NSW Policy and Advocacy Update – January 2022

The year ahead is brimming with opportunities for input into reform policy here in NSW.  We are looking forward to engaging with you and with government to ensure the voices of our profession are consistently heard.  From amendments to the Design and Building Practitioner’s Act to heritage concerns and requests for member feedback, this month’s update contains important changes and key information for our members.


One of our first points of focus is the Design and Place SEPP.  To view the public exhibition  materials click here


Some members of the broader construction industry have been lobbying to have these important reforms recalled from public exhibition in an effort to ensure they do not proceed.  We have collaborated with the Planning Institute of Australia (NSW) calling on the new Minister to hold his ground on this work.  To view our letter to the Minister click here.

We encourage members to individually reach out to the Minister and reinforce this message.  To contact the Minister click here.


Members have the opportunity to provide feedback on any or all aspects of the SEPP for input into our submission any time prior to close of business Friday 11th February 2022.  Please send this input to lisa.king@architecture.com.au.


The NSW Legislative Council’s Portfolio Committee No. 3 – Education is currently conducting an inquiry into the planning and delivery of school infrastructure in New South Wales. The closing date for submissions is Friday 11th February 2022.


To view the terms of reference for the inquiry and information guides click here.


There has been a significant adjustment to the Design and Building Practitioners Act with regard to the fitout of commercial premises in buildings with a Class 2 part.  To view this amendment click here.


In addition to this amendment, we would like to reiterate to our members the importance of Compliance Declarations being completed by the registered design practitioner who has prepared or closely supervised the preparation of the documentation.  The Act states:

“9   Compliance declarations by registered design practitioners

(1)  A registered design practitioner must provide a design compliance declaration to a person if—

(a)  the practitioner provides the person with a regulated design prepared by the practitioner, and

(b)  the design is in a form suitable for use by that person or another person in connection with building work.”

Angus Abadee, Director, Building and Construction Policy explains the intent of this part of the legislation here:

“The Act requires that a practitioner prepare the designs before they sign them off. This means they actually produce the designs themselves or coordinate/supervise the work. What this is intended to capture is where they draw them, or supervise someone who is drawing them, or incorporate specialist advice/drawings into their own work.

What we do not want is people signing off on other people’s work after the fact. That is, they have not been involved in anything until the designs land on their desk with a request to sign them off as compliant. A registered practitioner must be actively involved in the development of the designs before signing them off.

This ensures that the registered practitioner understands fully what they are signing off, as well as discourages clients shopping a set of designs around that are non-compliant looking for someone to sign them off.

In the scenario above, it would be a breach of the Act if the registered person signed them off without having been involved in actually preparing the designs.”


Late last year we released the Expanded Registration Eligibility Criteria – NSW Design and Building Practitioners Act and Regulation.  To find the details click here.

Additionally we released the Compliance Declaration Toolkit to assist practitioners in this new D&BP Act process.  To find it click here.


For other building reform information, find our dedicated NSW Building Reforms webpage can be found here


Finally, we understand the MLC building in Miller Street North Sydney is again under threat.  Despite our strong advocacy for its successful State Heritage listing in 2020, demolition has not been definitively ruled out. To view information about the application click here


The Statement of Environment Effect states:

On or around 2 June 2021, the Minister adopted the IPC’s recommendation and directed the Heritage Council to list the MLC Building on the State Heritage Register under section 32(1) of the Heritage Act 1977. On 4 June 2021, the MLC Building was listed on the State Heritage Register. By virtue of the State Heritage listing being imposed prior to the determination of DA 147/20, this DA has become integrated development for the purposes of Heritage Act 1977, as it seeks to demolish an item listed on the State Heritage Register. On 27 August 2021, IOF Custodian Pty Ltd commenced separate Class 4 judicial review proceedings in the Land and Environment Court challenging the Minister’s decision to direct the listing of the MLC Building on the State Heritage Register. The hearing is currently scheduled for 27-29 April 2022. If successful, the MLC Building may be removed from the State Heritage Register.


We will continue to follow this closely and provide details of opportunities to engage on the importance that the State Heritage listing process should afford protection from demolition for buildings such as this.  More information to come in the following weeks.

Policy and Advocacy NSW