Local planning panels (LPPs) (formerly known as Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels or IHAPS) are panels of independent experts that determine development applications on behalf of Council and provide advice on other planning matters, including planning proposals.
Under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 local planning panels are mandatory for all Sydney councils, Wollongong City Council and Central Coast Council. Panels are put in place so the process of assessment and determination of development applications (DAs) with a high corruption risk, sensitivity or strategic importance is transparent and accountable.
The LPPs ensure increased probity and accountability in the planning system, safeguard against corruption and lead to better planning outcomes.
LPPs make decisions on sensitive, complex and high-value DAs that come before councils, with council staff, under delegation, still determining the more straight forward DAs.
The panels will help free up councils to focus on long-term strategic planning.
The panels consist of a chair and two independent experts appointed by council from a Minister-endorsed pool of independent, qualified people, plus a community representative.
Independent expert members are required to have expertise in one or more of the following fields: planning, architecture, heritage, the environment, urban design, economics, traffic and transport, law, engineering, tourism, or government and public administration.
Panel chairs are required to have expertise in law or government and public administration.
Community representatives appointed to a local planning panel are not required to have planning expertise. The role of the community representative is to ensure that local insights and knowledge are considered as part of the panel’s decision-making.
Councillors, property developers and real estate agents are ineligible to be panel members as this undermines the objective of having DAs determined by independent experts, depoliticising the assessment process.
The referral criteria for both development applications and planning proposals has been set by the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces.
These criteria will be continually monitored. Councils are encouraged to provide ongoing feedback on these criteria and the operation of their panels to ensure their ongoing success.
Complaints in relation to the procedure of an LPP meeting or the conduct of panel members are to be made to the relevant council.
Code of conduct complaints are to be dealt with under the Code of Conduct for Local Planning Panel Members, all other complaints are to be dealt with under council's routine complaints management process. The NSW Ombudsman can also accept complaints.
The Department is able to direct enquiries or complaints to the relevant authority for response and resolution.
Telephone, write or email to
Tel: 1300 305 695.
Postal address: GPO Box 39, Sydney NSW 2001.
Complaints made in this way will be recorded in the Department's Complaints Register.
If you are dissatisfied with the way in which council has handled your complaint you can request the Department to review the matter.
At any time, a customer can complain to external bodies such as the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), the Ombudsman, or the Audit Office of NSW.
If you have allegations of corrupt conduct, misconduct, or serious waste of resources, you are encouraged to approach these organisations directly.
Any comments or complaints in relation to the policies or procedures that govern the operations of LPPs across the state may be made to the Department.
Further information on the Department's complaint management process can be found under the About Us section of this website.
For more information please contact the Planning Panels Secretariat on 02 8217 2060
Page last updated: 21/02/2020