In March 2018, legislation was introduced requiring Councils to prepare Local Strategic Planning Statements (LSPSs) following amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. LSPSs should link the District Plans outlined through the Greater Sydney Commission with the Local Environmental Plans (LEPs) implemented by Councils. These Statements will essentially give effect to the wider district and regional plans at a smaller scale, setting out the finer details for the local level.
LSPSs will outline a 20 year vision for local government areas, determining how Council’s update their planning instruments (such as LEPs and DCPs) so that they align with the Statement. Importantly, they will also serve as the foundation for strategic merit reviews of any future rezonings in the area.
If a landowner wants to rezone their property, the burden is on them to establish whether the proposal has merit. It must be proven that the proposal is consistent with not only the associated District and Regional Plans, but also any local instrument (i.e. a LSPS). A proposal that is contradictory to a LSPS may therefore be particularly difficult to get approval for, especially if the pre-gateway review process is no longer available.
Councils are required to update their LEPs every five years and LSPSs every seven. So, if a proposal is not consistent with a LSPS or the LEP it will be some time before changes can be made. Landowners will have to wait until Council reviews these documents to alter the planning controls then.
With the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces expressing his desire to limit the amount of spot rezonings and recent efforts to stop pre-gateway reviews (click here to read corresponding article), opportunities to rezone in the future could be restricted, while the strategic merit test might become considerably tougher. Yet Minister Stokes believes that if strategic planning is implemented correctly, spot rezonings would no longer be necessary. So the take home message for developers looking to landbank sites – buyers beware!
Some LSPSs are already on exhibition, with every greater Sydney Council required to publicly exhibit their draft Statements by 1 October 2019 and finalise them by 1 March 2020. Amended LEPs are to come into effect by March 2021.
For more detailed advice concerning legislation amendments and their ramifications for your development projects, please contact our Planning Experts, or contact Madison Marcus for all general Planning and/or Property Development Related enquiries.