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In this section, you will find our answers to the questions most commonly asked during this process.

The questions have been submitted in person at the recent Information Sessions, or to our project team by email, and have come from councils, environment and community groups, industry, peak bodies and individuals.

If you would like to ask anything further, please email the team at

The draft Bill is on exhibition until 31 March 2017, after which we will carefully consider all submissions and produce a Stakeholder Feedback Report, so that all interested parties will know how the issues they raised have been considered.

Thank you for your time and contribution to this process.

In the draft bill currently on exhibition, the changes to the objects are mainly to update their language. They also introduce new objects promoting good design in the built environment and the sustainable management of built and cultural heritage.


Some stakeholders have proposed that additional objects be included, such as the promotion of health, safety and amenity, or a specific object on climate change. Other stakeholders have commented on particular aspects of the wording or structure of the proposed objects.


The Department encourages stakeholders to include comments or suggestions on the objects in their submissions. These will be considered as we develop the final bill.

The proposed new object, ‘to promote good design in the built environment’, formally recognises the role of design in the planning system, both in strategic planning and development assessment.


Objects can be a relevant consideration for decisions made under the Act and the proposed object with sit alongside the other objects of the Act, such as facilitating ecologically sustainable development and promoting the proper management of land and resources.


The design object will be supported by policies and actions to promote good design across the planning system. As a starting point, the Office of the Government Architect recently released a draft policy for discussion, Better Placed. It proposes principles for good design and directions for promoting design excellence. The Office will continue to consult with the community, industry and councils throughout 2017. 

Under the local government legislation, each council must prepare a community engagement strategy when developing its community strategic plan. The strategy identifies relevant stakeholder groups in the community and the methods the council will use to engage those groups.


A community engagement strategy under local government legislation would also be able to serve as the community participation plan under the proposed changes the EP&A Act. This would minimise duplication for council, and could be easier and clearer for community members.


To take this approach, the council would need to make sure the engagement strategy meets the requirements of the EP&A Act to the extent that it relates to planning matters. For example, the council would need to have regard to the community participation principles in the EP&A Act when preparing its engagement strategy.

Transitional arrangements will give councils enough time after the passage of the legislation to prepare their community participation plans. 


The Department will also prepare a model plan to help councils design their own.

Under the draft bill, this requirement would apply to all development applications and all applications for modifications. 


Consent authorities will be able to design Statements of Reasons so that the explanation is proportionate to the scale and complexity of the proposal.


The reasons will be able to draw on the assessment report, and need not be too long. For example, in the approval of a simple Development Application, the Statement of Reasons may simply note that the proposal complies with the controls and no objections to it were raised.


The Department will develop guidance material and templates to help consent authorities design their statements of decisions.

The proposal allows councils to use to use their discretion in determining the most appropriate means of notification (e.g. on their websites or in a newspaper).  


The Department will be looking at moving towards online notification of decisions (including reasons for decisions) as part of the review of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000. This would be facilitated through the NSW Planning Portal. 

It is the decision itself that can be challenged or appealed. The statement of reasons is setting out the basis for that decision would not be something separate in and of itself that could be challenged.

The community strategic plan under the local government legislation is the highest level of strategic planning undertaken by a local council. It identifies the main priorities and aspirations of the community across all topic areas, including the environment, culture and economic development.


Many councils already have land use strategies or conservation and development strategies that feed into their community strategic plan.


Under the current proposals to amend the EP&A Act, local strategic planning statements will complete the hierarchy of strategic land use planning in the Act. The Act already provides for regional and district level strategic plans. The local statements would set out the land use vision, priorities and actions for the local area. 


A land use strategy developed by a council to inform its community strategic plan may already perform the same functions as the local strategic planning statement. If so, it could be published as the local strategic planning statement under the Act. The council would need to check that it formally meets the requirements in the EP&A Act. 

The standard format will be prepared in collaboration with councils and other stakeholders, to achieve consistency of format while accommodating local content.


A likely option is a menu-based approach that sets a standard structure but allows councils to choose the topic areas relevant to their communities.


The Department is keen to receive feedback from councils and other stakeholders about what currently works well.

No. The powers and resources proposed in the draft bill – including the ability to suspend work for up to seven days to investigate a complaint about a complying development - are intended to help councils respond to enquiries and concerns from members of the community.


It is not expected that councils scrutinise all complying development certificates in their LGAs. Instead, councils should take a risk-based approach to enforcing complying development rules and standards. For example, the council may choose to focus on risk factors such as instances of complying development in sensitive areas, or in response to complaints or concerns from surrounding residents. 

The draft bill allows regulations to set out the kinds of complying development that can only be certified by council certifiers. No such categories are proposed at this time.


The Department is keen to hear views on when this restriction might be appropriate and will work with stakeholders to refine the proposal before making any regulations.

Under existing legislation, a proponent of complying development can be required to pay a local infrastructure contribution. However, there is no mechanism for complying development to make special infrastructure contribution (SIC) payments or for a VPA to be entered into in relation to complying development. By contrast, a proponent making a development application can be required to pay a local or special infrastructure contribution, or may enter a VPA that delivers or funds infrastructure.


This is an inequitable approach to infrastructure funding, in which contributions are dependent on the approval pathway, rather than the impact of development.


The proposed legislative changes will enable contributions to be levied on complying development through SICs or VPAs.

This section provides that functions conferred under another Act on council staff are taken to be conferred on the council itself, and that a person must not delegate a function to the general manager without the council’s approval (and the general manager’s approval if the delegation is to another employee of the council.) 


The proposed power is not in conflict with the framework in the local government legislation. 


This is because the Minister’s direction would not itself create the delegation to council staff. Instead, it would be a direction to the council setting out when the function of determining applications is to be exercised by a delegate of the council.


The manual will bring together all the important information about complex buildings in one place to assist with maintenance and compliance checking. The manual won’t be required until regulations are made. 


The Department will work with stakeholders to determine what the manual should contain and the right platform to deliver it. Further consideration will also be given to the manual as part of the Government’s response to the statutory review of the Building Professionals Act.

The draft bill contains a new certificate for the completion of building work that won’t be occupied but still needs checking (see proposed s 6.4(e)(i) on page 57). These certificates will be an alternative to an occupation certificate when the work is finished.

The legislation currently requires a construction certificate to authorise the commencement of subdivision works like site grading. The draft bill proposes a new subdivision works certificate to deal more specifically with subdivision works, with no change to the current requirements for obtaining one. The regulations will continue to deal with the process for obtaining a certificate.

Who will determine whether a condition in an environmental protection licence, mining lease or other instrument is similar enough to a condition of the development consent to be ‘transferred’ to the licence, lease or instrument?

The consent authority will determine this.

No. The change simply enables to the Planning Assessment Commission to have access to the panel's expertise when determining a development application. The panel will continue to assess the agricultural impacts of State significant mining or coal seam gas (CSG) proposals located on Strategic Agricultural Land before a development application is lodged.

Page last updated: 26/07/2017