NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Streamlining major project assessment

The department has prepared ready-made assessment requirements to make state significant development (SSD) clearer and more efficient and allow resources to be focused where they are most needed.

The streamlined secretary’s environmental assessment requirements (SEARs) apply to SSD applications that:

  • are wholly permissible
  • do not meet thresholds for designated development
  • are not a concept development application.

The criteria are intended to capture developments that are consistent with their underlying land use zoning and that have impacts that are predictable, well understood and can be mitigated.

Instead of preparing SEARs on a project-by-project basis, industry-specific SEARs have been prepared upfront in consultation with government agencies. They are tailored to common types of SSD and may be issued for eligible projects without the need for a scoping report.

This allows the department and agencies to focus time and effort on preparing project-specific SEARs for projects with greater environmental risks, or that seek to depart from existing land use controls, such as concept proposals or partially prohibited development.

Industry-specific SEARs improve the clarity, consistency and certainty of assessment requirements for the most common types of SSD, while continuing to ensure these projects are subject to a comprehensive assessment in accordance with government plans, policies and guidelines.

They also require applicants to engage with councils, the local community and key agencies while preparing their Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), consistent with the department’s community participation objectives.

Industry-specific SEARs have been prepared for the following types of development:

  • development within key sites and identified precincts
  • commercial premises or residential accommodation within a rail corridor or associated with railway infrastructure
  • residential development by or on behalf of the Land and Housing Corporation
  • warehouses and distribution centres
  • hospitals, medical centres and health research facilities
  • schools
  • tertiary institutions, including universities and TAFEs
  • theatres, cinemas, and music and concert halls
  • convention and exhibition centres
  • information and education facilities, such as museums, art galleries and libraries
  • hotels
  • build-to-rent housing
  • data storage centres
  • correctional centres and complexes
  • seniors housing
  • cemeteries
  • large-scale solar energy development.

For more information on the Rapid Assessment Framework, including commencement dates and transitional arrangements, refer to the planning circular (PS 21-005).

Page last updated: 09/11/2022