THE COVID-19 IMPACT ON PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT IN NSW

THE COVID-19 IMPACT ON PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT IN NSW

Ministerial Orders in light of COVID-19

The NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, Rob Stokes, has recently issued a number of Ministerial Orders in response to COVID-19 which effects the way planning and development will occur in NSW for the foreseeable future. Outlined below is a summary of each order and their potential impacts for you or your business.

Environmental Planning and Assessment (COVID-19 Development – Extended Operation) Order 2020

Development under this order may be carried without need for approval under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (EP&A Act) 1979 so long as it complies with the development standards and does not contradict the Public Health Act 2010, or any other relevant Act or legislation.

In particular, this order relates to the operating hours for retail premises and home businesses. Development must be for the operation of premises that are subject to a development consent and must comply with all conditions of that consent except those that restrict the hours of operation or trade. For home businesses, this extends to conditions relating to the number of employees.

Retail premises must take steps to reduce noise when operating outside the hours of operation / trade that would otherwise apply outside this order. Home businesses must take further steps to protect neighbourhood amenity not just in terms of noise but also smell, fumes or waste products.

Environmental Planning and Assessment (COVID-19 Development – Health Services Facilities) Order 2020

Development specified under this order may be carried out without approval if it complies with the conditions specified for the development. If this order is inconsistent with an order under the Public Health Act 2010, that order prevails.

If not located within the boundaries of an existing health services facility as defined by the Health Services Act 1997, development must have the “consent in writing” of the owner of the land. Development must comply with all conditions of consent other than those that restrict the hours of construction, the frequency or movement of vehicles, noise, or anything “to be done before a building is occupied”. Temporary structures or alterations to a building must not remain in place for more than 4 months after the prescribed period.

Environmental Planning and Assessment (COVID-19 Development – Temporary Workers’ Accommodation) Order 2020

This order applies to land at the Bayswater and Linddell Power Stations respectively. Development specified under this order may be carried out without approval if it complies with the conditions specified for the development. If this order is inconsistent with an order under the Public Health Act 2010, that order prevails.

Development must not accommodate more than 100 people per site, with no more than 5 people per dwelling. It cannot involve any shared dining facilities. Dwellings must be structurally sound and otherwise safe and suitable for habitation.

Measures must be put in place to ensure that:

  • Each dwelling is serviced by a separate bathroom
  • Cleaning is undertaken in accordance with ‘Information about routine environmental cleaning and disinfection in the community – Version 1’ from the Commonwealth Department of Health dated 25 March 2020
  • Occupants maintain a social distance of 1.5m
  • Any food or beverages are delivered to dwellings
  • They are fitted with smoke alarms in accordance with the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000

Buildings which underwent change of use, or any other development, they must be returned to the previous use within 2 months of the prescribed period.

Environmental Planning and Assessment (COVID-19 Development – Construction Work Days) Order 2020

Development specified under this order may be carried out without approval if it complies with the conditions specified for the development. If this order is inconsistent with an order under the Public Health Act 2010, that order prevails.

Development must comply with all conditions other than any that restricts the hours of works or operation on weekends or public holidays. This work must not involve the carrying out of rock breaking, rock hammering, sheet piling, pile driving or similar activities during the hours of work or operation that would not be permitted but for this order. Measures must also be taken to minimise noise.

Environmental Planning and Assessment (COVID-19 Development – Takeaway Food and Beverages) Order 2020

Development specified under this order may be carried out without approval if it complies with the conditions specified for the development. If this order is inconsistent with an order under the Public Health Act 2010, that order prevails.

Development must comply with all conditions of consent, and any provisions in an environmental planning instrument applying to the development in the case of development authorised without consent, other than any that restricts:

  • The hours of trading or operation
  • The use of the premises for food and beverage preparation and sale
  • The use of the premises for food and beverage delivery

There must be sufficient space for customers to a allow a social distance of 1.5m. In this regard, there must not be any seating for customers. Businesses must take steps to protect neighbourhood amenity not just in terms of noise but also smell, fumes or waste products.

Mobile food and drink outlets must:

  • Have the consent of the land owner
  • Not restrict vehicle or pedestrian access or operation of utility services
  • Not be located within the canopy of, or result in damage to, any tree
  • Not result in damage to public property
  • Allow sufficient space for a social distance of at least 1.5m for customers
  • Not include any seating for customers

The full orders can be viewed here: https://www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/Orders.

Further Department Responses

Further to the above orders, the Department of Planning also announced that the NSW Government will “cut red tape and fast-track planning processes to keep people in jobs and the construction industry moving throughout the COVID-19 crisis”. The expansion of the Snowy Hydro 2.0 is one example of this so far.

This Planning System Acceleration Program is said to:

  • Create opportunities for more than 30 000 construction jobs in the next six months
  • Fast-track assessments of State Significant Developments, rezonings and development applications (DAs), with more decisions to be made by the Minister if required
  • Introduce a ‘one stop shop’ for industry to progress projects that may be ‘stuck in the system’
  • Clear the current backlog of cases stuck in the Land & Environment Court with additional Acting Commissioners; and
  • Invest $70 million to co-fund vital new community infrastructure in North West Sydney including roads, drainage and public parks to unlock the construction of thousands of new houses

Further reforms to the planning system are expected to come in the following weeks, of which we will keep you informed.

For all enquiries in relation to these uncertain times, or any planning matters or advice generally, please contact our expert team today. 

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