In brief

21 March 2011

The current NSW Minister for Western Sydney, David Borger, has publicly canvassed cutting the number of Sydney councils to six (the comments are reported here).

In response Barry OFarrell said there would be no merger of any NSW councils unless the move has community support, but there would be financial incentives to those that volunteered to merge. “Our overriding principle is that amalgamation of councils should only be as a result of mutual agreement, and not forced by state government intervention,” Mr O’Farrell said. His full comments are available here.

The NSW Government has amended the State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing for Seniors or People with a Disability) 2004 to remove a provision which expressly allows a consent authority to refuse to grant consent to a development application, in spite of a compatibility certificate issued by the Director-General of the Department of Planning. There is also a new requirement for the consent authority to take into account the aims of the SEPP (which are supportive of housing for seniors and people with a disability). Some similar changes have been made to the Affordable Housing SEPP and the Infrastructure SEPP. The amending instrument is here.

The NSW Department of Planning has released a circular advising of the recent amendments to planning appeals as a result of new legislation rushed through Parliament last year.  Amongst the changes is a reduced statutory limitation period for merit appeals – down from 12 to 6 months.  This is a partial win for the Urban Taskforce, because it waters down original 2008 legislative changes that would have reduced the appeal period to 3 months.  More information is here.

Minor amendments to State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 have been made. The NSW Department of Planning Circular is here.

A new Coastal Protection Regulation 2011 has been made to support recent legislative changes. There are now new statutory provisions allowing landowners to carry out emergency coastal protection works under certain conditions. Among other things the regulation relates to the categorisation of coastal hazards in relation to land in the coastal zone, and the inclusion of this information in (section 149) planning certificates. The governments media release is here. More information from the Department is here.

The NSW Department of Planning has placed a discussion paper on exhibition that considers the inclusion of certain types of signage, such as business identification signs, in the General Exempt Development Code of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008. This is a step forward – at least in relation to sales signs on development sites – because it will overcome some of the excessive restrictions imposed by councils such as Ku-ring-gai. Nonetheless, there are still significant problems with the proposal. Please contact us if you have any feedback. The closing date for submissions is Friday 6 May 2011. More information is here and the discussion paper is here.