In 2017 the NSW State Government introduced legislation requiring all councils in the Greater Sydney Region and Wollongong to have Local Planning Panels (LPPs) in place by 1 March 2018.
The principal function of the WLPP is to determine local development applications (DAs) that fall within the following categories: conflict of interest, contentious development, departure from development standards, sensitive development.
The WLPP also provides advice to Council on planning proposals and other matters.
The WLPP is an independent assessment body and is not subject to the instruction or control of Council, except on matters relating operational procedure and matters set out in directions issued by the Minister under the Environmental Planning and Assessment (EP&A) Act 1979.
The function of Council as a consent authority for DAs is no longer exercisable by the Councillors.
Many of the DAs previously determined by Council's Development Control Committee (DCC) will be determined by the WLPP instead. The last DCC meeting was held on Monday 19 February 2018, and the first meeting of the WLPP was held on 26 March 2018.
The following list is a summary of the categories of DAs that the WLPP will be responsible for determining; as set out by the Minister for Planning in February 2018.
For more information, refer to the Ministerial Direction.
Although the principal function of the WLPP is to determine certain types of DAs, the panel will also provide advice to Council on planning proposals (i.e. amendments to the Woollahra Local Environmental Plan 2014 such as rezonings) and any other planning or development matter that Council refers to the panel.
On 28 February 2018, the Minister for Planning approved a direction stating that all planning proposals made after 1 June 2018 must be referred to a WLPP for advice unless the general manager of a council determines it relates to the correction of an error, is minor in nature or will not have any significant adverse impact on the environment or adjoining land.
In undertaking their duties, the Panel members must comply with the Code of Conduct for Local Planning Panel Members and the Operational Procedures as adopted by the Panel.
The behaviour and standards of Panel members are governed by the Code of Conduct for Local Planning Panel Members which has been prepared by the NSW Government and approved by the Minister for Planning under the EP&A Act, under clause 28 of Schedule 2 of the Act.
The Code of Conduct sets out the expected standard of behaviour required of panel members, including managing conflicts of interest and reporting any approaches from developers. It is a key tool in minimising corruption risk in the determination of DAs, and providing advice to Council on planning proposals and other matters.
Failure by a panel member to comply with the Code of Conduct is the responsibility of Council to address. In cases of serious breaches, Council has the option to remove a panel member from office.
The EP&A Act sets out the key requirements for how the WLPP must operate. For example, a notice must be published detailing the time and location of meetings, the panel must conduct its meetings in public and give written reasons for its decisions.
The operational procedures help to ensure that the WLPP meets its obligations in the most efficient and effective manner.
The Woollahra Operational Procedures were adopted on 26 March 2018. The Operational Procedures detail how the WLPP will operate and incorporate:
The Operational Procedures have been developed to ensure that public participation is a key component of the public meeting and to promote open and transparent governance. The procedures cover a range of matters including the meeting procedures (which set out requirements for providing public notice of meetings, how to address the panel, and deliberation and voting).
The WLPP comprises four (4) voting members:
The EP&A Act sets out the membership requirements of the LPPs. The positions on the panel are paid positions and members are appointed on a part-time basis for three years.
The Chair and the two expert members must be qualified in at least one of the following areas: planning, architecture, heritage, the environment, urban design, economics, traffic and transport, law, engineering, tourism, or government and public administration. The Chair must have expertise in at least law or government and public administration.
The Chair is appointed by the Minister.
The other expert panel members (and alternates) have been appointed by Council from a pool of potential panel members approved by the Minister for Planning.
For each meeting, one Chair and two expert members are appointed.
The fourth panel member is a community representative chosen by Council, but cannot be a Councillor.
The community representatives must have knowledge of the area, be able to demonstrate an understanding of the planning process and assessment issues, and be able to represent and communicate the interests of the local community.
In early 2018 Council advertised for the community representative panel members and alternatives. One community representative (and an alternate) was selected by Council for each of the five (5) Wards: Bellevue Hill, Cooper, Double Bay, Paddington and Vaucluse).
WLPP Panel members are:
Meetings are held on the first and third Thursday of each month commencing at 1pm at Woollahra Council, 536 New South Head Road, Double Bay. Check the upcoming meetings calendar for current and future dates.
Applicants and people who make a submission will be notified if an item is being heard by the panel. The panel may elect to undertake site visits in the morning prior to the public meetings commence.
Applicants, people who have made a submission and other interest people can address the panel and submit late correspondence for consideration by the panel. Please refer to the details below for further information.
Register using the appropriate WLPP application to address form.
Please forward your completed form to email@example.com by 12 noon on the Wednesday before the meeting.
Persons will be allowed three (3) minutes in which to address the panel, one (1) warning bell will be rung at the conclusion of two (2) minutes and two (2) warning bells rung at the conclusion of three (3) minutes. Please direct comments to the issues at hand.
At the conclusion of the allocated three (3) minutes, the speaker resumes his/her seat and takes no further part in the debate unless specifically called to do so by the Chair.
Late correspondence may be tabled for consideration by the WLPP.
Late correspondence must be submitted to Council by 12 noon on the Wednesday before the meeting via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The four (4) voting members for each agenda item at the panel meeting will be selected by the Chair from the pool of panel members appointed to the WLPP.
The quorum for a panel meeting is three (3) members.
A decision supported by a majority of the votes cast at a meeting of a WLPP (at which a quorum is present) is the decision of the panel.
The Panel Chair has a deliberative vote and, in the event of tied votes, the Chair has a second or casting vote.
The agenda and individual reports for each meeting are available from Thursday afternoon before the meeting from the following locations:
Limited copies of the agenda will also be available at the meeting.
Minutes will be available three (3) business days after the meeting.
Further information may be obtained by contacting Council's Governance Department on 9391 7001.