The NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) has consolidated 45 State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs) and deemed SEPPs to align with the focus areas under the Minister’s new Planning Principles (Planning Principles).
- From 1 March 2022, the consolidation of 45 SEPPs and deemed SEPPs into 11 new thematic SEPPs commenced to align with the new Planning Principles.
- This is primarily an administrative consolidation and there are no material policy changes under the new consolidated SEPPs.
- The Planning Principles are designed to inform planning policy decisions in NSW under nine focus areas, rather than being a direct consideration for a consent authority when determining a development application.
Planning Principles establish clear focus areas
The Planning Principles aim to demystify the current planning system to support sustainable development and growth in NSW.
Released in December 2021, the Planning Principles seek to achieve climate resilience and sustainability through the following nine focus areas:
- Planning systems: A strategic and inclusive planning system for the community and the environment
- Design and place: Delivering well-designed places that enhance quality of life, the environment and the economy
- Biodiversity and conservation: Preserving, conserving and managing NSW’s natural environment and heritage
- Resilience and hazards: Managing risks and building resilience in the face of hazards
- Transport and infrastructure: Providing well-designed and located transport and infrastructure integrated with land use
- Housing: Delivering a sufficient supply of safe, diverse and affordable housing
- Industry and employment: Growing a competitive and resilient economy that is adaptive, innovative and delivers jobs
- Resources and energy: Promoting the sustainable use of NSW’s resources and transitioning to renewable energy
- Primary production: Protecting and supporting agricultural lands and opportunities for primary production
Climate change and connecting with Country are two key considerations under the Planning Principles, including encouraging the involvement of Aboriginal people in the design and delivery of planning policies that may affect them.
The Planning Principles apply through the existing framework of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act), with planning authorities considering the Planning Principles through:
- strategic and land use planning under Division 3.1 of the EP&A Act; and
- the preparation of state and local planning policies, including SEPPs made under Division 3.3 of the EP&A Act.
The Planning Principles are designed to inform policy decisions around planning in NSW at an early stage via the above avenues, rather than being directly considered by consent authorities (e.g. local councils) when evaluating development applications.
SEPP consolidation seeks to simplify the planning framework
On 1 March 2022, DPE consolidated 45 SEPPs and deemed SEPPs into 11 new thematic SEPPs to correspond with the nine focus areas of the Planning Principles discussed above.
The table at Attachment 1 below provides an overview of the SEPP consolidation and the corresponding focus area under the Planning Principles.
Provisions of the repealed SEPPs have been carried over into the new SEPPs as ‘chapters’. DPE has confirmed that the SEPP consolidation does not materially change the effect of the repealed SEPPs due to the application of section 30A of the Interpretation Act 1987 (NSW) to the transferred provisions.
Any redundant or outdated provisions of the repealed SEPPs have not been carried over to the new consolidated SEPPs. Some administrative amendments have also been made to update references to government agencies and old legislation.
References within existing legislation and policies to the repealed SEPPs will be deemed to be references to the relevant provisions of the new consolidated SEPPs.
Further reforms to come?
Legislative updates are planned to reflect the SEPP consolidation and local councils will be required to amend planning certificates issued under section 10.7 of the EP&A Act.
It is unclear whether further substantive reform of the NSW planning framework is on the horizon and it remains to be seen whether the Minister will introduce additional changes to support the sustainable development goals under the Planning Principles.