This paper canvasses the ongoing NSW planning system reforms. Foreshadowed by the NSW Coalition prior to the 2011 election, the reforms involve wholesale change to the planning system including the development of a new Planning Act. Reviewed in the paper are divergent comments from selected stakeholders on four key areas of the proposed reforms; these comments are too complex and extensive to be encapsulated in this summary. While a broad cross-section of stakeholders was selected, this paper does not purport to represent all stakeholder positions on the Green Paper. The O'Farrell Government plans to release a White Paper and Exposure Bill in due course.
In July 2012, the NSW Government released A New Planning System for NSW - Green Paper. This was in response to an Independent Review of the NSW Planning System published in May 2012. The Green Paper sets out a blueprint for establishing a simple, strategic and flexible performance-based planning system. Four fundamental reforms are proposed: effective community participation in strategic planning; a shift to evidence based strategic planning in terms of planning effort; streamlined development assessment; and integration of planning for infrastructure with strategic planning of land use. Encompassing these four reforms is the proposal to introduce substantial operational and cultural changes for planning practitioners at all levels.