Seniors living reforms reversed

10 August 2011

Following a major push by the Daily Telegraph, the NSW Government has reversed reforms relating to seniors housing made by the former NSW Planning Minister, Tony Kelly immediately prior to the last election.


Mr Kelly’s changes required that a local council or regional panel had to consider the aims of the Housing for Seniors or People with a Disability SEPP when they made a development assessment decision. They were also obliged to take into account, when making their decision, the fact that a site compatibility certificate had been issued by the Department of Planning. These changes placed a greater onus on councils to take the SEPP seriously, and reduced the likelihood that they could refuse consent, without good reason, when a compatibility certificate was in force. It also improved the chances of applicants of getting a successful outcome if they were forced to appeal to the Land and Environment Court.


The current Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard, announced a review of Mr Kelly’s changes following criticism in the Daily Telegraph. We responded with a media release (here). However, within 24 hours, Mr Hazzard announced that he would actually reverse the change altogether (i.e. the review was finalised within a day). The Government media release is here.  The change has now been published here.


This change means that a council (and the Land and Environment Court on appeal) is free to refuse consent to a development by reference to its own assessment of the compatibility of the development with the surrounding land uses, irrespective of the assessment made by the Department of Planning and Infrastructure when it issue a site compatibility certificate.