The NSW government is proposing changes to planning legislation that will, it says, ensure clarity and prevent delays in the assessment and delivery of more than $8 billion worth of development applications currently in the pipeline. 

This follows a recent court ruling whereby The Court of Appeal ruled that the development consent for the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct was invalid.

According to the Department of Planning and Environment’s (DPE) Deputy Secretary for Planning Services, Marcus Ray, the proposed changes are now necessary following the Walsh Bay decision. 

“Our initial investigations estimate that delays because of this decision could have implications for the delivery of 14,500 homes across NSW – 9,000 in Metro Sydney and 5,500 in regional NSW,” Ray said.

The Court’s interpretation of the Environmental Planning and Assessment (EP&A) Act highlighted the need for a clearer definition of a “staged development application”- commonly employed on large projects. 

“This two-stage approach has become common practice in the development industry. The Government is simply making the legislation clearer to ensure the current pipeline of DAs worth $8 billion can proceed without delay,” Ray said.

According to the Court of Appeal ruling, the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct development proposal was invalid because: 

• it was not a “staged development application” because it included a concept approval and proposed only one subsequent detailed development application (DA), instead of multiple detailed DAs; and 

• construction-related impacts needed to be considered in the assessment of a staged application. 

“Any proposed development at Walsh Bay will be subject to assessment,” said the DPE, which added that there will be a process of “public exhibition for community feedback.”

In a further statement, the NSW DPE said that, “The proposed changes reflect accepted assessment practice and will ensure that established processes can continue.”

“There are no specific minimum requirements to make a staged DA, but they are intended to allow for better strategic planning for a site and the staging of complex developments,” the DPE noted.