NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Regional Housing Flying Squad

Some councils, especially those in regional areas, are experiencing a shortage of qualified planners. Under-resourced councils have reduced capacity to assess development applications (DAs), meaning longer assessment times, fewer DAs determined and delays in the delivery of regional housing.

The NSW Government is boosting the capacity of councils to speed up assessment times and deliver much-needed housing in regional NSW.

The Regional Housing Flying Squad Program was initially launched in April 2022. It is a free resourcing program for all 96 regional councils that allows them to outsource the assessment of certain housing DAs to a team of planners in the Planning Delivery Unit.

The third round of expressions of interest for the program opens on 13 March and closes 24 March 2023.

The program has been adjusted to offer monthly intakes for single dwellings and dual occupancy DAs. The quarterly intake will continue for all other residential DAs. Councils can nominate eligible DAs to be considered for the program.

Apply now

Further expressions of interest intakes will open until June 2024. Councils can find out more information on the Planning Portal.

We are committed to growing and supporting regional NSW by ensuring the right homes are ready to go in the right places.

Pilot program

The Regional Housing Flying Squad initially launched as a pilot program in April 2022.

All 96 regional councils were eligible for the program if they demonstrated that DAs would support the delivery of housing in regional NSW.

In just three months from April to June 2022, 103 development applications entered the first round of the program. The 103 DAs will result in the assessment of more than 2,400 homes.

Across 21 councils, the pilot program is on track to assess:

2,420 homes


$487m worth of capital investment


103 DAs


Regional planner incubator

The Regional Housing Flying Squad will contribute to long-term solutions for the regional planner shortage through its ‘incubator’ program, which will see graduates and students with no planning experience train alongside experienced planners while building connections with regional councils that will hopefully lead to regional employment opportunities and filling planning vacancies in regional councils.

The flying squad will serve as a training and launching pad for new planners, while maintaining an experienced assessment team to focus on delivery.

Offices for regional council staff

The Planning Delivery Unit enables regional councils to recruit planners from all over the state without them needing to leave home through CoPlan Spaces.

CoPlan Spaces is a free program that provides up to 50 workstations in our department offices across NSW for regional councils to base new planning recruits. Workstations are available to councils for free in our offices in Armidale, Broken Hill, Gunnedah, Moree, Newcastle, Orange, Parramatta, Queanbeyan, and Wollongong.

Visit the Planning Portal for more information and to book a workplace.

Page last updated: 01/03/2023