NSW Planning Reform is welcome but urgency is required now as construction slows down

The Urban Taskforce welcomes the announcement by the NSW Premier and Planning Minister Rob Stokes of reforms to the be-leaguered NSW planning system in the coming months. “Reforms to the planning system are desperately needed”, says Urban Taskforce CEO Tom Forrest.


“Housing approvals have declined 46 percent since 2016 and significant delays in strategic planning, development approvals and rezoning are deterring potential investment as it is simply just too risky to do business in NSW.


“It takes twice as long to have a DA processed in NSW as it does in Victoria and three times as long as in Queensland.”


“Recent decisions by the Independent Planning Commission have undermined trust in the consistency and transparency in decision making. The removal of caps on infrastructure contributions has added to the cost of new housing. The introduction of a plethora of levies including Special Infrastructure Contributions,

Value Capture Policies, Voluntary Planning Agreements and affordable housing contributions have all increased costs and risk, resulting is a shortage of housing supply and rising house prices.


“The Land and Environment Court is packed with litigation, causing delays up to 12 months to get a hearing as councils refuse to make decisions.”


“A series of ad-hoc ‘reviews’ and plans by the Greater Sydney Commission has further created an uncertain regulatory environment for the development industry. The focus on strategic planning by the GSC can only deliver limited results in a slowdown period but a focus on implementation, delivery and timely decision making on projects can bring back billions of dollars to the NSW economy, delivering extra supply of housing and jobs” Mr Forrest said.


In the latest ABS figures for Construction Work Done in the September quarter, NSW is behind Victoria on most counts including residential work done and total building work done per capita even though NSW has 1.2 million extra people.


Urban Taskforce CEO welcomed the recognition of the need for a thorough review. Although few details have been provided on reforms at this stage, a media release by the NSW Government states that the reforms aim to:


  • Cut red tape, increase transparency, reduce assessment time frames and make e-planning mandatory for metro councils;
  • Supercharge new hubs across NSW to ensure people can live in communities close to their work;
  • Fix the uncertainty of developer contributions to boost investment and;
  • Preserve our heritage, create beautiful public places and promote good design.


“The Urban Taskforce supports these objectives and looks forward to working collaboratively with Minister Stokes and his team deliver meaningful changes,” Mr Forrest said.



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