Big changes in Planning have come into effect – time to get to know your Local Planning Panel

In what is a monumental centralisation of the planning system in NSW, Planning NSW has made it mandatory from 1 March for all Sydney councils and Wollongong City Council to establish Local Planning Panels. Planning NSW tells us that these panels are part of ‘an updated, modern planning system that is simpler, faster and designed to ensure high quality decision and planning outcomes for the people of NSW.’ (

But just how ‘local’ is a Local Planning Panel? According to Planning NSW, ‘the Minister for Planning, the Hon Anthony Roberts MP has appointed independent, expert Chairs for Councils to appoint to their Panel. Councils will also choose two expert members to appoint to its Panel from a pool established by the Department of Planning and Environment and approved by the Minister for Planning. It will be up to Councils to recruit and appoint community members to the Panels. … The referral criteria for both development applications and planning proposals have been set by the Minister for Planning.’ ( Doesn’t sound very ‘local’ to me!

Neil Macindoe, Planning Convenor, would like to draw members’ attention to the new Local Planning Panel for City of Sydney, established in February. At the time of going to press, the panel will have met on 28 March and there was nothing from Glebe on the agenda. The information below is taken from the City’s website.


[Extract from City of Sydney Council webpage:]

Local planning panels are independent committees appointed by councils to determine certain development applications. These panels are not subject to the direction or control of the council, except on matters relating to panel procedures or to the time the panel must deal with a matter consistent with a ministerial direction issued under section 117 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

The City of Sydney Local Planning Panel was established by Council resolution on 19 February 2018.

The City’s Local Planning Panel has four members, comprising a chair (nominated by the Minister for Planning), two expert members (selected by Council from a pool of experts approved by the Minister for Planning) and a community representative (selected by Council).

The Minister for Planning has issued a direction under section 9.1 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 that identifies the development applications which are to be determined by local planning panels on behalf of councils in the Greater Sydney region and Wollongong. The referral criteria for the City of Sydney are identified in schedule 3 of the direction.

Agendas and minutes
You can search or browse our Council and Committee meetings archive ( for business papers, minutes and electronic recordings of meetings. The archive includes past papers for the current year.

Code of conduct
All members of the panel are bound by the Code of Conduct for Local Planning Panel Members.

Operational procedures
The Minister for Planning has issued a further direction under Section 9.1 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 setting operational procedures which are designed to ensure that local planning panels meet their obligations in the most efficient and effective manner.

The operations of the panel will be consistent with the operation of Council and its Committees and the Central Sydney Planning Committee.

Speaking at panel meetings
As part of our democratic process, members of the community are invited to speak directly to members of the Local Planning Panel about items on the agenda.

To enable the panel to hear a wide range of views and concerns within the limited time available, we encourage people interested in speaking at meetings to:

  • register to speak by calling Council on 9265 9394 before 12 midday on the day of the meeting
  • check the recommendation in the agenda report before speaking, as it may address your concerns already and you only need to indicate your support for the recommendation
  • note there is a three minute time limit for each speaker (with a warning bell at two minutes) and prepare your presentation to cover your major points within that time
  • avoid repeating what previous speakers have said and focus on issues and information that the panel may not already know
  • if there is a large number of people interested in the same item as you, try to nominate three representatives to speak on your behalf and to indicate how many people they are representing
  • be prepared to quickly return to the microphone and respond briefly to any questions from panel members, after all speakers on an item have made their presentations.

At the start of each Local Planning Panel meeting, the Chair may re-order agenda items so that those items with speakers can be dealt with first.

Richard Pearson
(Alternate – Abigail Goldberg)
Alternate – Steven Layman)

Expert members
Helen Lochhead
Shaun Carter
(Alternate – Steve Kennedy)
(Alternate – Peter Romey)

Community representative
Amelia Thorpe
(Alternate – John McInerney AM)

[Editor’s note: referral criteria, code of conduct and operational procedures referred to above can be found in Planning NSW’s Rules for Mandatory Local Planning Panels, here:]