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The push for planning centralisation – Recent developments in “ePlanning”

It is no secret that the NSW Department of Planning and the Environment is pushing for matters of planning to be both more readily accessible online and more centralised. Changes in legislation hint towards the Department’s Planning Portal website becoming a “one-stop shop” for planning information and processes. Last year, the draft Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (ePlanning) Regulation 2017 was publicly exhibited and on 1 June 2018, the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (ePlanning – Complying Development Certificates) Regulation 2018 (ePlanning CDC Regulation) was passed.

The ePlanning CDC Regulation makes a minor change to clause 126 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 (EPAR), allowing complying development certificates (discussed further in another article in this newsletter) to be lodged on the Planning Portal. It is not the first instance of the Planning Portal being considered in legislation, such as section 4.20 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EPAA) which indicates that certain development consent has effect on the date it is registered on the NSW Planning Portal.

What both the new clause 126 of EPAR and section 4.20 of EPAA have in common is that neither can actually be used: the Planning Portal, in its current state, has not incorporated these features yet. The legislation will of course facilitate the use of these features once they go live, but in the meantime the previous methods of lodgement and notification of development consent apply.

The submissions noted in the Consultation Report for the ePlanning CDC Regulation show that there is a strong desire for both further centralisation in online planning matters as well as greater access to planning information, particularly spatial data. It remains to be seen if further changes both in legislation and the online infrastructure will arrive.

More information regarding the Department’s ePlanning review can be found here.

Alex Collie, Lawyer

Paul Carroll, Partner

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