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Thursday, 10 August 2017

Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels (IHAPs) are now mandatory for all councils in Greater Sydney and Wollongong after the Bill passed the NSW Parliament.

The NSW Government introduced the Environmental Planning and Assessment and Electoral Legislation Bill as a safeguard against corruption.

Minister for Planning and Housing, Anthony Roberts, welcomed the passing of the legislation in the Legislative Assembly today after a late night sitting in the Upper House passed the Bill.

Property developers and real estate agents will not be able to sit on the Panels under the amendments.

“This is a fantastic outcome for ratepayers as IHAPs bring transparency, integrity and a high degree of probity to the development application (DA) assessment process.

“These panels, which will consider applications valued at between $5 million and $30 million as well as a range of high-risk development types, will give communities and ratepayers greater certainty about planning decisions”.

“Most importantly, local councils will be able to focus on preparing the strategic plans and development controls that will identify the range and location of development types for their local area.”

The Bill sets a standard model for IHAPs, comprising three independent expert members and a community member.

The community member, to be selected by the Council, will represent the geographical area within the LGA of the proposed development, to provide local perspective.

IHAP members, who will be chosen by Councils from a pool managed by the Department of Planning and Environment, will have to be expert in one or more of the following fields: planning, architecture, heritage, the environment, urban design, economics, traffic and transport, law, engineering, tourism, or government and public administration.

The Chair must also have expertise in law or government and public administration.

The panel members themselves will be subject to statutory rules such as a compulsory code of conduct and operational procedures for the panels.

Local councils will still process most applications for individual houses or alterations to existing houses.

Existing Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels will continue to operate after the upcoming council elections on 9 September.