Lawyers Concerned Over Changes to Planning Laws

July 22nd, 2013

Former Justice Paul Stein and the NSW Law Society are concerned about changes to the NSW planning law system, as it has inadequate and non-mandatory provisions for community consultation and may become corrupted.

The NSW Law Society stated that the broad ministerial discretions in the bill will override local and subregional plans, where the minister will not have to consult the community in regards to strategic planning. This is of particular concern considering that minimising the risk of corruption in the decision-making process is crucial with the new legislation.

The plan has also received criticism from the community, as the bill excludes third-party appeals and judicial reviews. The NSW Planning department said that it will make sure appeal rights are maintained in the new act, although the Law Society pointed out that this wasn’t reflected in the new draft legislation.

Justice Stein said that the new act will engage the community when it comes to strategic planning by Councillors, but not during development planning. During his Mahla Pearlman Oration, he asked the government to allow the public to participate in the planning process by submitting a development application to the Council. He also asked that Councils appoint independent assessment panels led by experts to prevent corruption and enhance the development application decision-making process.