The NSW Department of Planning and Environment says it has received almost 500 applications for the position of chair or panel member on the Independent Hearing Assessment Panels (IHAPs).

“It is great to see such a strong response following the call for applications. This means the pool that councils will draw upon to build their IHAPs will include some excellent candidates,” the minister for Planning and Housing, Anthony Roberts says.

“As we move closer to the introduction of IHAPs next March, we will see how this necessary amendment to the EP&A Act will allow councils to focus on the larger, strategic issues for their area.” 

Roberts says the mandatory IHAPs were introduced to eliminate corruption, and would bring 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.”

The IHAPs were designed as a standard model, comprising three independent expert members and a local community member and members must be an expert in one or more fields such as planning, architecture, heritage, the environment, urban design, economics, traffic and transport, law, engineering, tourism, or government and public administration.

The chair must also have expertise in law or government and public administration, Roberts says.
From a total of 490 applications, 330 were to become a member only, 25 a chair only and 135 applications were set to become both a chair and a member.