NSW 2021

7 September 2011

A new state plan, NSW 2021, has been released, alongside the budget papers. This publication is a “whole-of-government” planning document that sits above land use strategies such as the Metropolitan Plan for Sydney 2036. It is a 10-year plan to “guide” policy and budget decision making. It sets long-term goals and “measureable” targets, and outlines “immediate actions” that will help achieve its goals.

The plans says that “NSW’s population is expected to grow to over nine million by 2036 – an increase of 2.25 million people, with around three quarters expected to live in Sydney”. The plan sets an explicit target to increase the population of “regional NSW” by 470,000 by 2036.


The plan identifies housing as cost of living issue. It says that the government “will increase the supply of land for housing and provide incentives to help make housing in NSW more affordable and housing stock more appropriate for people’s needs”.


The plan aims to “facilitate” the delivery of 25,000 new dwellings per year for Sydney. The Department of Planning and Infrastructure estimates that 16,500 were delivered in 2010/2011 (way down on the 24,930 they had optimistically forecast). The Department is projecting that 20,000 extra homes will be built in 2011/2012 – a 21 per cent increase.


The plan identifies some priority actions relevant to the housing target:

  • Accelerate land release of 10,000 blocks by Landcom over four years to make it easier for home buyers to afford a home.
  • Continue to set dwelling targets for local councils outlined in subregional strategies.
  • Partner with local councils to ensure that targets for housing and growth and the priorities within the subregional plans and regional plans are reflected in relevant planning proposals and in local planning instruments (local environmental plans).
  • Provide regular forecasts of future dwelling production to infrastructure funders and providers to inform servicing, asset management and financial planning and delivery.
  • Establish a real-time reporting system and annual reporting on land supply and housing completion in relation to benchmarks and projected dwelling demand to inform Government.actions required to facilitate desired stock levels.
  • Prepare a Growth Management Strategy that will involve stakeholders and the property industry to ensure the rezoning, provision of infrastructure and release of land is timely and economically feasible.
  • Simplify and clarify the Home Building Act to minimise administrative burdens and costs relating to residential building work and to ensure a more efficient market.


The NSW 2021 plan includes a target to increase Sydney’s available green field “zoned and trunk serviced” lots to “always be above 50,000”. The government estimates that the current number is 72,555. They predict that this will fall to 69,000, presumably, on the assumption that more land will be fully developed than new land zoned and trunk serviced.


The plans says that it is a “target” to use planning policy “to encourage job growth in centres close to where people live and to provide access by public transport”. As part of this goal the government says it is committed to increasing the percentage of the population living within 30 minutes by public transport of a city or major centre in metropolitan Sydney. Priority action relating to this target include:

  • Deliver a metropolitan strategic planning framework which details housing and employment growth targets and key planning principles to facilitate the urban development required to increase employment and housing within public transport catchments.
  • Outline clear subregional local housing and employment targets to be delivered by councils through local land use plans.
  • Work closely with local councils and communities to deliver local land use controls that identify land use zonings and appropriate development outcomes to support the delivery of housing and employment targets in the metropolitan and regional strategies.


There’s been a response to the Urban Taskforce’s criticisms of the low-balled employment growth targets in the former government’s land use strategies. The employment growth target for the next ten years (1.25 per cent per annum) is closer to the recent historical levels of growth in NSW (although still poor by interstate standards). Oddly though, there is no “priority actions” set out in relation to development or building construction, in the section on employment growth.


In relation to the NSW Government’s planning review, the plan says that the review ill result in legislation in Parliament by “November 2012”. This effectively confirms our view that the legislation arising from the planning review will not commence until the first half of 2013, at the earliest.


There is also a new commitment to publish relevant planning decisions on the Department of Planning and Infrastructure’s website within five days. 


There is a promise to establish a new assessment procedure for all applications for development and infrastructure of state significance to ensure that 85 per cent are assessed and determined within four months.   (Of course, we might ask “within” four months of what? In the past, the Department has measured these things from when proposal ceases to be on exhibition, ignoring the many many months that can elapse between lodgement and exhibition.)


There will now be an annual stakeholder satisfaction survey to enable feedback on the NSW planning system.


The NSW 2021 plan is available here.