Discussion paper

The primary purpose of this package of updates to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) is to promote confidence in our state’s planning system.

This will be achieved through four underlying objectives:

• to enhance community participation;

• to promote strategic planning;

• to increase probity and accountability in decisionmaking; and

• to promote simpler, faster processes for all participants. The proposed amendments build on recent policy, operational and legislative improvements to the NSW planning system.

These include:

• Greater Sydney Commission: Within the Greater Sydney Region, the Commission is now responsible for preparing district plans, making a range of strategic planning and development decisions, and implementing A Plan for Growing Sydney.

• Strategic planning: A hierarchy of regional and district plans is now established in legislation, which must be implemented in local planning controls in the Greater Sydney Region, and can be switched on for other areas of NSW.

• ePlanning: The NSW planning database has been established as an electronic repository of planning information, and the NSW Planning Portal provides online access to planning information, tools and services.

• Enforcement: A new three tier offence regime is now in place, with substantial increases to maximum penalties for offences under the EP&A Act. This is supported by consolidated departmental and council investigative powers.

The proposed amendments also build on the significant work undertaken by the Government and stakeholders in 2013 to identify improvements to the planning system. At that time, the Government proposed a range of reforms set out in the Planning Bill 2013 and the White Paper: A New Planning System for NSW. The current proposals outlined in this paper build on areas of agreement from 2013 and the subsequent improvements. They are the next steps in promoting confidence in the NSW planning system.

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