Minns government rushes changes to planning laws: what you need to know

Closing date 23rd February. Details and link below

The NSW Government has announced major changes to planning laws. The new planning reforms would apply to the “Six Cities” region stretching from Wollongong to Port Stephens and include the Blue Mountains to the West.

There are two significant reforms. The Transport Orientated Development (TOD) Program has not been put on public exhibition and the NSW government has no intention of exhibiting the new SEPP (State Environmental Planning Policy) before it comes into effect on 1st April 2024.

For more information:
Under the second reform, changes to Low- and Mid-rise Housing currently on exhibition, State-imposed zonings and controls would significantly weaken local democratic input into the built form and character of large areas of most Local Government Areas.

Despite the magnitude of the proposed changes to the NSW planning system, the public has had little time, and little explanation from the Minns Government about the implications for climate mitigation, urban tree cover or the current bogeyman of the developer and YIMBY lobby, heritage.
As the changes are being rammed through with insufficient consultation (released only in late December) and with lack of consideration of the wider policy implications, they would if implemented result in extensive damage to the environment, loss of heritage, and overload infrastructure and local services.
The Better Planning Network believes the changes would significantly weaken the influence of local communities over the built form and character of large areas of most local government areas.

The low and mid-rise housing (2-6 storeys) and increased dual occupancy opportunities, will override all Local Environmental Plans (LEPs) and Development Control Plans (DCPs) and heritage conservation areas.

BPN also believes that the Minns Government approach to housing affordability is simplistic. Supply alone is not the answer. Changes will not address the very real crisis of inadequate supply of genuinely and permanently affordable public housing without incorporating reforms outside the realm of land-use planning.

In addition, under the Affordability SEPP property developers will be given 30% height and density bonuses provided 10 to 15% of the total floor space of the development is made available to a Community Housing provider for 15 years for affordable housing. A 15-year limit on affordable housing, is not a sustainable policy.

The Government’s 7-Star thermal performance rating requirement on new residential buildings does not apply to apartments below six storeys. These will be exempt from thermal performance improvement unlike other homes required to go from 5.5 Star rating under the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) to 7 or a maximum of 10 Stars! This will compromise NSW’s climate targets and liveability of the developments themselves.

Requests for the analysis and assumptions behind the planning decisions have been met with refusal on grounds of “Cabinet in Confidence”. BPN says this secrecy should be lifted to ensure transparent consideration.

Consult with your local Council regarding their position on the reforms, lobby State MPs and, most importantly, lodge a submission.

Read the NSW Government’s Explanation of Intended Effect: Changes to create low and mid-rise housing, December 2023
APPENDIX A gives a summary of changes.
Public submissions on proposed changes are on exhibition for public comment until Friday 23rd February 2024.
Read supporting documents and lodge your submission HERE:

Tip Just scroll down to the bottom of the above link, and be sure to state whether you Support, Object or are just making Comment.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Murray SAYLE Reply

    We are deep in climate crisis, 2023 was the hottest year so far, January 2024 hottest Month on record, we need better insulation standard on all new developments, head in sand attitudes will not fix the problem. Stop export climate change coal and gas.

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