NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Kaldas review of decision-making in the planning system

Over the last few years, the NSW Government has introduced major reforms to the NSW planning system. All have been aimed at delivering greater transparency and efficiency, to bring certainty and trust of the planning process to the people of NSW.

The reforms are significant in that they:

  • Strengthened the role of the Independent Planning Commission (formally the Planning Assessment Commission) to bring a high level of independence, expertise and transparency to the assessment and determination of significant applications in NSW.
  • Introduced the most significant overhaul of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 since its inception almost 40 years ago. The changes reflected the Government’s commitment to thriving and well-designed communities with local character and heritage.
  • Made Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels (IHAPs) mandatory for all councils in Sydney and the Wollongong City Council to further guard against corruption and lead to better local planning decisions. IHAPs bring expertise, transparency and integrity to the assessment DAs of significant value in local council areas.
  • Established the Greater Sydney Commission to drive a strategic planning focus for the Greater Sydney Region – making Sydney a more productive, liveable and sustainable place to live and work.
  • Modernised the Joint Regional Planning Panels to strengthen decision-making on regionally significant development applications and other planning matters.

It is timely after these reforms to review the integrity of decision making and undertake a holistic review of governance across the planning system. The review:

  • Confirms that the recommendations of the 2018 review of the IHAP framework are being implemented; and
  • Identifies areas for improvement to ensure best practice against international standards, including in interactions between levels of government.

Nick Kaldas, former NSW Deputy Police Commissioner and Director of Internal Oversight Services for the UN’s Relief Works Agency, was engaged to undertake this governance review of decision-making in our planning system.

The NSW Government has accepted all 19 of the recommendations made in the review, including the creation of a new Ethics Unit, mandatory probity checks for all IHAP members including community representatives, and an infrastructure contribution audit.

Refer to the Ministerial media release and the full report for more information.

The terms of reference can be found below.

To find out more about the Review or if you have relevant information to share, please contact us.

Terms of reference

The Review is to inquire into and make recommendations in relation to the decision making governance framework in the New South Wales Planning system.

The Review is to:

1. Assess the structure and governance of the planning system in NSW;

2. Consult with stakeholders and identify governance issues that they feel require consideration or which risk the integrity of the system;

3. Consider interstate and overseas planning and other administrative systems to ensure that relevant best practice options are considered for inclusion in New South Wales;

4. Consider the interactions between the NSW planning system’s governance and agencies, other government agencies, and other levels of government;

5. Consider technological solutions to governance challenges;

6. Identify actions, procedures, processes or steps that could or would:

  • improve the integrity of the system; or
  • improve the visibility of the integrity of the system.

7. Consider any other matters that the Reviewer reasonably considers should be included and that is not otherwise dealt with in the above.

The Reviewer is to provide:

  • An interim report to the Secretary by 30 September 2018; and
  • A final report by 30 November 2018.

Page last updated: 01/02/2023