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Full speed ahead for faster planning assessments

01 Jul 2021

The planning system will be faster, easier to use and more transparent thanks to the delivery of a raft of new reforms aimed at improving the assessment of State significant projects.

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s Group Deputy Secretary of Planning and Assessment, Marcus Ray, said major projects were an important economic driver and that’s why NSW needs a predictable and fast planning system.

“The new Rapid Assessment Framework will slash end-to-end assessment times for major projects like hospitals, warehouses and schools by at least 21 days, by making the process easier for everyone involved,” Mr Ray said.

“To do that, we’re rolling out industry-specific requirements that have been pre-prepared by the Department for major project applications to speed up the process by being upfront about what we expect and giving us better quality applications to assess.

“We’re leveraging our digital systems to roll out these changes and improve transparency and the customer’s experience of the planning system.”

Mr Ray said the Rapid Assessments Framework will provide clear, upfront guidance on the Department’s expectations on what is needed for an applicant’s environmental assessment, to cut time out of the process.

“The package includes new guidelines on cumulative and social impact assessment that will ensure communities are involved from the earliest stage of the process, and there is a robust technical assessment leading to better planning outcomes on the ground,” Mr Ray said.

“We’re also updating the rules for the requirements for applications, so they automatically expire after two years. This is to make sure we get the best, most recent and relevant information to assess and for the community to have its say.

“It’s the most significant improvement to the major projects system in the last decade and will make the planning journey easier for everyone.”

The Rapid Assessments Framework was on public exhibition from December 2020 to February 2021 and includes:

  • Efficient processes to make lodging an application faster;
  • A comprehensive set of guidelines;
  • Pre-prepared industry specific requirements for applications;
  • A two-year limit on the expiration of specific requirements for applications; and
  • The introduction of a new quality assurance scheme for planners conducting environmental assessments.