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Making and amending LEPs

Making and amending local environmental plans (LEPs) starts with a planning proposal, which describes the outcome and justification for an LEP amendment. It is the key part of the process for making an LEP, as set out under Division 3.4 of the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

We review planning proposals through the gateway process and, if we support them, may publicly exhibit proposals. The gateway process ensures effort is invested at appropriate stages, that technical information is sufficient, and that our consultation with authorities, government agencies and the community is informed and effective.

The planning proposal is ultimately assessed by the local plan-making authority, after exhibition and once submissions have been received. The authority may be the Minister for Planning (or the minister’s delegate) or local council, depending on the type of LEP change. The local plan-making authority then makes a determination (decision). If the planning proposal is supported, the LEP is made and the department notifies the public.

Benchmark timeframes

Benchmark timeframes outline the maximum time each stage of the process is expected to take.

The process will be faster if: 

  • each proposal is managed actively
  • processes, procedures and systems for assessing proposals are improved continually
  • there is more open and upfront engagement with agencies and key stakeholders.
Note: Department target of 380 working days is measured from Stage 3 - Stage 6 (inclusive).
StageMaximum Benchmark Timeframes (working days)
Stage 1 - Pre-lodgement30 days50 days60 days20 - 30 days
Stage 2 - Planning Proposal80 days95 days120 days40 days
Stage 3 - Gateway determination25 days25 days45 days45 days
Stage 4 - Post-Gateway20 days50 days70 days160 days
Stage 5 - Public Exhibition and Assessment70 days95 days115 days95 days
Stage 6 - Finalisation25 days55 days70 days80 days
(Department target)
140 working days225 working days300 working days380 working days
Total (end to end)220 days320 days420 days420 days
Categories of planning proposals

There are 4 categories of planning proposals:

  • Basic - minor LEP changes for administrative and minor matters
  • Standard – an LEP amendment for a specific site seeking a change in planning controls that is consistent with the existing strategic planning framework
  • Complex – a complex LEP change that may not be wholly consistent with the existing strategic planning framework, and/or types of LEP changes that are not defined as Basic or Standard
  • Principal LEP – comprehensive LEP change progressed by council and/or a proposal that includes multiple housekeeping changes.

More information

Initiating and prepare a planning proposal?

A proponent or council can initiate a planning proposal. In certain circumstances – particularly when it is of state significance – the Minister for Planning may initiate an LEP amendment.

Only the council for the local government area to which the LEP applies, or a person or body directed by the Minister for Planning, can prepare a planning proposal and submit it to the department for gateway determination.

The body responsible for preparing and progressing a planning proposal is known as the planning proposal authority.

Planning proposals initiated by council

A council may initiate an LEP change or new LEP by drafting a planning proposal and submitting it to the department for gateway determination.

A flowchart showing the process for preparing and submitting a council-initiated planning proposal.

Planning proposals initiated by a proponent

A landowner, developer or an individual seeking to change the zoning or development standards that apply to land they own or have an interest in may initiate a planning proposal.

The necessary information for the proposal is prepared by or on behalf of the landowner with the help of specialist consultants. It is submitted to the relevant council for consideration and assessment through the NSW Planning Portal.

The relevant council (or planning proposal authority) must support the planning proposal before it is submitted to the department through the NSW Planning Portal for a gateway determination.

A flowchart showing the process for preparing and submitting a proponent-initiated planning proposal.
Viewing and tracking planning proposals

You can review and track the progress of a planning proposal through the NSW Planning Portal.

The department notifies the public of an approved LEP change at NSW legislation. We generally publish these LEP notices on a Friday, but we can arrange urgent or delayed notices in certain circumstances.

Process for making an local environment plan

We describe the process for making an LEP below.

Stage 1 – Pre-lodgement

A council or proponent should take care to scope a proposal before preparing it. This will make engagement with council, authorities and government agencies more effective.

Proponents should refer to the scoping proposal template when preparing and submitting a scoping proposal to council.

Council should refer the scoping proposal to the relevant authorities and government agencies in keeping with the agency pre-lodgement referral criteria.

After reviewing the scoping proposal, council should hold a pre-lodgement meeting with the proponent and issue written advice including planning proposal requirements. The purpose of this advice is to confirm if the proposal has strategic and site-specific merit to progress to a planning proposal and to identify the supporting information necessary for assessment.

Note: A proponent may still lodge a planning proposal with council, despite any views expressed by council during the pre-lodgement stage.

For planning proposals it leads, a council should consult with the department (where relevant) and initiate any key agency consultation to support the proposal.

Stage 2 – Planning proposal

Proponent initiates planning proposal

The proponent, in seeking an LEP change, may lodge a planning proposal with the relevant council through the Planning Portal, after receiving pre-lodgement advice.

Council will assess the proposal and form a view as to if it has strategic and site-specific merit. This may include referral to a local planning panel. If council supports the proposal, council will submit it to the department for gateway determination.

Council initiates planning proposal

A council may draft a planning proposal to amend or initiate an LEP and submit it to the department for gateway determination.

When preparing a planning proposal, proponents and councils should refer to Part 2: The Planning Proposal of the LEP Making Guideline, which details the matters any planning proposal must address.

Planning proposals must be submitted using the department’s Planning Portal.

More information

Rezoning Review

The rezoning review process allows a proponent to request that an independent planning panel evaluates if the proposal should progress to gateway determination. This can only happen after the proposal has been lodged with council and council has:

  • notified the proponent in writing that it does not support the proposal
  • failed to indicate its support for the proposal within 90 or 115 calendar days (depending on the planning proposal category) of the proponent lodging it
  • failed to submit the proposal for gateway determination within 28 calendar days of indicating support.

