NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Lismore Flood Recovery Planning Package

Lismore was severely impacted by major flood events in 2022, damaging more than  6,000 properties in the Northern Rivers.

The NSW Government has released the Lismore Flood Recovery Planning Package to support the community as it rebuilds and get people safely in homes sooner.

The package makes way for faster and simpler planning pathways and introduces a new independent panel of experts to bring transparency, consistency and quicker recovery efforts.

The package will:

  • accelerate the approval of new homes and raising existing homes in parts of Lismore
  • support the delivery of the $800 million Resilient Homes Fund
  • strengthen and streamline decision-making.

Changes as part of this package of planning reforms include:

  • a complying development pathway for house-raising
  • a site compatibility certificate pathway to unlock safer residential land
  • a local planning panel to provide independent expert decision-making and advice on development applications and planning proposals.

These changes will support Lismore’s flood-impacted community recover quickly and help improve its resilience to floods in the future.

The Lismore Flood Recovery Planning Package will come into effect on 13 February 2023.

Complying development pathway for house-raising

The complying development pathway for house-raising in Lismore is a faster, simpler approval pathway to speed up appropriate development. This pathway will allow houses to be raised above the flood planning level where a site assessment has confirmed it is safe to do so, and get people safely into their home sooner.

Developments that meet a strict set of standards can be signed off through a complying development certificate by the council or a registered certifier, rather than needing to go through a full development application process.

This pathway will also speed up the rollout of the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation’s Resilient Homes Program, a $700 million program that includes funding to deliver house-raising for eligible home owners in the Northern Rivers region.

Eligibility to use this approval pathway will be restricted to:

  • properties that comply with the land-based exclusions in the NSW State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (such as critical habitat, wilderness areas and heritage items)
  • properties that have been assessed as part of the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation's Resilient Homes Package.

Complying development certificate applications for house-raising will also require:

  • a certificate of eligibility from the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation or the NSW Reconstruction Authority – home owners may register their properties with the corporation and, following an assessment, the corporation may issue a certificate that grants eligibility for the complying development pathway to ensure that only properties deemed to have a low flood risk are eligible to use the pathway
  • a certificate from a professional engineer certifying certain flood-related matters, including floor levels, materials, flood resistance and impacts on the flow of floodwater
  • compliance with all the relevant development standards for house raising as complying development that are included in Schedule 3 of the Lismore Local Environmental Plan 2012.

Site compatibility certificate pathway to unlock safer residential land

A site compatibility certificate will allow suitable land identified through the Resilient Lands Program to be developed for housing. The pathway will enable land to be subdivided and used for residential purposes, even if the existing rules would normally not support it.

This site compatibility certificate planning pathway will help unlock more land faster to deliver new homes in suitable areas and help move Lismore residents to safety sooner.

The provisions will not apply to sensitive lands, such as flood planning areas, conservation zones or areas with high environmental significance. Site compatibility certificates will be assessed by the department before being issued.

Who will the site compatibility certificate pathway be open to?

Only the Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation will be able to apply for a site compatibility certificate. This ensures sites are subject to a vetting process via the Resilient Land Program so that only appropriate land enters the site compatibility certificate pathway.

How will the site compatibility certificate pathway work?

The Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation will identify potential sites that may be appropriate for residential development.

The corporation will prepare assessment documentation to support an application for a site compatibility certificate. The department will set the documentation required.

Certificate applications must be submitted through the NSW Planning Portal, where they will be publicly available. The department will consult with Lismore City Council or the local planning panel, the NSW Rural Fire Service, if land is bush fire prone, and any other relevant agency during this process.

The department will then assess applications against a range of considerations before deciding whether to issue a site compatibility certificate.

What things will the department consider when it assesses applications for site compatibility certificates?

The department will consider a range of matters, including:

  • any comments received from Lismore City Council, the local planning panel or the NSW Rural Fire Service
  • the relevant regional plan
  • the suitability of development, considering the existing, approved and future uses of the site and surrounding land
  • servicing and infrastructure requirements
  • impacts on environmental values
  • environmental hazards and risks
  • flood evacuation and bushfire protection.
How will site compatibility certificates help speed up residential development?

Once a certificate has been issued, a development application can be submitted to Lismore City Council even if the land use would otherwise not be permitted or is inconsistent with development standards, such as minimum lot size.

Site compatibility certificates will allow residential development or residential subdivisions to be carried out on land where it is currently not allowed by the local environmental plan. This will only happen after the application has been thoroughly assessed under the site compatibility certificate process and the normal development application process.

I’m a member of the Lismore community. How can I have my say on development that goes through the site compatibility certificate process?

Northern Rivers Reconstruction Corporation will notify residents or owners of land adjoining sites where a site compatibility certificate has been issued. The community will also be able to have their say on these development applications once they are lodged with the council.

The site compatibility certificate process is intended to help Lismore recover from an extraordinary natural disaster by unlocking more land faster to deliver new homes in suitable areas and move Lismore residents to safety sooner.

Local planning panel for Lismore

The local planning panel will allow independent experts to make decisions on often challenging matters relating to the major developments and rezoning decisions that will encourage a faster and more certain recovery. The panel also allows the councillors of Lismore City Council to continue to focus on setting strategic direction and building community resilience following the February–March 2022 floods.

The local planning panel is a panel of independent experts and council or community representatives that determine development applications on behalf of the council. Local planning panels also provide advice on other planning matters, including planning proposals. Find out more about planning panels in NSW.

Who sits on the local planning panel?

The panel will include 4 members:

  • a minister-appointed chair with expertise in law or government and public administration
  • 2 independent experts appointed by Lismore City Council (from a minister-endorsed pool of candidates) with expertise in one or more of the following fields:
    • planning
    • architecture
    • heritage
    • the environment
    • urban design
    • economics
    • traffic and transport
    • law
    • engineering
    • tourism
    • government and public administration.
  • a community representative appointed by Lismore City Council to ensure local insights and knowledge are considered as part of the panel’s decision-making.
Why is the panel being set up for Lismore?

Lismore was severely impacted by catastrophic flooding events in 2022 and many people are still without a safe place to call home. The NSW Government is creating new planning pathways to speed up and improve the predictability of land and housing planning processes to support flood recovery efforts in Lismore.

More information

For more information and questions about the Lismore Flood Recovery Planning Package, contact our team at SystemsProductivity.Policy@planning.nsw.gov.au

Page last updated: 17/01/2023