NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Evaluation framework

LPP objectives and evaluation

Since 1 March, Local Planning Panels (LPPs), colloquially known as Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels (IHAPs), have been mandatory for all Sydney councils and Wollongong City Council.

The objectives of panels are:

  • better planning outcomes through greater expertise, independence, and probity in decision-making
  • faster decisions
  • improved capacity for councils to undertake strategic planning functions.

To determine if these objectives are being achieved, the department has established an evaluation framework that will monitor and report on panel performance. The framework is summarised with further details at IHAP Evaluation Framework (PDF, 293 KB).

As part of the evaluation framework, councils in the Greater Sydney region and Wollongong are to provide quarterly data reports to the Secretary of the department. This data will provide ongoing feedback on the operation of panels. To enter your council’s data, go to the NSW Planning Portal IHAPs Quarterly Report.

The evaluation framework

To identify and assess the early performance and impacts of panels, the department has established an evaluation framework for LPPs. This framework has been developed in consultation with councils, peak industry groups and the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), and with assistance from the University of Technology Sydney's (UTS) Institute for Public Policy and Governance.

The framework is designed to:

  • inform, after a reasonable period of panel operation, decisions about whether policy settings should be changed or adapted to better meet the objectives of the reforms
  • evaluate, after a longer period of operation, whether the panel reforms have met the LPP policy objectives.

The framework includes:

  • a program logic outlining the intended (immediate, intermediate, long-term and ultimate) outcomes of the reforms
  • an evaluation plan, outlining the evaluation questions, which data should be collected by the department and councils and how frequently this should occur.

The department is actively monitoring and evaluating the first 12 months of LPP operations and panel performance to ensure they are operating efficiently. The department aims to release the findings of the evaluation in two reports, a half-year report (which covers Quarters 1 and 2) and a yearly report, which covers the last two quarters (Quarters 3 and 4).

Full year report (April 2018–April 2019)

The UTS evaluation of the first twelve months of the panel operations concludes that panels are working well. The key findings indicate:

  • the implementation of panels has been successful and achieved objectives
  • the recruitment of specific expertise for LPPs has brought a high level of expertise and familiarity with planning controls to local planning decisions
  • panel reforms provide a consistent framework for decision-making while allowing councils flexibility around panel procedures
  • surveyed panel members and directors of planning reported that the panel process is operating well
  • surveyed chairs, experts, council directors of planning and community members express the view that panel reform objectives are being achieved
  • most (93%) determinations made by panels were consistent with council staff recommendations
  • the number of complaints has remained low, with no significant concerns across the year. It was identified that complaints were often about a council rather than the related LPP; and
  • Departmental support (guidance material, briefings, training sessions, newsletters) has been successful in strengthening the success of panel implementation and operations.

UTS has made 14 recommendations to improve the operations of panels and to provide for ongoing support, monitoring and evaluation by the department. The department has implemented several recommendations through guidance material and briefings. Other recommendations are matters for councils or will be considered by the department.

Half-year report (April–September 2018)

The first report presents the key findings of the evaluation of LPPs for the first six months of operations (April–September 2018), along with some recommendations and areas for consideration. The department has accepted all five recommendations.

The key findings and considerations from this report will support the Department's ongoing monitoring of LPPs, in line with the immediate objectives of the evaluation.

Appendix C and D are separate attachments and provide more detailed data in relation to Quarter 1 and Quarter 2.

More information

Contact the Planning Panels Secretariat on 02 8217 2060.

Page last updated: 23/01/2023