All rezoning reviews should be initiated through the Planning Portal.

The planning panel will review the proposal and make a recommendation to the minister as to whether it should be submitted for gateway determination.

Rezoning review fees

Submission of a rezoning review request: $20,000 (assessment and referral to Panel/Commission).

Where a planning panel or the Secretary is appointed as the planning proposal authority: $25,000.

More information

Stage 3 – Gateway determination

The gateway determination is a checkpoint for a planning proposal to review strategic and site-specific merit and whether the planning proposal should proceed to public exhibition. 

The department will undertake a review of the proposal. This includes:

  • a high-level check of the planning proposal to ensure the package meets the minimum administrative requirements
  • a strategic merit assessment of the proposal against relevant district plan, regional plan, LSPS, section 9.1 Directions, SEPPs and any department endorsed local strategy
  • an assessment of potential environmental, social, economic, and infrastructure impacts of the proposal
  • obtain high level advice and guidance from the department’s legal team or PCO (where required)
  • seek agency advice and/or comments, where required or where an authority or government agency has not consulted at the pre-lodgement stage
  • review proposed community consultation and expected timeframe for the proposal.

We prepare an assessment report and provide a recommendation to the Minister for Planning (or delegate) on whether the planning proposal should proceed. 

The minister (or delegate) will issue the gateway determination, which will specify:

  • whether the planning proposal is supported to proceed or not
  • any necessary technical studies or supporting studies 
  • whether the planning proposal needs to be amended (and possibly resubmitted to the department) prior to exhibition
  • required community consultation
  • required consultation with state or federal authorities
  • whether a local contributions plan must be exhibited at the same time as the planning proposal 
  • whether a public hearing is needed
  • the timeframes within which the various stages of the process for making of the proposed LEP are to be completed
  • whether the council is to be authorised to make the proposed instrument as the local plan-making authority
  • any other conditions.

The purpose of the gateway determination is to ensure early in the process that there is sufficient strategic and site-specific merit for the planning proposal to progress. A gateway determination that specifies the proposal should proceed, does not guarantee that the proposed LEP will be made.

The gateway determination may identify the requirement for any additional information, revisions, studies, or targeted consultation to occur with authorities or government agencies and other stakeholders prior to public exhibition. It may also identify that a revision needs to be considered by the department prior to exhibition.

The planning proposal authority is responsible for ensuring the required matters are completed prior to the public exhibition of the planning proposal. 

Gateway review

A proponent, or council when it is the planning proposal authority, may request that the Minister (or delegate) alter a Gateway determination.

Specifically, this review may be requested when a Gateway determination:

  • States the planning proposal should not proceed,
  • Requires that the planning proposal should be altered and re-submitted to which the proponent or council thinks this should be reconsidered, or
  • Imposes conditions (other than consultation requirements) in the Gateway determination or imposes conditions that requires variation to the proposal, for which a proponent and/or council thinks should be reconsidered.

A planning proposal authority may at any time request the gateway determination be varied and re-issued. Councils should contact us to discuss any concerns about the determination before deciding to request a formal review. For some routine matters, a gateway determination may be altered without the need for a gateway review.

A gateway review must be requested within 42 days of gateway determination or lodge intention with 14 days and make a formal request within 42 days of intention.

We confirm whether a gateway review is eligible and that all information is provided. We then prepare an assessment report for the Independent Planning Commission (IPC).

The IPC reviews the proposal and provides advice on whether the gateway determination should be altered.

The minister (or delegate) then makes a decision to alter or refuse gateway determination.

More information

Stage 4 – After the gateway determination

The gateway determination may identify the need to undertake additional studies, require consultation with authorities and government agencies and/or require amendments to the planning proposal prior to public exhibition.

This stage is an opportunity for the planning proposal authority to ensure that any gateway conditions are actioned prior to public exhibition of the planning proposal.

Stage 5 – Public exhibition and assessment

This stage occurs according to the conditions of the gateway determination. The determination will specify the duration and extent of public exhibition required.

The recommended maximum period of public exhibition for planning proposals are as follows:

  • Basic – 10 working days
  • Standard – 20 working days
  • Complex – 30 working days
  • Principal LEP – 20 working days

Requirements for notification are described in the Local Environmental Plan Making Guideline (PDF, 4.7 MB).

The planning proposal authority must respond to all issues raised during the exhibition period and provide a summary that details the issue, the planning proposal authority response and whether the planning proposal will be amended and resolved to finalise.

If the planning proposal is proponent initiated, then the proponent should respond to any issues raised in submissions received.

Stage 6 – Finalisation

As the planning proposal progresses to finalisation, the proposed LEP is drafted and made.

If council is the local plan-making authority

Council prepares instructions for Parliamentary Counsel to draft the LEP and issue opinion that the LEP can be made. Note: the department will draft LEPs for map-only amendments.

We review maps and confirm they are consistent with the planning proposal.

Council resolves to make the LEP and issue it to us for notification.

If the department is the local plan-making authority

We review the finalisation package and prepare instructions for Parliamentary Counsel to draft the LEP and issue opinion that the LEP can be made. We consult with the council/planning proposal authority during this process.

We prepare a finalisation report and make recommendation to the minister or delegate to make the LEP and issue it for notification.

Once the plan is made, it is notified on NSW legislation.