In these extraordinary times, advocacy to protect the health and wellbeing of our members and industry is more important than ever.
Yesterday I met with the Department of Planning Industry and Environment (DPIE), along with other peak bodies, to discuss the DPIE response to COVID-19 and advocate on behalf for members.
The DPIE is working on two fronts, the first is the public health response and the second in relation to the role the planning system contributes to facilitating economic activity.
A number of legislative changes have been temporarily adopted in Parliament, the COVID-19 LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (EMERGENCY MEASURES) BILL 2020 (24/03/20). These include:
Physical copies of planning documents no longer required
- The COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures) Bill 2020 removed the requirement for planning decision makers including Councils to display physical copies of some documents.
- These documents will now be available online via the NSW Planning Portal and local council websites.
- Digital documents include development applications, planning proposals, Environmental Impact Statements on exhibition, registers of development consents, complying development certificates and construction certificates.
- Current exhibition periods will be unaffected, and documentation that is required to be made physically available will be made available online for the duration of exhibition periods.
New Ministerial Order power
- Yesterday, the NSW Government introduced the COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures) Bill 2020, which made changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
- The changes allow the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces to make an order for development to be carried out without the normal planning approval in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Minister for Planning and Public Spaces has made the first order under the new COVID-19 legislation. The Environmental Planning and Assessment (COVID-19 Development – Extended Operation) Order 2020 was made on 25 March 2020.
Fast tracking approvals
Local government authorities have been directed to fast track approvals already in the system and nearing completion. This is critical to supporting the ongoing health of businesses as well as the delivery of important projects. Please complete this Institute form if you are aware of specific examples where this is not happening. We will forward the request to the DPIE and continue to advocate on behalf of our members.
For all information about how the Department is responding to COVID-19, visit DPIE COVID-19 response webpage.
To enable close consultation during this challenging time, weekly virtual meetings will support close liaison between peak bodies and government agencies. The group is expected to explore how to continue to progress development applications and proposals, managing social distancing on construction sites, timely/simplified procurement and regulatory changes to assist with the public health crisis.
Resources for your practice and support from your Institute
We understand that COVID-19 is a source of concern for many, from both a health and financial perspective. The Institute has put together a new web page with important information for members. This includes details of support available for businesses and supply chain considerations. We will continue to update this page with important information to assist members.
At both national and state levels, the Institute is working across the wide range of issues and challenges as well as opportunities these times present for members and the profession more broadly. NSW Chapter Manager Kate Concannon and I will provide regular updates via Institute e-news and social channels on our advocacy efforts and resources as we develop them to support your practice.
We hope you, your colleagues and families are keeping safe and well.
NSW Chapter President