Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels are now mandatory for many developments in Sydney and Wollongong.
The NSW government has made Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels (IHAPs) mandatory for certain types of development. This change was legislated for in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment Bill, and is designed to bring greater expertise, consistency and integrity to the development application (DA) review process.
Wollongong and 15 Sydney metropolitan councils have already started using IHAPs on a voluntary basis. For many other councils the new requirement means some DAs previously determined under delegation will now be assessed by IHAPs instead.
Who will sit on the Independent Hearing and Assessment Panels?
IHAPs will have four members. Three of the members will be independent professionals with expertise in one or more of the following areas: planning, architecture, heritage, the environment, urban design, economics, traffic and transport, engineering and/or tourism.
The fourth member will a community member offering a local perspective on the geographical area of the proposed development. The chair of each panel must also have expertise in law or government and public administration.
What type of developments will be affected?
IHAPs will be required in cases where:
- DAs have a value between $5 million and $30 million.
- An applicant or owner is the council, a councillor, a member of a councillor’s family, a member of council staff, or a member of the state or Federal Parliament.
- DAs receive 10 or more objections from different households.
- There is a proposed voluntary planning agreement accompanying the DA.
- DAs are seeking to depart by more than 10% from a development standard.
- There is a high risk of corruption associated with the DA, such as residential buildings assessed under SEPP65; demolition of heritage assets; licensed places of public entertainment; sex industry premises; and any designated development (as set out in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 – currently under review).
Applications to modify existing consents covered by the above criteria will also be assessed by IHAPs.