The New South Wales Planning System
Planning in New South Wales is directed by the following two pieces of legislation:
- Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (or “the EP&A Act”)
- Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2021 (or “the EP&A Regulation”)
While the Act and the Regulation provide the overarching structure for planning in the state, there are a number of other statutory documents that support that structure.
The two most commonly used are State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs) and Local Environmental Plans (LEPs).
- State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs)
There are approximately 66 State policies that outline the State Government’s approach to dealing with planning issues specific to the State. State policies are made by the Governor on the recommendations of the Minister for Planning and updated as required.
- Local Environmental Plans (LEPs)
Each local government area has an LEP to guide development and protect natural resources such as waterways and heritage within local government areas. LEPs are prepared by local Councils, in consultation with their community and approved by the Minister for Planning (or their delegate).
Although the rules and guidelines for land use within local Council areas are dictated to some degree by State Environmental Planning Policies, local Councils can administer more specific rules about land use through their Local Environmental Plans, and can provide additional guidance in their development control plans (DCPs).
- Development Control Plan (DCP)
A Development Control Plan provides detailed planning and design guidelines to support the planning controls in the Local Environmental Plan (LEP) and is prepared and adopted by local Councils. It identifies additional development controls and standards for addressing development issues at a local level and can be applied more flexibly than a LEP.