Since 1979 development in NSW has been regulated by the NSW Planning Act. This uses Local Environment Plans (LEPs) and Development Control Plans (DCPs) to control and guide new development. These plans have been prepared by the local Council.
However, the Act does not stop developers lodging opportunistic development proposals that propose buildings that do not comply with an LEP or DCP. These are known as Planning Proposals or Spot Rezonings. More and more of such proposals are being approved by state government appointed planning panels.
Last year, the State Government initiated another planning process to sit between the state strategic plans and a Council’s LEP. This is known as Local Strategic Planning Statements (LSPS). On the surface of it, such a process makes some sense. However, it is the LEP only that has legislative ‘teeth’.
In a recent communique from the Department of Planning they advised once a LSPS has been adopted by a Council “all new planning proposals will be required to align with a Council’s LSPS“. This appears to allow the planning panels to by-pass a Council’s LEP. The term ‘align‘ is not defined. As LSPSs are high level strategic documents it would seem easy for a panel to declare that a Spot Rezoning is justified. So instead of a Council preparing an LEP this will now effectively be undertaken by a planning panel endorsing a non-complying application.
The Minister for Planning and his Head of Department have declined an invitation from the Federation of Willoughby Progress Associations (FWPAs) to discuss the issue. It is hoped that the Federation will further raise the issue with the Mayor and the Premier.