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Streamlining planning for homeowners and businesses

20 December 2013
The NSW Government is introducing planning changes that will save businesses $76 million a year and make it easier for homeowners to make small renovations.
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The common-sense amendments to the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development) will save homeowners time and money, NSW Planning and Infrastructure Minister Brad Hazzard said.

“These changes, which follow more than two years of consultation, are great news for homeowners who will be able to save up to $7,000 on the cost of building a new home by getting approval as complying development,” Mr Hazzard said.

“They will give homeowners and businesses faster, simpler approvals for low-impact developments such as building or renovating a home or business.

“This will help streamline the delivery of new housing, create jobs and deliver more certainty in the planning process.”

Under the changes businesses will also be able to open 24 hours in the two weeks leading up to Christmas 2014 without requiring planning approval in business zones where residents will not be impacted.

“This is a Christmas present from the NSW Government for next year’s last-minute shoppers and business owners,” Mr Hazzard said.

The changes to the system will provide a wide range of benefits for:

  • Homeowners – It will be easier to install aerials and antennas, build fences, driveways and pathways without the need for planning approval.

It will also be easier for residents to get fast-track approvals for single storey backyard studios and home food production businesses.

Fast track approvals will also be expanded to include homes or home extensions partially built to one side boundary for lots between 8m and 12.5m (compared to the current rule which only allows this for lots between 8m and 10m)

  • Businesses – Red tape will also be cut for businesses and retailers allowing internal commercial building alterations, erecting of signage, changing of a building’s use and extended trading hours leading up to Christmas 2014 (only in business zones) without planning approval.

It will also be easier for businesses to get fast-track approvals for industrial/commercial buildings - with limits on clearing sites to protect biodiversity.

  • Neighbours – For the first time residents within a 20m radius of a complying development proposal in an established residential area will now need to be told 14 days before the application is approved, while they will be given seven days notice before construction starts - up from two days currently.

Privacy rules will also be strengthened (effective screens will be required for balconies and windows that overlook neighbours) along with rules regarding earthworks and significant trees to minimise impacts on neighbours and protect the environment.

NSW Executive Director of Property Council of Australia, Glenn Byres, has welcomed the changes.

“We support continued efforts to strip needless red tape from the system as it helps lower the time and costs faced by property owners, business and homebuyers,” Mr Byres said.

“A continued reduction in the regulatory burden placed on projects will improve the competitive position of NSW.”

Mr Hazzard said consultation on the changes commenced more than two years ago, independently of the NSW Planning Bill, and that they will be transitioned into the new planning system which is currently before Parliament.

“Residents shouldn’t have to jump through major planning hurdles if what they are doing is low-impact and doesn’t affect neighbours.”

“Roughly a third of regular development applications are for minor developments worth less than $25,000 – showing that there is room for significant improvements in this area.

“It is also great news for businesses which will save an estimated $76 million a year through cutting red tape and quicker approval times.”

“Businesses shouldn’t have to be caught in a bureaucratic maze if their development doesn’t affect residential neighbours and is well-planned.”

“These changes reinforce NSW is the number one place in Australia to do business.”

The amendments will commence in February 2014 following extensive information and training sessions for councils and certifiers across the state in early 2014.

“The NSW Government is getting on with the job of delivering a modern, transparent planning system that drives housing and jobs in this State,” Mr Hazzard said.

More information is available at Planning website.

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