Planning and Environmental Law Updates

20 FEB 2018


Updates to the EP&A Law

The Department of Planning and Environment has recently established a timetable for the commencement of amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (“EP&A Act”) introduced in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment Act 2017 (“the Amendment Act”).

Importantly, a number of amendments are due to commence on 1 March 2018 including the restructure of the EP&A Act, the new objects of the Act, provisions relating to local planning panels and the end to transitional arrangements for the former Part 3A.

A useful reference guide for the Act’s updated numbering system published by the Department can be found here:

Other measures introduced by Amendment Act will commence on a staggered basis from 2018 to 2020 following further  consultation including requirements for statements of reasons, local strategic planning statements, enforceable undertakings, community participation plans and standardised development control plans.

New Planning Circular: Varying Development Standards (PS17-006)

A Planning Circular was published by the Department of Planning and Environment on 15 December 2017 clarifying the circumstances in which councils may assume the Secretary’s concurrence to vary development standards.

PS 17-006 (“the circular”) replaces Planning Circulars B1, PS08-003, PS08-014 and PS11-018.
The circular attaches a written notice made by the Secretary pursuant to clause 64 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000, which provides that councils may assume the Secretary’s concurrence for exceptions to development standards made under clause 4.6 of the Standard Instrument (“clause 4.6”) or clause 6 of State Environmental Planning Policy No 1 – Development Standards (“SEPP 1”), subject to listed qualifications.

Importantly, for example, the notification stipulates that only a full council can assume the Secretary’s concurrence where the variation to a numerical standard is greater than 10% or where the variation relates to a non-numerical standard.

The circular also affirms monitoring and reporting measures established by previous circulars which must be adhered to by councils when considering applications under clause 4.6 or SEPP 1, including:

  • That applications for variations to development standards cannot be considered without written application and addressing those matters required to be addressed in the relevant planning instrument;
  • The establishment and maintenance of a publicly available online register of all variations approved by councils or their delegates; and
  • Other requirements for reporting of variations approved to the Department and Councils.

New Planning Circular: Respecting and enhancing local character in the planning system (“PS18-001”)
Another new planning circular was published by the Department on 16 January 2018 providing guidance to councils in relation to incorporating consideration of local character into strategic planning decisions.

The circular briefly describes what character is and affirms the importance of a context-based approach. Key tools highlighted by the circular include regional and district plans, planned precincts, local environmental plans, development control plans and other design guidance policies produced by the Department.

For further information on these planning and environmental law updates, please contact Adam Seton on or (02) 4626 5077 and David Baird on or (02) 4626 5077.

The contents of this publication are for reference purposes only. This publication does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Specific legal advice should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication.

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