Fast-tracking development assessments

for State Significant Developments – Proposed Rapid Assessment Framework

The Minister for Planning and Public Spaces has proposed a series of changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 (NSW) referred to as a Rapid Assessment Framework (RAF) for State Significant Developments (SSD). This framework will introduce a new standardised assessment and approval process for SSD projects.  

Shelter NSW’s submission on the proposed RAF focused on ways to deliver a more equitable city, that includes the capacity to deliver affordable rental housing in one of the most expensive housing markets in the world.

Proposed Environmental Assessment Requirements 

The Government RAF included an environmental assessment template for SSD proposals which it said would provide clear requirements for each significant impact. This, in theory, would produce a higher level of community satisfaction when it gets to the assessment and approval stage. However, based on our experience with the current SSD system with which there is a high level of community dissatisfaction, Shelter NSW feels that a more rapid assessment framework is unlikely to rectify many of the existing problems.

Shelter NSW’s submission suggests that one potential solution to the current system failure would to provide an overlayed ‘Geographic Information System’ (GIS) that could provide a clear line of informed agreement from the SSD proposal, to associated community consultation, right through to the Masterplan and any later stages in the development proposal.

State Significant Development and Affordable Housing 

SSD developments deliver substantial uplift in land value via the associated planning benefits and can also result in a loss of existing affordable housing stock in areas undergoing redevelopment and gentrification. As such, Shelter NSW believes that SSD present a prime opportunity to deliver on the State Government’s 5% to 10% Affordable Housing Targets as outlined in the Greater Sydney Metropolitan and District Plans. 

Registered Environmental Assessment Practitioners Scheme

The Government proposal also included a framework for creating a system of ‘Registered Environmental Assessment Practitioners’ appointed by the Minister. Their role would be to undertake and review the environmental impact of SSD. 

As expressed in our submission, Shelter NSW is concerned that a system of private consultants appointed by the Minister could result in a “power grab” and lead to very poor environmental and social outcomes from a community’s perspective. For this reason, Shelter NSW did not support the proposal to create a system of appointed ‘Registered Environmental Assessment Practitioners’.