Creating a transparent and accountable planning system is an ongoing priority of the NSW Government.
The Department of Planning and Environment regularly consults with the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the NSW Ombudsman, and others about its approach to address corruption in the system. It also actively works to make the planning system more transparent and accountable.
We are have finalised a proposal that seeks to support councils to manage potential conflicts of interest. This relates to situations where a council is the applicant developer (whether lodged by or on behalf of the council), landowner or otherwise holds a commercial interest in the land, as well as the consent authority and regulator.
This is in response to concerns identified by the NSW Ombudsman in its report: An inherent conflict of interest councils as developer and regulator (December 2020) that this dual role creates an inherent potential for conflicts of interest, and that it is a systemic issue that needs to be addressed.
The Department worked with Local Government NSW (LGNSW) and other key agencies to develop a response to the Ombudsman’s concerns. This includes changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2021 to require councils to:
- have a policy that sets out how they propose to manage any potential conflicts of interests that may arise in these circumstances,
- consider this policy before determining any development applications that are council-related,
- publicly communicate any management approach(es) that the council proposes to implement (if any) for each development by publishing a management statement, together with the development application when it is exhibited.
- Council-related development applications need to be exhibited for at least 28 days.
Councils’ conflict of interest policy will need to comply with the Council-related Development Application Conflict of Interest Guideline prepared by the department and available on the NSW Planning Portal.
Councils will have until 3rd April 2023 to have a Conflict of Interest policy in place.
To support councils in implementing the proposed changes, the Department has prepared a Council-related Development Applications Conflict Of Interest Guidelines; a Sample Policy and a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) paper.
The proposed conflict of interest framework was exhibited from Friday 29 April to Monday 30 May 2022.
For further information please contact [email protected]