Amidst concerns over corruption in the NSW planning system, including allegations of impropriety at Canterbury Council, the NSW Government has proposed changes to the application of clause 4.6 of the Standard Instrument Local Environmental Plan (Standard Instrument LEP). Clause 4.6 of the Standard Instrument LEP provides some flexibility over development standards so that consent authorities can approve development applications in exceptional circumstances. The aim of the changes is to increase transparency and accountability in the planning system and clarify the requirements for contraventions in development standards.
Following a recent Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Inquiry (Operation Dasha), the NSW planning department is exhibiting an Explanation of Intended Effect (EIE) that seeks to gather public feedback on new measures to improve the planning system.
Proposed changes to clause 4.6
Several propositions have been put forward under the revised clause 4.6. Applicants would need to submit a written request for a variation to a development standard that their consent authority deems aligned with its original objective and the land zone use.
Contraventions would also need to result in a planning outcome that is superior to the result that would otherwise be achieved without the variation. The consenting authority would need to be satisfied that it is in public interest and that it has positive environmental, social, and economic outcomes.
Where the variation is warranted however so minor that it would be extremely challenging to demonstrate its improved planning outcomes, an alternative test may be offered. Feedback that is collected will help determine what this test looks like.
In line with recommendations from the ICAC Inquiry, a recent amendment to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 requires councils to publish the reasons for granting or denying a variation request on the NSW Planning Portal. This will further improve transparency and accountability.
Submit your feedback
The EIE is open for submissions until 12 May 2021. Click here to have your say on the proposed changes to clause 4.6 of the Standard Instrument LEP. Alternatively, you can send queries to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail your submission to:
Attention: Executive Director Local Government and Economic Policy
NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
Locked Bag 5022, Parramatta NSW 2124