This is the second of four briefing papers the Parliamentary Research
Service intends to publish on the proposed reform of the planning system in
NSW. Appendix 1 presents an overview of the proposed system as set out in the
Planning White Paper and the relevant Exposure Bills.
In April 2013 the NSW Government entered a new stage of its ongoing reforms
to the planning system with the release of A New Planning System for NSW:
White Paper and two associated Exposure Bills. These documents set out in
detail the proposed changes to the planning system. Infrastructure is the focus
of a number of major changes, and the reforms are intended to bring about more
coordinated and efficient infrastructure planning. This paper considers several
aspects of infrastructure planning and delivery under the proposed planning
system, and the response from a number of key stakeholders.
The key points of difference between infrastructure planning under the
current system and that proposed in the White Paper according to the NSW
Government are set out in Table 1 below. A summary of each reform is provided
Table 1 – Summary of changes to infrastructure
· Declared PPI up front by Minister when identifying infrastructure project
· Approval not required once declared PPI
· Subsequent PPI assessment focussed on identifying, avoiding and mitigating
Growth Infrastructure Plans will stand outside the formal strategic planning
hierarchy. Their precise relationship with strategic plans is unclear, but the
White Paper states that GIPs will be prepared concurrently gith Subregional
Delivery Plans. As outlined in the Planning Bill, GIPs will be prepared by the
Director-General (the White Paper comments that they will be “prepared by
the NSW Government including UrbanGrowth NSW”), and made by the Minister.
Growth Infrastructure Plans will form the basis of spatial infrastructure
planning, a process in which the infrastructure needs of an area are considered
as a totality and incorporating a number of infrastructure agencies. They will
prioritise infrastructure works in an area, and require the concurrence of the
Treasurer or Secretary of the Treasury. As specified in the Planning Bill,
Growth Infrastructure Plans must also “identify the regional
infrastructure for which a regional infrastructure contribution may be
imposed,” as well as contain a contestability assessment. [3.0]
Contestability assessments are a new element of the infrastructure planning
process proposed under the planning reforms. These assessments will consider
opportunities for the private sector to design, deliver and operate regional
and local infrastructure solutions for new greenfield developments or urban
renewal precincts. [4.0] Growth Infrastructure Plans will contain
contestability assessments for infrastructure, and in some instances local
governments will also conduct these assessments.
Much of the detail regarding contestability assessments has not yet been
made public. However the White Paper comments that Infrastructure NSW will lead
the assessments, and that they are expected to lead to greater efficiency and
better value for money in the procurement and operation of infrastructure.
Public Priority Infrastructure
The White Paper identifies two streams of major infrastructure development.
Projects identified as Public Priority Infrastructure will be those considered
essential to the State’s economic, environmental or social well-being.
Public Priority Infrastructure will not require approval after it has been
declared as such by the Minister, and will have a streamlined assessment
process; assessment will focus on identifying, avoiding and minimising impacts
arising from the project. [5.0]
The second stream is called State Infrastructure Development. This is little
changed from the current State Significant Infrastructure and, for that reason,
is not considered in detail in this paper.
Under both the current and proposed planning system, developers can be asked
to make monetary contributions or provide works-in-kind for infrastructure to
meet a need generated by new development.
The White Paper proposes reforms to the way that contributions towards
infrastructure to service new development will be collected and spent. This
will include the collection of contributions for regional infrastructure at a
regional level, and modifications to the way that local infrastructure is
Contributions towards regional infrastructure are to be collected under the
provisions of a Growth Infrastructure Plan, while local infrastructure
contributions will come under Local Infrastructure Plans (which will be part of
local plans). [6.0]