NSW Government announces $83 million Planning Reform Action Plan

In the next stage of the Government's planning reforms in response to COVID19, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced an $83 million Planning Reform Action Plan.  From faster DA assessments to a new class of appeals to the Land and Environment Court, this article gives a snapshot of the Plan.


The Planning Reform Action Plan follows announcements including the government's Planning System Acceleration Program and Planning Delivery Unit which together target and bolster the development and construction industry against the economic downturn associated with COVID19.  The following matters are amongst those that are considered as part of the Planning Reform Action Plan.

Faster assessments

Part of the Plan includes the Faster Assessments Program, which aims to reduce developer holding costs and administrative costs involved in preparing development applications. To create a more efficient planning system, the Program will purportedly result in the following reductions on decision times:

  • Rezoning decisions reduced by 191 days (33% time saving);
  • Decisions on development applications for larger, regionally significant projects reduced by 91 days (25% time saving); and
  • Decisions on major projects of significance to the NSW reduced by 20 days (17% time saving).
Further, the NSW Government has invested $10 million to improve its ePlanning platform, to ensure all councils can use the online system to process development applications, in an attempt to reduce development application processing times by more than half.

By 1 July 2021, all councils throughout NSW will be required to have adopted the online system.

Complying development

Reforms are proposed to broaden the categories of complying development, particularly in employment areas, where development is viewed as low impact.

This will increase the range of projects that can be signed off by a Council or private certifier without being required to go down the development application pathway.

Notably, complying development does not require the same notification and community consultation requirements that the development application process does.

Planning Proposal appeals to the Land and Environment Court

Following the NSW Government's announcement to appoint two new Commissioners to the Court in an attempt to reduce matter timelines, the Planning Reform Action Plan proposes a new class of appeals for planning proposals that seek to 'spot rezone' Land with a view of this appeal stream acting as a 'circuit breaker' to reduce delay in their assessment.

More information is to come as to how this class of appeals will be established and managed in the Court.

While the Planning Reform Action Plan provides an indication of the focus areas for the NSW Government, more information is required to understand how all of these changes will be implemented, how existing and future projects will be impacted, and how local government authorities will be supported through the reforms.

Our Planning and Environment team can provide you with guidance on what these changes mean for your existing or future development projects. Get in contact today to ensure you receive updates in this area as it develops.


Katharine Huxley Associate
Lachlan Hallab Law Graduate