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Proposed changes to NSW planning legislation will ensure clarity and prevent delays in the assessment and delivery of more than $8 billion worth of development applications.


The Department of Planning and Environment’s Deputy Secretary for Planning Services, Marcus Ray, said the proposed changes were necessary following the Court of Appeal’s decision in relation to the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct development application.


“The decision affects more than $8 billion worth major local, regional and state significant development applications under assessment or recently approved,” Mr Ray said.


“Our initial investigations estimate that delays because of this decision could have implications for the delivery of 14,500 homes across NSW – 9,000 in Metro Sydney and 5,500 in regional NSW.”


The Court’s interpretation of the Environmental Planning and Assessment (EP&A) Act highlighted the need for a clearer definition of a “staged development application”’ and to set out the level of detailed assessment needed at different stages of the application process.


“The Government proposes to amend the legislation so it is explicitly clear that staged development applications can include only a concept approval and a single subsequent detailed application. Construction impacts will be fully assessed before any work can start.


“This two-stage approach has become common practice in the development industry. The Government is simply making the legislation clearer to ensure the current pipeline of DAs worth $8 billion can proceed without delay.”


The Court of Appeal ruled last week that the development consent for the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct was invalid on the grounds that:

  • it was not a “staged development application” because it included a concept approval and proposed only one subsequent detailed development application (DA), instead of multiple detailed DAs; and
  • construction-related impacts need to be considered in the assessment of a staged application.


“Staged DAs tend to be for larger, more complex projects. A concept approval makes it clear what the high-level planning limits are for a development, including its use, shape and scale, and height which provides certainty to developers, financial backers, stakeholders and the community,” he said.


“Having multiple DAs when one would suffice would create time delays and additional costs to the applicant, with no commercial, technical or community benefit.


“It could slow down the assessment and delivery of large scale, major development by up to 12 months.”


These proposed changes to legislation will not affect the Court of Appeal’s decision for the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct.


The Department of Planning and Environment is inviting feedback on the proposed changes and submissions can be made until Monday, 24 July 2017.


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