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NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
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Natural disasters can have a significant impact on homes across NSW, from bushfires and floods during the Australian summer to beach erosion caused by east coast lows.


Many people affected by these natural disasters face challenges in obtaining planning approvals for the rebuild or repair their homes due to changes in planning controls over time.


The NSW Government is committed to helping our communities recover after natural disasters.


The department is working with local councils to look for ways to future-proof our planning system by reducing barriers to development approval for applicants seeking to rebuild their homes after natural disasters.


A new clause for rebuilding and recovery

The department has developed an optional clause in the Standard Instrument (Local Environmental Plans) Order that will clarify consent can be granted for the purposes of repairing or replacing a dwelling destroyed or damaged in a natural disaster.


Councils will still be required to complete a merit assessment of the development, however the rebuild or repair cannot be refused based on any development standards in the local environmental plan (LEP).


This will save applicants time and money as they will not need to submit an application to vary development standards in order to get their development application approved.


View the Consultation Paper.


Councils can opt in

We have asked councils to submit their interest to incorporate the optional provision in to their LEP. Councils will also be able to nominate the relevant zones in their areas where the clause will apply.


The department will prepare an amending State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP), which will include the proposed clause in all participating LEPs, saving councils time and resources required to progress individual planning proposals.The clause will also become an optional provision in the Standard Instrument LEP Order. This means that councils who do not wish to express an interest in incorporating the clause into their LEP at this stage can progress their own planning proposal should they choose to incorporate the clause into their LEP at a later date.


Implementation approach: Optional clause for natural disasters

Stage 1: Exhibition 28 days

Councils to:
Provide feedback on the Optional Clause
- Express interest in incorporating the Optional Clause in LEP

Stage 2: Consideration and drafting

The Department
to review submissions and refine and finalise the Optional Clause

Stage 3: Opt-in by 15 February 2021

The Department to liaise with councils to confirm:
- Incorporating the Optional Clause in LEP
- The zones to which the clause will apply

Stage 4: Implementation

The Department
to prepare amending SEPP to incorporate Optional Clause in participating LEPs


What happens next?

Public exhibition for the proposed clause closed on 31 August 2020. The department reviewed and considered all submissions before proceeding with the following stages of implementation. For more information, please see our Planning Portal.


If you are a council that did not express interest in the optional clause, but you have changed your mind, please email our project team directly.


For more information, you can read our Frequently Asked Questions on Natural disaster recovery (PDF, 182 KB).


A copy of the final clause and guidance materials is available at our Planning Portal to assist with implementation of the clause, which have been distributed to participating councils.

Page last updated: 22/02/2021