NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Development controls and approvals

Development controls in a council’s local environmental plan (LEP) and development control plan (DCP) need to be kept up-to-date and as simple as possible so people can understand what development is permitted on a site.

Councils will be required to do a LEP check at least every five years to assess whether the LEP is still fit for purpose given any changes in population, infrastructure, strategic plans and other key indicators. This check may prompt some updates to the LEP, or it may find that a comprehensive review is needed.

There are currently over 400 different DCPs across NSW which vary significantly from council to council. The Government will establish a standard, online format for DCPs drawing on new model provisions to be prepared by the Department.

Why will Councils be required to review their LEPs?

The LEP check is required to assess whether any external or local circumstances may require significant changes to the LEP to be made over time. This could include changes to demographics in an area, infrastructure and services, the economic structure of an area, environmental factors or regional, district or local strategic plans.

Why is the standard format being introduced for DCPs?

The standard format and use of model provisions will improve consistency across local councils and make it quicker and easier for people to navigate the planning system and its controls. This will help to achieve significant cost and time savings for planning system users, by simplifying the processes to find and navigate the relevant provisions of DCPs.

More efficient approvals from NSW agencies

NSW Government agencies often have a role in providing advice or approvals where development has the potential to affect the environment, infrastructure or public safety. This can add delays to the assessment process.

New reserve powers for the Planning Secretary will provide the opportunity for the Department to ‘step-in’ and negotiate blockages and delays in the provision of approvals, concurrences or advice from NSW agencies. These powers will be used sparingly and will be only be able to be used where an agency has not met statutory timeframes or where two agencies give conflicting advice.

Why are the new reserve powers for the Planning Secretary being introduced?

Councils and applicants have expressed concerns that development applications referred to NSW agencies for advice or approval often experience delays in receiving a response, or that responses from different agencies are contradictory. This is a reserve power which will be exercised in line with the statutory requirements of the relevant agency.


Changes to require the regular LEP check will begin as part of the staged approach with the Department to prepare criteria and guidance material during 2018 and work with councils to implement the change in late 2018.

The introduction of a new standard online format for DCPs will also be implemented in stages and will take longer to implement as it will require further consultation with councils on the standard template, development of guidance material, building the online platform in the planning portal and a regulation to enable a standard DCP.

The changes to the new reserve powers for the Planning Secretary will be available from mid-2018 to enable a new online concurrence and referral system to be introduced.

To read more about the changes to the Act see Part 4 – Complying development.

Page last updated: 04/10/2022