Over the last few years, the NSW Government has introduced major reforms to the NSW planning system, which included an overhaul of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW). In December 2018, the Kaldas review, headed by former deputy police commissioner Nick Kaldas, made 19 recommendations – all which were accepted by the NSW Department of Planning.
One of Kaldas’ key recommendations was for the Independent Hearing and Assessment Panel (IHAPs) to remain mandatory for both Sydney and Wollongong Councils. It was also recommended that thought be given to extending the operation of these panels to the Central Coast and Newcastle Local Government Areas.
Wollongong City Council has used an IHAP since 2008, to review and provide advice on sensitive Development Applications (DAs). These panels, instead of Wollongong City Council, assess DAs valued between $5 million and $30 million. Developments valued over $30 million are dealt with by the regional Sydney Planning Panels.
An IHAP, also known as a Local Planning Panel comprises:
- a chair;
- two independent expert members; and
- a community member.
Panel members are required to be expert in one or more of the following fields: planning, architecture, heritage, the environment, urban design, economics, traffic and transport, law, engineering, tourism, or government and public administration.
The panels are used where there is:
- a conflict of interest;
- a contentious development (determined by the number of submissions to council);
- a departure from development standards (contravention of a standard by more than 10%); and
- sensitive development (eg. heritage, liquor licences, restricted premises).
PDC Lawyers have experienced solicitors and planners to help developers navigate the new planning changes and can assist with your Local Planning Panel needs. Call us today (02) 4288 0150.