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SHAKE UP OF DEVELOPMENT PLANNING APPROVALS TO START IN MARCH
On 10 August 2017, the NSW State Government introduced a Bill to make Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels (IHAPs) mandatory for Sydney and Wollongong Local Councils.
Here’s what it means for you …
WHAT IS A IHAP?
An IHAP, short for Independent Hearing and Assessment Panel, is a panel of three independent expert members and a member of the community who come together to assess development applications (DAs) made to local Councils.
IHAPs have been around since 1997 to help relieve pressure on Councils, particularly those who lack the expertise to judge a proposed development. They also seek to depoliticise the determination of DAs and increase community representation in the planning process.
IHAPs have been used on a voluntary basis by Wollongong council and some metropolitan Sydney councils for some time now. However, from 1 March 2018, Councils that do not have an existing IHAP will be required to constitute a panel to consider DAs worth between $5 million and $30 million.
NSW Planning Minister, Anthony Roberts, hopes that this change will “guard against corruption and lead to better local planning decisions”.
“It is essential the government has a transparent and accountable process in place when assessing DAs of significant value, when there is a conflict of interest for the council or developer, or when they are of a sensitive nature,” he said.
Like all changes to planning approval processes, the devil is in the implementation. In the meantime, while the process may have benefits, it could easily work out the other way. Any change brings uncertainty and delays while the new system is bedded down.
Eric Lundberg of TGC commented that “Planning and design decisions are inevitably affected by subjective judgements. We have all seen projects that comply with all the planning codes but are monstrosities, while wonderful designs are knocked back on a technicality. The costs and benefits of the new system will only emerge over time.”
WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR DEVELOPERS?
The new Bill means that IHAPs will be required to determine DAs and modification applications that:
are valued between $5 million and $30 million
- have a potential conflict of interest
- have received ten or more objections from the community
- are accompanied by a proposed voluntary planning agreement
- vary from development standards by over 10 per cent
- are linked with a higher risk of corruption
For more information about the change visit www.mccabes.com.au.
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