NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Concurrence and referral reforms

The NSW Government is building a faster, simpler more efficient planning system.

As part of this, we have stripped out unnecessary requirements when preparing development applications.

This has involved removing 236 separate requirements for advice or agreement from other agencies – known as concurrences and referrals.

The changes simplify planning rules so development applications can be processed more simply and faster. This work is part of the NSW Government’s Planning Reform Action Plan and aims to cut the number of referral requests by 25% over the next few years.

Applicants are required to consider a range of impacts like traffic, bushfire risk, pollution, infrastructure needs and building design and safety when preparing a development application.

To make sure these are considered properly, proponents are sometimes required to seek advice or agreement from a range of other NSW Government agencies, or between councils. These requirements are known as concurrences and referrals.

What are the changes?

1. The changes amend or remove 236 concurrence and referral requirements

To speed up the system and avoid unnecessary delays, the NSW Government has stripped out requirements that have been made redundant. The changes are detailed in the Summary of concurrence and referral changes (PDF, 951 KB) document.

Changes to the concurrence and referral provisions in 16 SEPPs and 16 LEPs will:

  • remove some provisions, resulting in less concurrence and referral requirements
  • replace some concurrences and referrals with alternate requirements that achieve equal or better outcomes
  • refine some concurrences and referrals so they only apply to development proposals requiring case-by-case review.

The updates are to existing state environmental planning policies (SEPPs) and local environmental plans (LEPs), and came into effect from 26 November 2021 via the SEPP Amendment (Miscellaneous) 2021.

We developed these changes in consultation with key councils and authorities who respond to concurrence and referral requests.

2. Requests must now be lodged via the NSW Planning Portal

As part of the changes, all requests must now be lodged and processed using the NSW Planning Portal.

This includes requests for:

  • integrated development applications
  • concurrence
  • statutory referrals seeking advice or other response.

This requirement came into effect from 26 November 2021 via the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Consultation, Concurrence and Approval) Regulation 2021.

What are the benefits of the changes?

The changes will help development applications and planning proposals to move through the planning system more efficiently. This will result in faster determinations and delivery of strategic planning and cost saving for proponents and planning authorities.

The changes will cut assessment timeframes and unnecessary referrals between councils and referral authorities such as government agencies. This will mean simpler, lower risk development applications can be assessed faster by council.

What is the Development Referrals Guide?

A Development Referrals Guide (PDF, 4.5 MB) has been created to help councils and applicants understand if a development application requires input from a referral authority – i.e. whether they need to seek concurrence, make a referral or apply for an integrated development approval.

The guide helps:

  • applicants navigate the integrated development, concurrence and referral process
  • applicants produce higher quality development application documents, leading to faster assessments
  • councils improve their understanding of which referral provisions may apply.

Download the Development Referrals Guide

More information

View the:

Phone the department's Information Centre on 1300 305 695 or if English is not your first language, call 131 450 and ask for an interpreter in your language.

Page last updated: 10/10/2022