A State significant development application is referred in full to the Independent Planning Commission only after it has been publicly exhibited and assessed by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.
The Department provides the Commission a whole-of-government assessment report, which is published on the Department’s website and the Commission’s website. The Department’s report is not binding on the Commission’s decision.
A public meeting is a meeting to enable the Commission to hear public views on the assessment report.
There is no statutory requirement for the Commission to hold a public meeting before determining an application. The considerations that will guide the Commission in relation to the holding of a public meeting before making a decision on an application are set out in the attached guidelines.
The public meeting does not affect appeal rights under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (EP&A Act).
For further information, please see the Commission’s Public Meeting Guidelines.
The Commission may meet with the applicant, the Department (or other government agencies), the relevant local Council and other interested people before making its decision, if the Commission considers that it is necessary to do so.
Public hearing process
Under the EP&A Act, the Minister for Planning or the Greater Sydney Commission may formally ask the Commission to hold a public hearing in relation to a development application or any other planning matter at any time. If such a request is made, the Commission must hold a public hearing, it is not discretionary.
The Commission will give advanced notice of the date, time and location of the public hearing and invite interested people to apply to speak at the public hearing.
The Commission also has powers to require certain people to attend the public hearing and to give evidence.
Following a public hearing, the Commission will prepare and then publish on its website a report containing recommendations to the Minister. If a public hearing is held, merit appeal rights to the NSW Land and Environment Court are extinguished.
The Commission, in certain circumstances, may hold a separate multi-stage public hearing for some State significant development applications (see below).
For further information, please see the Commission's Public Hearing Guidelines.
Multi-stage public hearing process for State significant development
The Commission is developing the option of conducting a multi-stage public hearing for some State significant development applications, where the Minister has directed a public hearing. This is in an effort to engage the community and the Commission at an earlier stage in the assessment.
The multi-stage public hearing may provide for a simpler, more inclusive, more transparent assessment of State significant development applications, encouraging and promoting greater community input throughout the process. It will also create a balanced and orderly architecture for decision-making, ensuring the Commission hands down its determinations in a timely manner.
The new process will make a very clear distinction between the roles and responsibilities of the Department of Planning and Environment and those of the Independent Planning Commission. Importantly, it allows the Commission to engage with the community much earlier in the assessment process of State significant development applications.
At the conclusion of a multi-stage public hearing for State significant development, the Commission will deliberate and make a final decision to approve or refuse the development application. Once the Commission’s decision has been made, merit appeal rights for both applicants and objectors are not available.
A multi-stage public hearing will only apply to certain State significant development applications after 1 March 2018.
The Commission is currently developing its Multi-stage Public Hearing Guidelines.