Review of the NSW planning system

13 July 2011

The NSW Government has released details on its review of the planning system.

The review will be led by two former politicians:

  • Tim Moore, who served as Environment Minister in the Greiner Liberal Government; and
  • Ron Dyer, Minister for Community Services and, later, a Minister for Public Works in the Carr Government.

Both men are lawyers. They will jointly chair an expert panel. The names of other panel members have not yet been publicly released.


In announcing the review, the Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard, said that there was nothing more rotten than the way the former Government dealt with planning in NSW.


The community is crying out for change, he said.


According to a fact sheet released by the Department of Planning and Infrastructure today, issues likely to be examined include:

  • the role of any new legislation in regard to strategic planning, growth management and infrastructure provision;
  • the roles of state local government; and
  • how to get high-quality public participation in the planning system.


The Review will take approximately 18 months and be divided into three stages:

  • A listening and scoping stage to identify the key outcomes and principles for a new planning system (4 months). The panel will release a report which will be publicly released towards the end of this year.
  • The preparation of a discussion paper (a green paper) outlining options in regard to the future planning system and the basis of a legislative scheme (6 months).
  • The preparation of a white paper and draft legislation setting out the Governments new framework for the NSW Planning System. A bill is expected to go before Parliament in the second half of 2012. This probably means November 2012.


It seems that the inevitable delay between the passage of legislation and actual commencement of the new law does not form part of the 18 month time frame. Delays typically occur because of the need to prepare and amend regulations and environmental planning instruments following new legislation. Councils and the Department usually want time to train staff in new processes, and select people to be appointed to new decision-making bodies.


For example, the reform legislation for joint regional planning panels was passed by Parliament in June 2008, but the panels did not begin operating until their legislation commenced in July 2009. Even the legislation that passed through Parliament last month, formally repealing Part 3A, is unlikely to commence until August at the earliest.


On the most optimistic view, the earliest date for the commencement of new reformist planning legislation is likely to be in the first half of 2013.


In the Urban Taskforces view, serious problems with the status-quo are likely to emerge before this review is complete. We will be pressing for interim reforms – in order to prevent an exodus of capital from the urban development sector in NSW. We today issued a media release highlighting this view – spelling out issues for priority reform. Its available here.


The governments media release is available here. The Departments more detailed fact sheet on the reform process is available here.