Land use planning
Councils in NSW have an important role in land use planning and development approval.
They develop strategic plans – called Local Strategic Planning Statements - for the future development of their local area. These strategic plans guide the application of land use zones set down in councils’ local environmental plans (LEP). Councils also coordinate and provide physical and community infrastructure as their communities grow and change.
Every council in NSW has prepared a local strategic planning statement, which describes the 20-year vision and priorities for land use in their local area, and how change will be managed into the future. These statements can be viewed here.
State agencies rely on councils to implement the planning priorities and actions of the State’s regional and district plans. This is done through councils’ LSPS and LEP.
Councils assess local development and are able to grant approval, grant approval, with or without conditions, or refuse an application for development. Local planning controls regulate densities, height, external design and siting, building materials, open space provisions, and the level of developer contribution required to cover physical and/or community infrastructure costs arising from the proposed development. For some specified development applications, the NSW Government requires different processes for making decisions about development, such as independent planning panels or approval by the state’s Planning Minister.
Local Planning Panels
Local planning panels are mandatory for all Sydney councils, Wollongong City Council and Central Coast Council. These panels are made up of independent experts that determine development applications on behalf of the council and provide advice on other planning matters. Where mandatory local planning panels are in place, decisions about individual developments are made by either the panel or delegated to a council's planning staff rather than by democratically elected councillors.
Councils help shape and deliver housing policy objectives through their land use planning and community service responsibilities. Councils prepare local housing strategies in consultation with communities, to detail how and where housing will be provided in local areas.
In Greater Sydney, the District plans require councils to prepare local housing strategies to address housing needs. This work informs 6-10 year housing targets for each local government area.
With the expansion of state-wide codes and policies, more development is being certified as complying development, bypassing councils’ local policies and development assessment pathways. The reliance on complying development could remove the ability for councils and communities to determine important location and design considerations for development in their areas. LGNSW opposes the widespread expansion of state-wide complying development codes and policies that undermine councils’ local strategic plans and planning rules.
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