NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Planning reforms

The NSW Government has introduced a suite of reforms to deliver a better planning system for NSW.

Work is underway to improve assessment time frames, reduce red tape, eliminate double-handling and fast-track projects that deliver great public benefits to the people of NSW.

The planning system will continue to be a key lever for the NSW Government as we respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic with particular focus on reforms that accelerate the delivery of projects that create jobs and keep the economy moving.

Progress update

A strong theme from our work throughout 2020 and into 2021 was the need for advance notice and clarity of what to expect from the department in terms of consultation on planning reform and other major program initiatives.

We are implementing a large policy reform program through the Planning Reform Action Plan and partnership with our stakeholders is critical to the success of our work.

To deliver on our commitment of providing regular updates throughout the Planning Reforms program, the department is releasing a Planning and Public Spaces Outlook on a quarterly basis, with the October edition (PDF, 3.7 MB) providing an overview of reform initiatives and other major programs of work for the upcoming six months.

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A review into the cemetery and crematoria sector has identified that Greater Sydney is running out of burial space. The review recommended that cemeteries be assessed as State Significant Development (SSD).

Aerial image of Merimbula looking onto Merimbula Bay. Merimbula, NSW. Photo by Jaime Plaza Van Roon / DPIE

We are reducing the number of applications that need concurrences and referrals and improving system efficiency to deliver faster decisions.

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Employment land strategies summarise the economic setting, barriers to growth and opportunities associated with employment land in a particular local government area.

Artist impression of people walking in streets.

Find out more about how we're building a better future for the state with a better planning system.

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Temporary changes to SSD thresholds for warehouses and data centres to facilitate these development types and support economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Apartment construction in in Wollongong NSW.

The Planning Delivery Unit works with councils, proponents and other parties to help unblock projects that get stuck in the planning system.

Freight train through Narrabri to North Star Inland Rail section.

Identifies and case manages projects with the potential to deliver a strong pipeline of investment, public benefit, growth and jobs.

Construction site, Sydney, New South Wales.

We’ve brought forward immediate reforms to the planning system to support productivity, investment and jobs during COVID-19.

A female building certifier inspects scaffolding on a building site. Photo by: NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment / Christopher Walters

Reforms to complying development, focused on employment areas, offer a fast-tracked approval pathway for straight forward developments.

Cafe and restaurants at Five Ways, Paddington. Photo by Destination NSW

The department is undertaking a reform program which includes the delivery of a simplified employment zone framework to support long-term economic recovery through job creation and encourage increased productivity in NSW.

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The Rapid Assessment Framework aims to deliver system improvements that increase the efficiency of major project assessments and speed up assessment timeframes.

Group of stakeholders collaborating on a project.

The department is developing new standard conditions which will provide greater consistency, alleviate pressure on councils and help speed up assessment timeframes.

Parklands in residential area at Gledswood Hills, South-West Sydney NSW. Photo by: NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment / Adam Hollingworth

$250 million will be made available to eligible councils to accelerate development applications and rezonings, meet local demand for housing and employment and deliver a lasting legacy of safe, quality open and public space.

Cyclists enjoying streets shared spaces.

The Your High Street grant program was launched in November 2020 to support councils across NSW to make permanent improvements to the amenity and functionality of their High Streets.

Young man researching on laptop. Image by Pexels / Oleg Magni

Under the Premier’s mandate, certain councils are required to commence the use of ePlanning Digital Services from 1 July 2020.