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NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
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The NSW Government has introduced a suite of reforms to deliver a better planning system for NSW, accelerate the delivery of projects, create jobs, and keep the economy moving.


Complying development offers the potential for fast-tracked planning pathways for low impact development. This means projects that meet strict construction and building standards may be approved faster by council or an accredited certifier.


The purpose of the complying development reforms is to:

  • provide a streamlined assessment pathway for job-creating development, where the environmental impacts are well understood and managed through development standards.
  • expand complying development provisions in employment zones to support existing and emerging business, such as data centres and circular economy, so that more activities can be undertaken without the need for a development application.
  • ensure planning and building standards will be such that they are able to be signed off by an accredited certifier.
  • support emerging and local business social and economic recovery.


The reforms are intended to support greater innovation by better tailoring assessment processes, reducing project delays, and making it easier to navigate the planning system.


Bringing business back

Four key areas have been identified through research commissioned by the department to encourage investment and job-generating development through strengthening complying development:


1. Enabling land use and business agility for retail, commercial and industrial development reducing barriers in utilising existing space.

  • Streamlining and reducing complexity
  • Consolidating recurring requirements
  • Apply to a wider range of land uses such as medical centres that don’t fit the current definition of commercial
  • Meeting the needs of business
  • Protecting the community.


2. Optimising opportunities for industrial and commercial development.

  • Revised/enlarged building form controls for industrial zones
  • A new commercial design guide and new building allowances
  • A masterplan pathway for council-led masterplans.


3. Neighbourhood centre activation, strengthening our increasingly important local networks.

  • New sub-division bringing together the land use and business agility improvements to neighbourhood centres
  • Pathways and development standards for community circular economy land uses including community swap, share, re-use and repair premises in local centres.


4. Streamlining the delivery of data centres to strengthen networks.

  • Bring forward investment in the rapidly growing data centre industry, and provide more resilience to disruptors, by providing a complying development pathway for low impact development
  • Provide operational requirements such as hours of operation, reduced car parking rates and flexible loading area controls
  • Specify technical controls to manage the unique noise, emissions, and hazard impact profile of this increasingly important land use.


Expression of Interest now open

We are inviting councils to participate in our planning reforms engagement program. This program is focused on the reforms of employment zones and will take place in February and April 2021. We also encourage planning, economic development, place managers, traffic and other referral teams and council certifiers to register to engage on these important issues.


The engagement program is now underway; however, late registrations are still welcome.


Register your interest

The engagement program is split into the four subject matter modules, as set out above. Each module will contain an online information session (webinar) and workshop(s). When registering your interest, you can opt-in for one or more modules.


For more information about the engagement program, please email the team.

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

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