The time taken to assess NSW development applications will be dramatically cut as part of a package of planning reforms unveiled by the state government.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian outlined the new regime in a keynote address at a CEDA function on Wednesday saying recovery from Covid has to involve both public health and economic needs.
Under the Planning Reform Action Plan , rezoning decisions will be be done in six rather than 18 months, DAs for big regional projects will be cut by 91 days and decisions on major projects of state significance will be reduced by at least three weeks.
“We’re introducing these reforms and cutting red tape to really accelerate our ability to build more and develop more but also encourage private investment,” Ms Berejiklian told the function.
The plan also includes boosting the role of the Land and Environment Court, which will get two new commissioners and a new class of appeals.
As well, the planning department will work with councils and government agencies to accelerate whole of government precinct co-ordination.
Assessments will still be ‘rigorous’
The reforms weren’t about cutting corners, the Premier said.
“It’s not about speeding up what has to be done, so you can’t cut corners,” she said.
“It’s just making sure the assessment of each stage is done as efficiently as possible. Be assured our assessments are as rigorous as ever but we’re putting more energy into reducing blockages and dealing with obstacles as they come up to to make sure things are delivered in a timely way.”
Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said the plan was designed to create a more timely, certain and transparent planning system.
“This plan will cut unnecessary duplication of processes and boost resources in our assessment team, so that we can keep as many people in jobs and keep our state moving both now and in the months and years ahead,” he said.
Mr Stokes aid NSW government agencies were also on notice to reduce concurrence and referral cases and reduce cases that are outside statutory timeframes.
Planning Delivery Unit ‘new central point of escalation’
They’ll be supported in this by the Planning Delivery Unit, announced this month to help move planning projects through the pipeline.
The PDU, led by Liverpool City Council CEO Kiersten Fishburn, will act as a new “central point of escalation” with a focus on resolving issues in major DAs, state significant developments, planning proposals and precincts, and will be available for councils and developers.
Wednesday’s announcement comes after the government moved to an online ePlanning platforms which all councils will have to adopt by next July.
The premier said 48 out of the state’s 128 councils were currently on the platform, which would show every step of the process and where hold ups are occurring.
“The state government often gets blamed when something takes a long time but you might find it’s a particular council or a particular agency or a particular part of the system where the blockage occurs,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“Our ePlanning system means that the state government’s more accountable but so is every council.”
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