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Community and business leaders have been appointed to Chair the Sydney
Planning Panels to help build on their strengths to make decisions on major
development proposals.


The Chairs will commence their roles today following a rigorous selection process.


The Department of Planning and Environment’s Executive Director of Regions, Steve
Murray, said the new Chairs will bring a high level of expertise to the panels.


“After careful consideration, the Sydney Planning Panels have been appointed new
Chairs, having demonstrated that they have the skills, experience and acumen that
makes them the top picks for the job,” Mr Murray said.


“The decisions made by the Sydney Planning Panels will be independent and based
on the merits of the proposals that are put before them.”


The new Planning Panel Chairs are:


  • The Hon. Carl Scully — Sydney Eastern City Planning Panel
  • Mr Justin Doyle — Sydney Western City Planning Panel
  • Professor Helen Lochhead — Sydney South Planning Panel
  • Mr Peter Debnam — Sydney North Planning Panel

    The new Chair of the Sydney Central Planning Panel is in the final stages of
    appointment and is expected to be determined in the coming weeks. In the interim
    other members of this Panel will act as the Chair.


    The five independent Sydney Planning Panels make decisions about significant
    development proposals in their region.


    The new chairs have been appointed because the roles of Sydney Planning Panel
    Chair and District Commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission have been separated.


    “The separation of these roles will allow the district commissioners to focus on
    setting the strategic direction for their district through the Greater Sydney
    Commission’s district plans,” Mr Murray said.


    “The new Chairs will also be able to focus entirely on the detailed development
    proposals that come before them for decision by the planning panels.”


    The appointments followed a comprehensive, state-wide expression of interest
    process and consideration of 70 applications by a selection panel.


    The planning panels are independent bodies that make decisions on significant
    developments and modification applications.


    Currently, the projects they assess are valued over $20 million but from the 1st March
    that threshold will be increased to $30 million.


    The panels also act as the relevant planning authority in some decisions when
    directed by the Minister for Planning or the Greater Sydney Commission, undertake
    rezoning reviews, and provide advice on planning and development matters when


    The Hon. Carl Scully — Sydney Eastern City Planning Panel

    A former minister of the NSW parliament, Mr Scully’s career spans more than 30
    years in the public and private sectors.
    He practised law for seven years before embarking on a 17-year political career. For
    almost 12 of those years he served in ministerial positions involved in the delivery of
    major infrastructure projects including the portfolios of public works and services,
    roads and transport, and housing.
    He returned to the private sector in 2007 where he has worked for WorleyParsons,
    most recently as director of International Business Development. In 2015, he was
    appointed as Chair of the NSW Mine Safety Advisory Council.


    Mr Justin Doyle — Sydney Western City Planning Panel

    Mr Doyle is a lawyer focused on planning and environment law, with 11 years’
    experience as a practicing barrister, and 10 years before that as a solicitor.
    He has been the lead counsel for a team of barristers acting for the Commonwealth
    Department of Infrastructure in cases on the land at Badgerys Creek to allow for the
    development of Western Sydney Airport.
    His work also includes land contamination issues and the redevelopment of the
    former James Hardie asbestos plant which includes negotiations with the
    Department of Lands and Parramatta Council.


    Professor Helen Lochhead — Sydney South Planning Panel

    For more than 20 years Prof Lochhead has combined university teaching with her
    practice as an architect specialising in complex large-scale projects
    She is currently Dean of the Faculty of the Built Environment at the University of
    NSW. Prior to that her career focused on the planning and delivery of major projects
    ranging from a five-year city improvements program for the City of Sydney to major
    urban regeneration projects.
    Prof Lochhead has extensive experience on university, government and industry
    committees, panels and boards, most notably as the National Board of the Australian
    Institute of Architects, Central Sydney Planning Committee, Sydney Harbour Design
    Review Panel and the NSW Heritage Council.


    Mr Peter Debnam — Sydney North Planning Panel

    Mr Debnam served as leader of the opposition of the NSW parliament as well as
    holding several shadow ministerial positions including shadow minister for planning
    and urban affairs and housing from 1997 to 1999.
    Before politics Mr Debnam had broad management experience starting with his
    military service followed by business development and general management in the
    aerospace and rural service industries. He completed an MBA in 1993.
    Since leaving politics in 2011, Mr Debnam has contributed to charities and not for
    profit organisations including as the Chair of NSW Kids in Need Foundation Limited,
    The Muscular Dystrophy Association of NSW, and the Advisory Board of Our Big
    Kitchen Limited.


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