Sydney Planning Panels

Each of the districts in Greater Sydney has a Sydney Planning Panel to determine regionally significant development applications and to consider rezoning reviews. Sydney Planning Panels replaced the Sydney East and Sydney West Joint Regional Planning Panels on 21 November 2016.

A key outcome of the Sydney Planning Panels is to improve the timeframes for the determination of development applications and rezoning reviews (formerly pre-gateway reviews). 

Sydney Planning Panels

Legislation governing planning panels is set out in a number of separate areas:

The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (EP&A Act) provides for the constitution and functions of planning panels and obligations in respect to council; in particular:

Schedule 4 of the EP&A Act (Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979) provides for Joint Regional Planning Panel member appointments (A Sydney Planning Panel is taken to be a Joint Regional Planning Panel under the Act), and
Schedule 4A of the EP&A Act describes the classes of development to be determined by the planning panels; 

The Greater Sydney Commission Act provides for Sydney Planning Panel member appointments

The EP&A Regulation contains provisions for where a planning panel is exercising consent authority functions; and

The Sydney Planning Panels:

  • Determine regionally significant development applications (generally development with a capital investment value of more than $20M) within the Greater Sydney Region (as defined in the GSC Act)
  • Consider rezoning reviews, through which proponents can request a review if a council decides not to support a rezoning request or doesn’t make a determination within 90 days.

These are the same functions as the former Sydney East and Sydney West Joint Regional Planning Panels.

The Sydney Planning Panels will not replace the Central Sydney Planning Committee for the City of Sydney.

Each of the Sydney Planning Panels comprise five members:

  • A Greater Sydney Commission District Commissioner – the Chair
  • Two state government appointed representatives
  • Two council appointed representatives

A panel meeting may require consideration of a number of matters, each located in different council areas.  The council members will change, depending on the council area in which the matter under consideration in located.

The draft District Plans will be a matter the Sydney Planning Panels must take into consideration when reviewing local environmental plans and considering rezoning review requests, as part of the strategic basis for future land use outcomes.

Any development application or pre-Gateway (rezoning) review lodged prior to, but not determined by, 21 November 2016 will be determined by the relevant Sydney Planning Panel.

Where the Sydney East or Sydney West Joint Regional Planning Panel had been appointed as the relevant planning authority for a rezoning prior to 21 November 2016 that function will transition to the relevant Sydney Planning Panel.

Two council members are appointed by each council.  At least one council member is required to have expertise in one or more of the following areas: planning, architecture, heritage, the environment, urban design, land economics, traffic and transport, law, engineering or tourism.

The role of council staff remains unaltered under Sydney Planning Panels.  The council staff are to undertake the assessment of the development application.  The assessment of an application includes the acceptance of development application, notification, advertising, consultation, concurrence obtaining general terms of approval from government agencies and consideration of matters set out in Section 79C of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act.

Council staff are responsible for post-determination functions including issuing the notice of determination, advising any person who made a submission on the application of the determination.

The Department will continue to review planning proposals, issue Gateway determinations and make LEPs as a delegate of the Greater Sydney Commission until advised otherwise. The existing plan making delegations to local government remain in place.

If you require further information about the operation of Sydney Planning Panels please visit the Joint Regional Planning Panels website or contact the Joint Regional Planning Secretariat on 9228 2060 or at