NEW South Wales Planning and Infrastructure Minister Brad Hazzard today announced the establishment of a Local Planning Panel to engage with local councils and report back to government on how the Local Environmental Plan (LEP) template can be improved.
The Coalition said it would introduce more flexibility in response to "state-wide frustration among NSW Councils" over the former Labor Government's approach to 'template' Local Environmental Plans (LEPs).
In 2006, the former Labor Government introduced a standard instrument for preparing new LEPs, also known as the LEP template, to ensure a level of consistency among LEPs, which guide planning decisions for local government areas through zoning and development controls.
"This Government is committed to empowering local communities and flexibility at the local level in developing LEPs is critical," Mr Hazzard.
"To bring about that flexibility I have established a Local Planning Panel which will engage with local councils and report back to Government on how the standard instrument LEP can be improved."
Mr Hazzard said the Government is aware councils are struggling to incorporate local issues into the LEP template and are concerned about the translation of some zonings into the new template framework.
The Minister called on councils and their communities to have their say on a more appropriate standard instrument LEP.
He said the government is particularly interested in feedback on:
- The delivery and preferred timing of standard instrument LEPs;
- Impediments to finalising standard instrument LEPs;
- Implementation issues relating to standard clauses, definitions and policies; and
- Opportunities for greater flexibility to reflect local conditions.
An independent chair will be appointed to the panel on the recommendation of the Local Government and Shires Association and the Department of Planning and Infrastructure.
Property development industry group, Urban Taskforce, welcomed the review, saying there have been some serious problems with the former government's 'standard instrument'.
Urban Taskforce's chief executive, Aaron Gadiel, said it was important that the review be open to the wider community, including the development industry.
"One of the reasons there have been so many problems with zoning plans, is that the state government's Planning Department has only consulted other regulators - such as councils - without talking to the people actually impacted by zoning rules.
"We hope the mistakes of the past won't be repeated," Mr Gadiel said, adding that the government should consider special arrangements to ensure that any pending rezonings are not slowed down by the review.