Legislation and planning instruments

The New South Wales planning and development assessment system is the means by which we manage our environment and use of resources.

The legislation

Planning and development is carried out under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000. The full text of legislation is available from the NSW legislation website.

Environmental planning instruments

Environmental planning instruments (State environmental planning policies and local environmental plans) are legal documents that regulate land use and development.

The plan-making system in NSW is set out in Part 3 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. The Act provides for members of the public to participate in planning decisions that will shape their community's future.

State environmental planning policies

How is a State environmental planning policy prepared?

  1. The idea for a State environmental planning policy is proposed.
  2. The Department of Planning & Environment prepares a draft for the Minister for Planning's consideration. We may then invite the public to comment on the draft.
  3. We consider any feedback from members of the public, which may be incorporated into the draft planning policy.
  4. With the Minister's and the State Government's approval, the planning policy becomes law and is published on the NSW legislation website.

View list of State environmental planning policies and proposed State environmental planning policies

Regional environmental plans

As part of improvements to simplify the State’s planning system, as of 1 July 2009, regional environmental plans (REPs) are no longer part of the hierarchy of environmental planning instruments in NSW. All existing REPs are now deemed State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs).

View list of regional environmental plans (deemed State environmental planning policies)

Local environmental plans

Local environmental plans guide planning decisions for local government areas. Through zoning and development controls, they allow councils to supervise the ways in which land is used. Development control plans, prepared in accordance with the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, are also used to help achieve the objectives of the local plan by providing specific, comprehensive requirements for certain types of development or locations, e.g. for urban design, and heritage precincts and properties. 

View more information about local plan-making

More information

The text of NSW planning legislation, including State and local environmental planning instruments are available on the NSW legislation website at: www.legislation.nsw.gov.au.

For maps relating to the various environmental planning instruments, or further information, contact the the department's Information Centre

Last Updated 21-May-2014