NSW Land and Environment court Going Slow – More Resources Needed

The Land and Environment Court in NSW is taking far too long to resolve planning disputes and the government must allocate more resources, says the Urban Taskforce.


“Many developer members of the Urban Taskforce are finding long delays in getting hearings and ultimately judgements in the NSW Land and Environment Court.” says Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson. “Many councils have become anti-development across Sydney and can take an excessive amount of time to determine an application or in many cases simply do not make a determination. With high holding costs applicants often have to use the deemed refusal provisions in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act to appeal to the Land and Environment Court for a judgement, but decisions are now taking 18 months or more due to a lack of resources.”


“A quick comparison between the NSW Land and Environment Court (NSW LEC) judges and commissioners and the equivalent Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), demonstrates that Victoria has many more judges and commissioners than the NSW equivalent. VCAT does have hearings on a wider range of matters, but most developers find the VCAT system reasonably efficient for Planning and Environment disputes. The opposite is true in NSW where the court process can take 18 months.”


“While the NSW courts encourage an arbitration between the parties at a Section 34 conference these often do not resolve the issue and the applicant must wait another 6 months for a hearing.”


“Some of the delays in the L & E Court are due to the NSW Government from to the spate of challenges to the compulsory acquisition of property related to state infrastructure projects as well as challenges to strata renewals resulting from the NSW government’s Strata Schemes Development Act. So the combination of these issues with the more negative approach to development from councils has increased the L & E Court workload but staffing numbers have not changed.”


“The Urban Taskforce believes the NSW Government must allocate more Judges and Commissioners into the Land and Environment Court even if they are acting over the next few years to enable the supply of new homes in Sydney to match the market needs.”


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