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Mandatory Local Planning Panels (commonly known as IHAPs) for all councils in Sydney and for Wollongong City Council from 1 March 2018.


The referral criteria and procedural requirements for Panels have now been set by the Minister.


The Department developed the referral criteria with two key objectives in mind:

  • ensuring LPPs focus on contentious and complex development applications and applications with the greatest corruption risk, while council staff continue to determine routine applications.
  • building flexibility into the criteria to reflect differences in the types of development and community expectations across local government areas.

On the 10 November 2017, the Minister approved targeted consultation with councils and other key stakeholders on the draft referral criteria and procedural requirements for Panels.


The majority of submissions raised concerns about the amount and type of development applications that would be captured by the criteria, and possible delays to assessment timeframes.


These concerns were taken into consideration and have resulted in some significant changes to the draft criteria including the removal of value thresholds as a criterion.


The final referral criteria and procedural requirements for both development applications and planning proposals are available to view below.


The Department will monitor the operation of these criteria, we also encourage councils to report back their experiences to ensure that Panels operate as intended and do not result in unnecessary delays in the assessment process. The Department will use this feedback to consider if further changes to the criteria are required. Thank you to all councils and stakeholders that provided feedback during the consultation process.


The Department has found that councils have constituted their IHAPs with a variety of different names which may cause some confusion in the community about the purpose of the panel. To address this, the Minister has made a direction requiring local councils to follow a standard naming convention for their panels. This direction is available to download below.


The Department welcomes further feedback on the implementation of this important change to the planning system.

Summary of Local Planning Panels Direction – Development Applications

Conflict of interest

Development for which the applicant or landowner is:

  • the council
  • a councillor
  • a member of staff who is principally involved in the exercise of council’s functions under the EP&A Act
  • a member of Parliament or
  • a relative of one of the above.

Contentious development

  • council’s approved submission policy triggers a referral or
  • for schedules 1 and 2 only — DA that receives 10 or more unique objections or
  • for schedule 3 only — DA that receives 25 or more unique objections.

Departure from development standards

Development that contravenes a development standard imposed by a planning instrument by:

  • more than 10% or
  • non–numerical development standards or
  • for schedule 3 only — more than 25% for dwelling houses, dual occupancies and attached dwellings.

Sensitive development

  • designated development
  • for schedule 1 only — Residential Flat Building, 3 or more storeys in height
  • for schedules 2 and 3 only — Residential Flat Building, 4 or more storeys in height
  • demolition of a heritage item
  • development for the purposes of new premises that will require:
    • a club licence or
    • a hotel (general bar) licence or
    • an on–premises licence for public entertainment venues
  • development for the purpose of sex services premises and restricted premises
  • DAs for which the developer has offered to enter into a planning agreement.

Note: the above summary is for information purposes only, please refer to the actual criteria set out in the Minister’s direction for full details of the criteria, including any exemptions.

The Minister has the power to direct which development applications are determined by Panels and which planning proposals are to be referred to it for advice.


The Government recognises that not all councils have the same levels of population or demand for development. As such, the referral criteria for development applications is applied with different thresholds for different councils.

  • Group A (Schedule 1) – most councils
  • Group B (Schedule 2) – councils that determined more than 1800 DAs and have a population over 200,000
  • Group C (Schedule 3) – City of Sydney.

Relevant documents

All other development applications are determined by council staff or the Sydney or regional planning panel. The value trigger for development sent to regional planning Panels increases from $20 million to $30 million on 1 March 2018. This means more development will be determined at the local level.

The behaviour and standards of Panel members are governed by a code of conduct. The code of conduct is a key tool in minimising corruption risk in the determination of development applications.


Download the Code of Conduct for Local Planning Panel Members August 2018 (PDF, 200KB).

The operational procedures help to ensure that Panels meet their obligations in the most efficient and effective manner.


Download the Local Planning Panels Direction — Operational Procedures (Pdf, 250.7 KB).

The Minister has set the remuneration for Panel members. Download the document below to view the remuneration.


Download Remuneration Determination — Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (Pdf, 58.8 KB) for members of local planning panels.

The Minister has issued the following direction in relation to a naming convention.


Download Local Planning Panels Direction – Naming Local Planning Panels (Pdf, 57.6 KB).

More information

For more information please contact the Planning Panels Secretariat on 02 8217 2060.


Page last updated: 05/10/2018