Giving more people in NSW the opportunity to put a roof over their heads, more housing choice and greater affordability is a priority for the NSW Government.
The Department of Planning and Environment (the department) has an important role in unlocking land for new housing, whether through state-led rezonings, assessing planning proposals in limited circumstances, high-level strategic planning or working closely with councils.
The department has launched the Rezoning Pathways Program (the program) to deliver and support strategically important rezonings, supporting home ownership by enabling a continual pipeline of housing supply across NSW.
Under the program, the department has created 2 pathways for planning proposals to benefit from state involvement – state-led and state-assessed.
The department will identify sites for state-led rezoning and will pilot a process for industry to nominate rezoning proposals that could be state-assessed if they deliver:
- more than 1,000 dwellings in metropolitan NSW
- at least 300 dwellings in regional NSW.
Funding comes from the NSW Government’s $2.8 billion Housing Package, and will be used to undertake technical studies, stakeholder consultation and strategic planning needed to make decisions about state-led rezonings within the next 2 years.
The department will continue to provide support to councils where needed for council-led rezonings.
Determining a rezoning pathway
The department taking the lead will occur in limited circumstances. This could be where there are strategically important places that align with state infrastructure investment, sites involving a ‘step-change’ in land-use or intensification, or places requiring resolution of complex planning, infrastructure and stakeholder issues.
There are 2 rezoning pathways where the NSW Government takes a lead role for current and potential projects;
State-led rezoning – when the department leads a rezoning in large geographic areas or in precincts of state significance.
State-assessed planning proposal – when the department assesses a planning proposal of state significance or regional environmental planning significance.
There are 4 key criteria the department uses to assess and determine the rezoning pathway for a proposal. The criteria cover:
- how well the proposal demonstrates public benefits, including through housing supply, and alignment with state policies and land use strategies
- an assessment of the proposal’s contribution to affordable and social housing outcomes
- how well impediments to delivery are understood and whether there is a pathway to resolution
- if infrastructure is available, or if funding is committed to fund critical infrastructure.
An assessment panel will make recommendations based on the 4 criteria on which candidate sites are appropriate for a state-led rezoning or state-assessed planning proposals. The panel will consist of senior departmental staff and subject matter experts. An external probity advisor will also participate on the panel. The department may also invite suitable independent industry professionals to provide expertise.
In the course of reviewing sites, where a state-led rezoning or state-assessed planning proposal is not suitable, the panel may also identify proposals that could benefit from additional support being provided to the relevant local council to progress the planning proposal. Sites that demonstrate strong alignment with the criteria and have complex issues to work through with multiple agencies and other stakeholders are more likely to be recommended for a state-led rezoning.
Sites that demonstrate strong alignment with the criteria and are considered to have state significance or regional environmental planning significance, and have been nominated by a private proponent are more likely to be recommended for the state-assessed planning proposal pathway.
The Minister for Planning and the Minister for Homes will retain the discretion to recommend, or otherwise, the making of the associated State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) or Local Environmental Plan (LEP).
Frequency of assessments
The department will invite applications for suitable candidate sites to be evaluated through the program when departmental resourcing permits.
Further details about a pilot process to select projects that may be suitable to progress under the state-assessed planning proposal pathway are outlined below.
The department is not currently accepting any applications for the state-led rezoning pathway.
State-assessed planning proposal pathway
In December 2022 the department invited industry to apply under the pilot application process for the state-assessed planning proposal pathway.
To apply, applicants were required to meet the following eligibility requirements for their project:
- Not in the planning system: The project is not the subject of an active planning proposal lodged in the system.
- Readiness to lodge: The applicant must undertake to formally lodge the planning proposal with the department via the Planning Portal within 2 months of being notified that the project was approved to proceed as a state-assessed planning proposal.
- Minimum dwelling threshold: The project must demonstrate that through the rezoning it will enable at least:
- 1000 residential dwellings in Metropolitan NSW, or
- 300 residential dwellings in Regional NSW
- Comply with relevant planning legislation, policies and section 9.1(2) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 Ministerial Directions.
In addition to confirming eligibility, applicants were required to answer questions aligned to the 4 key criteria listed under the “determining a rezoning pathway” section.
Applications for the pilot closed on 22 January 2023. The department is not currently accepting any further applications for the state-assessed planning proposal pathway. Outcomes from the selection process will be communicated in writing directly to applicants.
For further information about the pilot nomination process, please refer to:
- State-assessed planning proposal pathway – amended and restated guideline(PDF, 309 KB)
- State-assessed planning proposal pathway guideline – Addendum 1 (PDF, 354 KB)
If you have any further queries about the state-assessed planning proposal pathway please contact us [email protected].
Probity and reporting outcomes
Probity controls will be applied by the department and a probity advisor will be engaged for each assessment process to ensure assessments are undertaken in a manner that is fair and transparent.
The department will publish any new state-led rezonings or state-assessed planning proposals on the department’s website and publicly report on the progress of candidate sites as they move through the rezoning process.
Core principles of the program
Self-governance – the department will play a role where it provides significant and meaningful public benefits and aligns with state policies and land use strategies.
Transparency – the department will implement strong probity measures to provide greater transparency and confidence in how it makes decisions that commit state resources and funding.
Criteria-based assessment – the department will commit resources where candidate sites demonstrate a strong focus across 4 key criteria.
Housing-focused – priorities and pathways will be determined by how well a candidate site meets the assessment criteria, the complexity of issues, the extent of planning activities completed, timeframes for rezoning, strategic importance and the geographic scale of the site.
Clear delivery pathway – the implementation of each rezoning pathway is defined with clear outputs, indicative timeframes and governance procedures.
Flexibility – the criteria and approach are flexible and can adapt to the evolving priorities of the government of the day.
Delivering state-led and state-assessed rezonings
This program builds on existing rezonings already underway.
The interactive map shows the state-led rezonings delivered since 2019 and the pipeline of state-led rezonings and state-assessed planning proposals the department is continuing to deliver.