Councils are currently required to include in section 149 planning certificates (Planning Certificates) information about whether or not the land is affected by a council or public authority policy that restricts development on the property because of the likelihood of risks such as coastal erosion and tidal inundation.

Coastal councils in New South Wales have now been provided guidance by the Department of Planning and Environment (Department) in identifying coastal hazard risks affecting properties and providing that information in Planning Certificates.

The clarification of such information in Planning Certificates should be welcomed by vendors and purchasers alike.

For vendors, the identification of their property as subject to a coastal hazard risk can affect the property’s value particularly where the risk is a future coastal hazard risk only.  The distinction between current and future coastal hazards, now recommended by the Department to be made in Planning Certificates, may reduce this impact on value.

The provision of this information in Planning Certificates should also provide greater certainty to a prospective purchaser about the nature and timing of the coastal hazard risk.

Further information about coastal hazard risks in Planning Certificates

The Department has issued recommendations, in the form of a planning circular rather than as a mandatory requirement by way of an amendment to Schedule 4 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 (which sets out the information that a Planning Certificate must contain), that a distinction be made in Planning Certificates between current and future coastal hazard risks.

Examples of current and future coastal hazard risks provided in the Planning Circular are as follows:

  • Current – land that would be subject to beach erosion if a storm event occurred today.
  • Future– land that is not currently exposed to beach erosion but may become exposed to this risk if the position the shoreline changes over time.

The Planning Circular also recommends that:

  • a council only disclose information in Planning Certificates when it is satisfied that the information is accurate, complete and reliable.
  • if the relevant coastal study does not identify whether the hazard is a current or a future one, this should be clearly noted in the Planning Certificate.

Clarification of the nature and timing of coastal hazard risks in Planning Certificates in accordance with the Department’s recommendations should provide greater certainty to vendors and purchasers alike.