Fast-track approval process for property developments in NSW

Commercial Directions

The NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces announced on 10 April 2020 how the NSW Government plans to implement a fast-track approval process for developments, aiming to restore developer confidence, keep people in jobs and support the state’s economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Which developments will be fast-tracked?

The NSW Government has indicated that it will prioritise the assessment of State Significant Developments (including hospitals, schools, waste management facilities, energy generating facilities and correctional facilities), planning proposals, rezonings and development applications (DAs) already in the approval system that will have a positive impact on jobs and communities.

How will developments be fast-tracked?

The Minister announced that the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) will divert resources and provide additional support to local councils to fast-track locally and regionally significant DAs. All NSW developers are encouraged to work with peak bodies and prioritise projects that will support the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

State-wide extension of construction hours

The above announcement extends the Minister’s 8 April 2020 initiative to curb productivity losses and keep development projects flowing by extending construction work hours to weekends and public holidays to include public infrastructure projects. The Minister advised:

  • Work may be carried out on construction projects on weekends and public holidays to ensure workers can follow social distancing rules without a loss of productivity or jobs
  • Construction sites must take all feasible and reasonable measures to minimise potential noise impacts. Rock breaking, rock hammering, sheet piling, pile driving or similar activities are not permitted during the extended hours.
  • Property and construction industries are central to the NSW economy. DPIE will continue to work with the industries on the short-term challenges being faced, and the medium-term opportunities for growth and investment generated through a more efficient planning system.
  • The order will be in place until the COVID-19 pandemic is over or another order is made amending these measures
  • Compliance with the order will be closely monitored and changes may be made if there are adverse impacts on the community or from a public health perspective.

Further information / assistance regarding the issues raised in this article is available from the authors, Fiona Nelson – Partner and Wesley Hodgson – Lawyer or your usual contact at Moray & Agnew.

The above content is commentary rather than legal advice and was prepared on the basis of applicable legislation, government programs and initiatives that were in place as of the date of publication. Given the ongoing evolution of both the COVID-19 pandemic and frequent consequential changes to the various laws and programs within all Australian states and territories, readers should seek legal advice on the current situation as applicable to their specific circumstances before taking any action in relation to the above.


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