05 Apr 2011

The last days of Part 3A - and NSW planning laws to be reviewed

No more applications for developments will be accepted under Part 3A of NSW's Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, and Part 3A will be repealed when Parliament returns, fulfilling an election promise by the incoming Premier Barry O'Farrell.

Speaking after the first Cabinet meeting for the new Government, Mr O'Farrell said that "from today, no new Part 3A applications for private residential, commercial, retail or coastal development will be accepted". It is not yet clear whether this moratorium on applications would also apply to projects for public infrastructure, energy and resources, and other significant industries.

He also said that transitional arrangements will be made to deal with the approximately 500 Part 3A applications still pending, but, it appears, not all of them will stay in Part 3A.

Mr O'Farrell said he expected about half of the existing Part 3A applications to be referred to the Planning Assessment Commission (presumably to determine under Part 3A via delegation), another quarter to be determined by local government (possibly not under Part 3A), and the rest, which have been in the system for up to two years, to lapse.

The Government has indicated that it wants to give planning powers back to local communities. How this is to be achieved will be an important element of, and a challenge for, the proposed legislation, particularly in relation to major infrastructure projects that may traverse and impact on many local communities.

Complex savings and transitional provisions are also likely to be required to deal with major projects that have concept plan approvals and are at various stages of development. How these are to be addressed may result in delays to current approved projects and at the very least, a degree of uncertainty for developers and investors in such projects.

The new Coalition Government will also review the State's planning laws, but this expected to take up to 18 months.

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Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all States and Territories.