EP&A Act – Amended to establish Local Planning Panels

What has happened?

On Friday, 14 August 2017*, the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) was amended by the Environmental Planning and Assessment and Electoral Legislation Amendment (Planning Panels and Enforcement) Act 2017 (Planning Panels Act).

* Amendments to Section 23G and Schedule 4A of the EP&A Act and to the State Environmental Planning Policy (State and Regional Development) 2011 (dealing with consequential changes to the functions of regional planning panels) will commence later on a date to be proclaimed.

What is the effect of the amendments?

The amendments made by the Planning Panels Act:

  1. require Councils in the Greater Sydney Region or the City of Wollongong to establish a Local Planning Panel. Others Council may do so on a voluntary basis
  2. provide that Local Planning Panels are to constituted by 4 members including:
    • an independent chairperson approved by the Minister
    • two other independent members with relevant experience approved by the Minister
    • a community representative
  3. provide that, where a Local Planning Panel is established, Councillors will no longer exercise any planning functions. Instead, the Council's planning functions will be exercised by the Local Planning Panel, Council staff, or a Regional Planning Panel
  4. provide that the Minister can issue a direction (under section 117) determining which planning functions are to be exercised by a Local Planning Panel


These amendments represent a significant change to the way in which development is approved in NSW. No Ministerial directions under section 117 with respect to the operation of Local Planning Panels have yet been issued. 

The full implications of these amendments, including with respect to timing, will not be properly understood until the panels have commenced operations and section 117 directions issued.

Further information

For further information on these amendments and their potential implications for your development please contact Marcus Steele, Director, on (02) 8005-1411 or marcus.steele@steelelaw.com.au.