow

28 February 2018

Many of the amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 passed by the NSW Parliament last year will take effect tomorrow on 1 March 2018.

The most obvious and immediate change will be the structure and numbering of the Act, with other amendments subject to savings and transitional provisions which will be contained in (yet to be released) amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000.  A table cross referencing the existing section numbers of commonly used provisions in the Act with the new section number is available here.

On 1 March 2018, the following amendments will take effect:

Transitional Arrangements re Part 3A Projects
  1. Existing transitional arrangements for former Part 3A projects will end on 28 February. If environmental assessment requirements are required for a modification application and they have been issued before 1 March, project proponents will have one year to lodge their environmental impact statement. All future modifications to these projects will be assessed under the State significant development or State significant infrastructure approval pathways which means that the narrower “substantially the same” test will apply, instead of the broader test currently available under the former section 75W.
Local Planning Panels
  1. Local Planning Panels will be mandatory for all councils within Greater Sydney and Wollongong and responsible for determining any development application which is not capable of being determined by council staff under delegation.
Publication of Reasons by Local Planning Panels
  1. The publication of written reasons for decisions of Planning Panels will be required from 1 March 2018 and for all other decisions of Councils on all new applications from 1 July 2018.
  1. The Minister for Planning will have a new power to direct the methodology used by councils when entering into voluntary planning agreements.
Additional objects of Act
  1. Three new additional objects of the Act will promote:
    1. good design and amenity of the built environment;
    2. the sustainable management of built and cultural heritage (including Aboriginal cultural heritage); and
    3. the proper construction and maintenance of buildings, including the protection of the health and safety of their occupants.
Internal review of DAs re certain development
  1. Internal review of development application decisions will now be available for council decisions about integrated development and decisions of Department of Planning staff decisions about State significant development.
Enforceable Undertakings
  1. Enforceable undertakings will be available to the Department and councils as a compliance measure for people acting on a development consent and an alternative to the traditional options of a fine or Court prosecution.
PAC is now the IPC
  1. The Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) will now be known as the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) with changes to its hearing process to be implemented later in the year.

There are a number of other amendments which will have a delayed commencement including the introduction of community participation plans, local strategic planning statements and a new standard online format for development control plans.

The Government has provided a guide to when they estimate these additional amendments will commence, after they are the subject of further guidance and consultation with stakeholders. We will keep you up to date with individual amendments as they commence.

For further information, a general guide to the amendments has been published by the Department of Planning and Environment and is available here.

This article was written by Jane Hewitt, Partner and Danielle Le Breton, Special Counsel.

Jane Hewitt

P: +61 2 9334 8639


Danielle Le Breton

P: +61 2 9334 8408


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