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Local councils given rezoning powers

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NSW minister for planning and infrastructure, Brad Hazzard has announced local councils will have the power to sign-off on various rezoning plans for the first time in 30 years.

“The O’Farrell government is committed to returning local planning powers to local councils and their communities,” Mr Hazzard said speaking at the Local Government and Shires Associations’ NSW Annual Conference in Dubbo.

“Councils can finalise a range of local environmental plan amendments, including spot rezonings, heritage proposals and the reclassification of some public land," Mr Hazzard said.

“Most importantly, councils will still be required to undertake community consultation for planning proposals that are delegated to them.”

Additionally, proponents seeking a rezoning can now request an independent review of decisions through the local Joint Regional Planning Panel if a council has refused or failed to respond to their rezoning request.

A council or a proponent can also ask the minister for planning and infrastructure to alter a decision made by the Department of Planning and Infrastructure. In these cases, the minister would seek advice from the Planning Assessment Commission before making a decision.

“Currently, a person requesting a rezoning isn’t recognised at all by the planning system and has no rights to seek a review of any final decisions,” Mr Hazzard said.

“This means rezoning proposals which have merit – for instance those which are well located, planned and will assist housing supply – may be supported after an independent review.”

The changes are explained in a planning circular to be issued to local councils today, as well as in two online publications – A Guide to Preparing Local Environmental Plans.

The Urban Taskforce says the announcement is a great step forward in boosting NSW housing supply and jobs.

“The industry has been frustrated for many years by the inability to have a review of rezoning proposals that are refused for new housing or other building types that have merit,” says the Urban Taskforce CEO, Chris Johnson.

“The proposal to refer council refusals to the Joint Regional Planning Panel and Department of Planning refusals to the Planning Assessment Commission are sensible ways of getting an independent assessment of decisions.”

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