Local Planning Panels in force

On Thursday the use of Local Planning Panels became mandatory for all Sydney councils and Wollongong City Council.

After a period of consultation with councils and other stakeholders, changes have been made to the initial draft for the panels by the NSW Minister for Planning Anthony Roberts, including the removal of “value thresholds” as a criterion.

There are four headings of referral criteria for development applications: conflict of interest, contentious development, departure from development standards and sensitive development. Further, a council has to refer all planning proposals referred after 1 June to the Local Planning Panel for advice.

These panels, also known as Independent Hearing and Assessments Panels (IHAPs), consist of a chair, two independent expert members and a community member. The panels will consider specified development applications to councils.

Mr Roberts has appointed the chairs. Councils will choose two expert members to appoint to its panel from a pool established by the Department of Planning and Environment and approved by the Minister for Planning. Councils will also appoint community members to the panels.