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Who we are

The Independent Planning Commission of NSW was established as a standalone agency under Part 2, Division 2.3 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 on 1 March 2018.

The Commission operates independently of other government departments, including the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, and has an important role to play in building community confidence in the decision-making processes for major development and land-use planning state-wide.

The key functions of the Commission are to:

  • determine State significant development applications where there is significant opposition from the community
  • conduct public hearings for development applications and other planning and development matters, or
  • provide independent expert advice on any planning and development matter, when requested by the Minister for Planning or Secretary of the Department of Planning and Environment

Members of the Commission are appointed by the Minister for Planning based on their qualifications and considerable expertise in a diverse range of planning-related fields. One member is appointed as the Chairperson of the Commission. Members are individually appointed for terms of up to three years and cannot serve more than six years in total.

The Commission is not subject to direction or control of the Minister for Planning or any government agency, except in relation to procedural matters as set out under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.


Consent authority

The State’s planning laws clearly identify which State significant development applications are to be determined by the Independent Planning Commission and which are delegated to the Department of Planning and Environment to determine.

The Independent Planning Commission is the consent authority for State significant development applications (including any modification applications), where:

  • there have been 25 or more public objections to the application, or
  • the local council has objected, or
  • a reportable political donation has been made

Importantly, the Independent Planning Commission is the decision maker for these applications, but the Department of Planning and Environment separately carries out the administrative arrangements for them. These administrative arrangements include charging the application fee, publicly exhibiting the application and preparing a report to the Commission about the application. The Department’s report is not binding on the Commission.

The Department of Planning and Environment is the delegated consent authority to make decisions on State significant development applications and modification applications where there are less than 25 objections to the application, local council support, and no reportable political donations.


What else do we do?

The Commission has the following detailed statutory functions:


The functions of the consent authority under Part 4 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 for State significant or other specified development.


To advise the Minister for Planning or the Secretary on any matter on which the Minister or the Secretary requests advice from the Commission.

Public hearing

To hold a public hearing into any matter into which the Minister for Planning requests the Commission to hold a public hearing.

Planning panels

Any function of a Sydney district or regional planning panel or a local planning panel in respect of a particular matter that the Minister for Planning requests the Commission to exercise (to the exclusion of the panel), or if a Sydney district or regional planning panel has not been appointed for any part of the State, any function that would be conferred on such a panel if it had been appointed.

Delegated functions

Any functions under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 that are delegated to the Commission, and any other function conferred or imposed on it under that or any other Act.


Constitution of the Commission for each matter

The Chairperson of the Commission appoints members to constitute the Commission for any particular matter. 

When appointing Members to a Panel to determine a particular development application or provide advice on a planning matter, the Chairperson will ordinarily take the following matters into account:

  • (where possible) ensuring gender balance on panels, particularly for matters where a public meeting or public hearing are being held, and
  • ensuring there is a balance of Members with:  
    • broad governance skills, including leadership experience
    • a good understanding of the NSW planning process (including the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act), and 
    • technical experience relevant to the case

Generally, the Chairperson will appoint:

  • at least two members, for:
    • the carrying out of a public hearing
    • the determination of a development application, or
    • the making of a local environmental plan
  • at least one member, for:
    • the determination of a modification application
    • the making of an order to amend an environmental planning instrument, or
    • preparing expert advice to the Minister for Planning or Secretary of the Department of Planning and Environment
  • the same members to determine an application that were appointed to carry out a public hearing for it unless they are unavailable for any reason, in accordance with the Ministerial Direction (18 October 2013)

    The Chairperson of the Commission is authorised to nominate another member of the Commission to appoint members for any particular matter, and may do so if necessary for any reason.

    Commission secretariat

    The Commission Secretariat provides professional and technical support to the Commission and its members. The Secretariat is the main point of contact for the public and Government agencies. The Secretariat coordinates and facilitates the Commission’s decision-making processes and aims to provide efficient, transparent and high-performing support services.


    Mission, vision and values


    To deliver a high level of independence, expertise and transparency to the assessment and determination of State Significant Development applications in NSW.


    Well executed developments that benefit the people of NSW.


    The Commission’s shared values of engagement, independence and expertise are reflected in the way its members and staff act and carry out their duties.

    Independence We will build the community’s confidence and trust in the Commission’s independence by ensuring our processes are open and transparent, and encouraging and promoting greater community participation throughout the assessment and determination process.

    Expertise We will draw on the considerable experience, expertise and knowledge of our members in planning and related fields to enhance the capabilities of the Commission to best serve the people of NSW.

    EngagementWe seek to encourage and promote greater community participation early in the planning assessment process. We acknowledge and respect there will be differences of opinion on planning projects and take seriously the concerns expressed to us by individuals and groups in affected communities.



    2008 - 2018 Planning Assessment Commission

    The NSW Planning Assessment Commission was established on 3 November 2008 under section 23B of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 to determine applications for major developments, to review and carry out public hearings into any planning related matter and to provide independent expert advice to Government on planning and development matters.

    Members were appointed by the Minister for Planning and had expertise in the fields of planning, architecture, urban design, heritage, the environment, land economics, engineering, traffic and transport, tourism, law, government and public administration.

    Ministerial delegation applied which defined the types of application that were referred to the Commission by the Department of Planning and Environment for determination. These included applications where a reportable political donation had been made by a proponent, applications objected to by the relevant council, and applications where more than 25 objections had been received by the Department of Planning and Environment.

    The Commission also carried out reviews of any aspect of a development and held public hearings if requested to do so by the Minister for Planning or Secretary of the Department of Planning and Environment. Each review had its own terms of reference, which set out the Commission’s review task.

    The Planning Assessment Commission was renamed the Independent Planning Commission on 1 March 2018

    1980 - 2008 Commissioners of Inquiry for Environment and Planning

    The Office of the Commissioners of Inquiry for Environment and Planning was created by the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, 1979 to conduct independent public inquiries into disputes concerning environmental and heritage issues, planning problems and development projects.

    A Commission of Inquiry reported its findings and recommendations to the Minister and to the public. The Minister was required to consider the findings and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry before determining the outcome of a particular development application.

    Four Commissioners including the Chairman were appointed by the Governor of NSW. The Commissioners had qualifications and experience including in the fields of law, planning and development control, building regulation, local government, engineering and environmental control.

    Public hearings were also carried out by the Commission of Inquiry, and after 1988 local councils were also given the power to request inquiries into significant developments where they were the determining authority.

    The Office of the Commissioners of Inquiry for Environment and Planning ceased to exist on 3 November 2008 when the Planning Assessment Commission was created.

    Annual report

    The Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000requires the Commission to provide an annual report on its operations to the Minister for Planning

    2017 - 2018 Annual Report 

    2016 - 2017 Annual Report

    2015 - 2016 Annual Report

    2014 - 2015 Annual Report

    2013 - 2014 Annual Report

    2012 - 2013 Annual Report

    2011 - 2012 Annual Report

    2010 - 2011 Annual Report

    2009 - 2010 Annual Report

    2008 - 2009 Annual Report