Planning Panels are independent bodies that strengthen decision making on regionally significant development applications and other planning matters including certain planning proposals and Aboriginal land planning. Determinations made by the Planning Panels are not subject to the direction of the Minister for Planning.
In the Greater Sydney Region, a Sydney District Planning Panel operates for each district:
- Sydney Eastern City
- Sydney Central City
- Sydney Western City
- Sydney North, and
- Sydney South
Regional Planning Panels operate in the following four regions of the State:
- Hunter and Central Coast
- Northern, and
The Planning Panels
The principal functions of Planning Panels are to determine regionally significant development applications and undertake rezoning reviews of planning proposals. Other functions of Planning Panels include:
- Determining modification applications for regionally significant development
- Determining Crown development applications
- Determining development application reviews
- Undertaking independent proposal reviews for specific Local Aboriginal Land Council lands
- Preparing planning proposals if they are directed to be the planning proposal authority
- Advising the Minister or the Secretary on other planning and development matters when requested
The Planning Panels determine regionally significant development applications (DAs), certain other DAs and s4.55(2) and s4.56 modification applications including:
- Regionally significant development, as outlined in Schedule 6 of the State Environmental Planning Policy Planning Systems 2021
- Regionally significant development relating to Aboriginal land, as outlined in Chapter 3 of the State Environmental Planning Policy Planning Systems 2021
- Development with a capital investment value (CIV)* over $30 million.
- Development with a CIV* over $5 million which is:
- council related
- lodged by or on behalf of the Crown (State of NSW)
- private infrastructure and community facilities
- eco-tourist facilities
- extractive industries, waste facilities and marinas that are designated development
- certain coastal subdivisions and
- certain coastal protection works.
*Capital investment value (CIV) is calculated at the time of lodgement of the DA for the purpose of determining whether an application should go to a Planning Panel - refer to Planning Circular PS 10-008.
Strategic Planning Panels
The Planning Panels are known as the Strategic Planning Panels when convened for specific strategic and Aboriginal land planning matters. Strategic and Aboriginal land planning matters include:
- Rezoning reviews
- Independent reviews of Aboriginal land planning proposals
- Planning proposals where the panels are the planning proposal authority (PPA), and
- Advice to the Minister for Planning.
Additional specialists have been added to the existing pool of expert alternate panel members to bolster strategic planning and improve Aboriginal land planning outcomes.
For each Strategic Planning Panel case, the existing Chair and local panel members of the relevant Planning Panel will remain in place. Specialist alternate members will replace the two existing State members for certain strategic and Aboriginal land planning matters.
The Strategic Planning Panel will improve rezoning review and planning proposal outcomes and timeframes and unlock opportunities for Aboriginal land.
In doing so, the Government is supporting economic prosperity for Aboriginal communities and facilitating greater participation by Aboriginal people in planning decision making.
The rezoning review process allows a proponent to request an independent Planning Panel to evaluate whether a proposal should progress to Gateway determination. The independent decision is based on the strategic and site-specific merits of a proposal. This can only occur after the lodgement of the planning proposal with council and council has:
- notified the proponent in writing it does not support the proposal
- failed to indicate its support for the planning proposal within 90 or 115 calendar days (depending on the planning proposal category) of the proponent lodging the planning proposal
- failed to submit the planning proposal for Gateway determination within 28 calendar days after it has indicated support.
All rezoning reviews should be initiated via the Planning Portal.
The Planning Panel will review the planning proposal and make a recommendation to the Minister on whether the proposal should be submitted for Gateway determination.
Further detail on the rezoning process can be found in the department's LEP Making Guideline.
Aboriginal land proposals
The NSW Government is committed to unlocking opportunities for Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALCs) to help deliver economic and community benefits from their land holdings for future generations.
Strategic Planning Panels play a crucial role in overseeing proposals for land owned by LALCs. Six of the specialist alternate panel members identify as Indigenous and have experience in Aboriginal land planning. This brings diversity and cultural inclusivity to the panels and greater participation of Aboriginal people in planning decisions.
Chapter 3 ‘Aboriginal Land’ of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Planning Systems) 2021 identifies specific LALC owned land, includes provisions regarding the preparation of a Development Delivery Plan (DDP) for those lands and criteria to support future regionally significant development.
