Under the proposed changes to the State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007 (ISEPP) small scale health infrastructure development is to be fast tracked.

On 20 November 2020 the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) announced proposed changes to the delivery of low impact health infrastructure such as community health centres, consulting rooms and ambulance facilities. These amendments are part of the NSW Government's Planning Reform Action Plan which has been introduced to create a more timely and transparent planning system to assist with the government's economic response to COVID 19.

Under the proposed changes to the State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007 (ISEPP) small scale health infrastructure development is to be fast tracked. According to DPIE "the proposed amendments seek to reduce costly project delays for small scale, lower impact projects… in NSW."

The proposed changes to the ISEPP include:

  • changes to clause 48 (development without consent for emergency services facilities) to allow for the development of an ambulance facility by or on behalf of a public authority, with a setback within 5 metres of the property boundary.
  • the expansion of clause 57(2) (development permitted with consent for health services facilities) by the insertion of a new use "health manufacturing". This would include the manufacturing of biological, pharmaceutical, medical or paramedical systems, goods or components within an existing health services facility.
  • changes to clause 58 (development permitted without consent for health services facilities) to:
  • permit the development of standalone health services facilities (such as medical centres, community health service facilities, consulting rooms and hospitals which are of a minor nature) within the boundaries of an existing health services facility;
  • increase the maximum height of development from 12m to 15m; and
  • permit setbacks from property boundaries to be reduced to 1m in any zone (except residential) for one storey buildings within the boundary of an existing health services facility.
  • changes to the complying development provisions so that:
    • new developments will not have to meet the general requirements of complying development for the removal or pruning of a tree or other vegetation if the tree is:
      • not a significant tree under a Council's significant tree register,
      • within 3 metres of the development; and
      • is less than 8 m in height.
    • additional conditions can be imposed on a complying development certificate permitting works to be undertaken outside of standard hours of construction but only for approved deliveries or in an emergency situation.
  • a new exempt development provision (clause 58 health services facilities) to permit the development of temporary construction shed used solely for the construction of a health services facility, carried out within the boundaries of an existing health services facility with development consent.

According to Felicity Greenway, Executive Director of State Policies and Strategic Advice at DPIE, the proposed changes are in response to the recent health pandemic:

"NSW Health is managing the biggest public health crisis in more than a century and these changes will help speed up the process in delivering upgrades to vital health facilities around NSW … The efficient delivery of these essential infrastructure projects will benefit the health and well-being of communities and local economies right across NSW, particularly those affected by the summer bushfires and the impacts of COVID-19.”

These proposed changes, if made, will facilitate faster rollout of small scale health infrastructure connected to existing facilities which are an important part of any pandemic response.

The amendments are currently on exhibition until Thursday 17 December and submissions can be made via the following link: https://www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/isepp-health-infrastructure