NSW Planning Minister Tony Kelly and Attorney General John Hatzistergos last week introduced the Planning Appeals Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 into Parliament that includes a fast-tracked appeals process for small developments.
The Bill proposes a fast-tracked appeal system for applications for single dwellings and dual occupancies, by amending the Land and Environment Court Act 1979 (LEC Act) to create a new conciliation-arbitration scheme. It also proposes changes to the systems for internal council reviews and costs orders.
The conciliation-arbitration scheme would apply to merit reviews in the Land and Environment Court for disputes between councils and homeowners over development applications and modification applications for detached single dwellings and dual occupancies (including subdivision) and alterations and additions to single dwellings and dual occupancies.
Under the scheme, a Commissioner of the Court will conduct conciliation, and if no agreement can be reached, that Commissioner will immediately arbitrate the matter. Objectors and experts would still be involved in conciliation-arbitration as they would in court hearings.
Mr Kelly said that if passed, the Court will introduce a benchmark to accompany the new scheme to aim to resolve 95 per cent of appeals within three months, compared with the existing six-months. He said it would make it quicker and less expensive for homeowners to get a decision in the Land and Environment Court.
The Planning Appeals Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 proposes amendments to the Land and Environment Court Act, Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (EP&A Act) and associated regulations to:
- Support the new conciliation/arbitration scheme;
- Expand the types of decisions applicants can seek an internal review by councils on, to modifications and decisions to reject development applications on the basis of inadequate information;
- Increase the proposed time limit to launch merit appeals from three to six months; and
- Make clarifications for cost orders related to amending applications and the ability for Joint Regional Planning Panels and the Planning Assessment Commission to be heard in court.