The deadline for the preparation of community participation plans (CPPs) is fast approaching.
NSW planning authorities, including councils and State government agencies with key planning approval functions, are required to have prepared their first CPP before 1 December 2019. Council’s can alternatively opt to include the matters required in such a plan in its community strategic plan under the Local Government Act 1993.
CPPs aim to enhance community participation and engagement in planning decisions and processes. They are a new requirement under s2.23 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EPA Act) as inserted into the EPA Act when the Act was renumbered by the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment Act 2017.
CPPs are intended to provide a high-level overview of how and when a planning authority will undertake community participation when performing the planning functions specified in s2.21(2) of the EPA Act, namely:
(a) planning instrument functions under Part 3,
(b) development consent functions under Part 4,
(c) environmental impact assessment functions under Division 5.1 if an environmental impact statement is required,
(d) State significant infrastructure approval functions under Division 5.2,
(e) contribution plan functions under Part 7,
(f) any other function prescribed by the regulations.
They need to be prepared having regard to the community participation principles set out in s2.23(2) of the EPA Act, namely:
(a) The community has a right to be informed about planning matters that affect it.
(b) Planning authorities should encourage effective and on-going partnerships with the community to provide meaningful opportunities for community participation in planning.
(c) Planning information should be in plain language, easily accessible and in a form that facilitates community participation in planning.
(d) The community should be given opportunities to participate in strategic planning as early as possible to enable community views to be genuinely considered.
(e) Community participation should be inclusive and planning authorities should actively seek views that are representative of the community.
(f) Members of the community who are affected by proposed major development should be consulted by the proponent before an application for planning approval is made.
(g) Planning decisions should be made in an open and transparent way and the community should be provided with reasons for those decisions (including how community views have been taken into account).
(h) Community participation methods (and the reasons given for planning decisions) should be appropriate having regard to the significance and likely impact of the proposed development.
Schedule 1 of the EPA Act sets out mandatory minimum community participation requirements.
CPPs will be published on the NSW Planning Portal and councils will need to publicly exhibit their draft for a minimum of 28 days if not already.