_MINISTERIAL DIRECTION 15: PLANNING SCHEME AMENDMENTS
Amendments to planning schemes (such as rezonings) often involve long, drawn out processes with few statutory time frames. One could be forgiven for thinking that key steps in the process appear to be at the whim of the relevant planning authority. There has been a call from many in the industry to make the system more efficient and provide greater certainty on time frames.
It is, with great anticipation therefore, that we note that the Minister for Planning has announced a new Ministerial Direction (Number 15) dealing with the timing of various steps in the planning scheme amendment process. The Direction requires, amongst other things, that:
- a planning authority must give notice of (advertise) an amendment within 40 business days of receiving authorization to prepare the amendment;
- a planning authority must set a date for a Directions Hearing and a Panel Hearing before the amendment is advertised;
- a planning authority must request the appointment of a Panel within 40 business days of the closing date for submissions (unless a Panel is not required);
- a Panel must commence within 20 business days of its appointment;
- a Panel must provide its report to the planning authority:
– within 20 business days of the last hearing day if a 1 person Panel;
– within 30 business days of the last hearing day if a 2 person Panel;
– within 40 business days of the last hearing day if a 3 or more person Panel;
- if no submissions are referred to a Panel then the planning authority must make a decision to abandon or adopt the amendment within 60 business days of the closing of submissions;
- if a Panel was appointed to consider submissions, the planning authority must make a decision to abandon or adopt the amendment within 40 business days of receiving the Panel report;
- a planning authority must submit an adopted amendment to the Minister for Planning within 10 business days of the date the amendment was adopted.
- the Minister for Planning must make a decision on the amendment within 40 business days of receiving the adopted amendment.
The Minister may grant an exemption from the need to comply with one or more of the requirements of the Direction.
Whilst the addition of some specific time frames in the planning scheme amendment process is welcome, there does not appear to be any sanction or penalty if they are not complied with in accordance with the Direction. What action can a proponent take if the planning authority or Panel does not meet these time lines? How often will planning authorities and Panels be seeking from the Minister to seek exemptions to the time limits expressed in the Direction? We will be monitoring the implementation of Direction 15 with interest.