Following preparation of a DDP a LALC may elect to have a planning proposal independently reviewed by a Planning Panel. Review of the proposal is undertaken in alignment with Planning Circular PS22-001. The local Council is provided an opportunity to comment on the proposal but is not provided the option to be the planning proposal authority.
Planning Proposal Authority
The Planning Panels can act as the Planning Proposal Authority (PPA) for the purpose of preparing a local environmental plan (LEP) when directed to do so.
PPA is the authority responsible for the governance of a planning proposal, including its preparation and submission to the Department for a Gateway determination, satisfying the conditions of a Gateway determination, public exhibition, and its finalisation (including submission to the Department for finalisation, where required).
Coastal Protection Works
State Environmental Planning Policy (Planning Systems) 2021, (Schedule 6, clause 8A), declares certain development for the purposes of coastal protection works to be regionally significant development for which the consent authority is a Sydney District or Regional Planning Panel.
Where a Planning Panel is to determine a DA for coastal protection works the chair and the council nominated members will remain on the panel, however the State members will be replaced by members appointed by the Minister for Planning who have expertise in coastal engineering or coastal geomorphology (see clause 8A, Schedule 6 of the Planning Systems SEPP).
The Sydney District or Regional Planning Panel exercise development consent functions for applications for coastal protection works by private landowners and public authorities where the works are not exempted by clause 2.16 (2) of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Resilience and Hazards) 2021. The Planning Panel may continue to have consent authority functions such as modification to development consents it previously granted, even if the works are subsequently identified in a certified CMP.
For further information about coastal management click here
View information about the members with coastal expertise who will join planning panels when they are considering coastal protection works.
Site Compatibility Certificates
Planning Panels are responsible for determining applications for Site Compatibility Certificates (SCC) under the Transport and Infrastructure SEPP that relate to educational establishments and childcare facilities on certain land. Written applications for SCCs are lodged with the Department which will prepare an assessment report and recommendation for the relevant Panel. Following consideration of the application and Department’s report and having regard to those matters set out at section 3.14(6) of the SEPP, the Panel may determine the application by issuing a SCC or refusing to do so.
For matters relating to the Planning Panels please contact the Planning Panels team on:
Phone: (02) 8217 2060 Or email: [email protected]
The department provides assistance to the planning panels in managing complaints.
View more information on the department's complaint management process.
Dissatisfaction with determinations of the planning panels will not be regarded as a complaint.
Complaints will be recorded in the department’s Complaints Register and will be allocated to the appropriate level for investigation and response.
If you are not satisfied with a response, you can ask for the issue to be considered by a more senior officer.
Code of conduct complaints will be dealt with under the Planning Panels Code of Conduct. The NSW Ombudsman can also accept complaints.
At any time, a customer can complain to external bodies such as the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), the Ombudsman, or the Audit Office of NSW.
If you have allegations of corrupt conduct, misconduct, or serious waste of resources, you are encouraged to approach these organisations directly.
Complaints about council, councillors or council staff should be directed to the relevant council.
- The Northern Regional Planning Panel was created in July 2009, it was originally known as the Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel
- The Southern Regional Planning Panel was created in July 2009, it was originally known as the Southern Joint Regional Planning Panel
- The Hunter and Central Coast Regional Planning Panel was created in July 2009, it was originally known as the Hunter and Central Coast Joint Regional Planning Panel
- The Western Regional Planning Panel was created in September 2009, it was originally known as the Western Joint Regional Planning Panel
- The Sydney East Joint Regional Planning Panel was created in July 2009 and ceased in November 2016
- The Sydney West Joint Regional Planning Panel was created in July 2009 and ceased in November 2016
- The Sydney North Planning Panel was created in November 2016
- The Sydney South Planning Panel was created in November 2016
- The Sydney Central City Planning Panel was created in November 2016, it was originally known as the Sydney West Central Planning Panel
- The Sydney Eastern City Planning Panel was created in November 2016, it was originally known as the Sydney Central Planning Panel
- The Sydney Western City Planning Panel was created in September 2017 by merging the Sydney West and Sydney South West Planning Panels which were created in November 2016.