The Minister for Planning has directed Local Planning Panels to comply with the following operational procedures effective on 1 March 2018:
PART 1 - Panel composition
1.1 Chair selection and rotation
1. The chair and any alternate chairs are to rotate presiding over panel meetings, or other business, as practicable, unless the chair or alternative chair is unavailable for any reason.
2. Where possible, deferred matters should be considered by the chair that presided over the original deferment.
1.2 Independent expert members and alternates
1. The independent expert members and alternate members can be interchanged as needed by the chair for that meeting for reasons including:
a. a member has a conflict of interest,
b. a member is unable to attend on the day, or
c. to periodically rotate the members.
1.3 Community representatives for wards and use of alternates
1. A community representative member can be interchanged as needed by the chair or alternate chairs for reasons including:
a. a member has a conflict of interest,
b. a member is unable to attend on the day, or
c. to periodically rotate the members.
PART 2 - Reviews of panel decisions
1. The determination of a review application from a panel decision shall be determined by different members of the panel to those who made the original determination.
PART 3 - Meeting procedures
3.1 Role of chair
1. The chair is responsible for the management of the panel's functions and operations, including managing conflicts of interest.
2. The chair is to preside over panel meetings and other business.
3. The chair is to ensure the panel fully discharges its responsibilities under the EP&A Act, these operational procedures, any other directions from council, and the code of conduct for local panel members in a timely manner.
4. The chair is responsible for the good and orderly conduct of the panel meetings and may do all things and take all steps necessary to control the good and orderly conduct of any meeting of the panel or site inspection carried out by the panel in the performance of its functions.
5. The chair is to determine which alternative chair, independent expert members or alternates, and which community representative or alternates are to hear a matter prior to the meeting commencing. The chair may make arrangements with the general manager (or delegate) to determine independent expert members or alternates, and which community representatives or alternates are to hear a matter.
3.2 Role of alternate chairs
1. Alternate chairs have the same role as the chair when presiding over a panel meeting or any other business.
3.3 Meeting procedures
1. The panel may determine detailed procedures for the execution of efficient and effective meetings.
2. The panel is not bound by the rules of evidence and may inquire into and inform itself on any matter, in such manner as it thinks fit, subject to the rules of natural justice and procedural fairness.
3. The panel is to act with as little formality as the circumstances of the case permit and according to equity, good conscience and the substantial merits of the case without regard to technicalities or legal forms.
4. The panel must give reasonable notice to the public of the times and places of its meetings. This must be through the website used by the panel and may include other mechanisms as appropriate.
5. The panel may:
a. adjourn the public meeting to deliberate before reconvening for voting and determination, or
b. close the public meeting for deliberation and/or voting and determination.
6. With a view to discharging its responsibilities in a timely manner, the panel may, in its absolute discretion, but otherwise fairly and consistently, impose time limits on presentations by persons other than members of the panel. Where, there are a large number of objectors with a common interest at any public meeting, the panel may, in its absolute discretion, hear a representative of those persons.
7. The panel shall hold meetings as required to meet panel demands and workloads.
8. Where a quorum for a meeting or other business is not present, the meeting or other business is to be deferred.
3.4 Site inspections
1. The chair may elect for the panel to attend site inspections for development applications and planning proposals to be considered at the public meeting.
2. Site visits should be conducted on the same day as a public hearing, if practicable.
3. Site visits are solely to be used to identify and clarify issues with a proposal.
4. At a site visit, a panel member must not offer an opinion on the merit of the proposal, or ask those involved with the assessment of the proposal for their opinion or recommendation.
PART 4 - Other matters
4.1 Obligation to consult with council if adverse financial impacts
1. A panel must not exercise a function that will result in the making of a decision that would have, or that might reasonably be expected to have, a significantly adverse financial impact on a council until after it has consulted with the council.
2. The consultation may be in writing with the council being given a specified time to respond in writing. Where a meeting with the General Manager (or delegate) is to be held to discuss the matter, all relevant panel members should be present and minutes kept of the meeting and its outcomes.
4.2 Interactions with third parties about matters before the panel
1. Panel members are not to discuss any matter that is to be considered by the panel with councillors, the applicant, their consultants, parties who have made a submission, or any other person with an interest in the matter outside of the local planning panel meeting.
2. This does not apply to persons employed by the council to assess the matters to be considered by the panel.
These guidelines are to assist in the governance of Panel meetings, and may be periodically reviewed.
Before the public meeting
1. Agendas for Panel meetings will be made publicly available on Council’s website at least 5 days prior to the meeting.
2. Any interested persons wishing to address the Panel must register with the Panel Secretariat by 12 noon on the business day before the meeting.
3. Unless the Chair permits, any such person must have already lodged a written submission on the subject development application or planning proposal OR must, prior to 12 noon on the business day before the meeting, provide a written summary (no longer than one A4 page) outlining the matters they wish to address the Panel about.
4. At no point is a member of the public, be they an applicant, objector, supporter or resident, to contact any member of the Panel outside the Public Meeting/Site Inspection process that occurs on the day of the meeting. Any attempt to contact a Panel member will be reported to the General Manager in writing.
5. Site inspections shall not take place except as a Panel, and will so far as practicable, be held on the same day as the meeting of the Panel at which the particular matter is to be considered.
6. Council staff may accompany the Panel on site inspections as appropriate.
7. Site inspections are solely to be used to identify and clarify issues with a proposal. The Panel will not receive or invite formal presentations or submissions at site meetings. All presentations and submissions are to occur only in the formal Panel meeting.
The public meeting
8. A public meeting of the Panel will generally be held monthly on the last Tuesday of each month, commencing at 2.00pm.
9. Council’s assessing officer will introduce each matter. Speakers at the public meeting shall be heard in the following order:
a) Any persons who wish to make submissions or representations;
b) The applicants or the applicants’ representative.
The Chair or any Panel Member may seek to clarify any matter with the speaker or Council Officer.
10. Unless the Chair otherwise permits, no person who addresses the Panel may speak for more than three (3) minutes in respect to any one matter.
11. Where there are a large number of submitters with a common interest, the Panel may hear a representative of those persons with a view to discharging its responsibilities in a timely manner.
12. The Chair is responsible for the good and orderly conduct of the panel meetings and may do all things and take all steps necessary to control the good and orderly conduct of any meeting of the panel or site inspection carried out by the panel in the performance of its functions.
13. Following the address from the applicants, objectors, supporters and residents for all matters scheduled for that meeting, the Panel will ordinarily deliberate, conclude and determine the matter in the public (open) meeting. However, the Panel may move to a closed session to deliberate for the express purpose of deciding upon its findings, conclusions and decisions. If this occurs, the Panel will return to the public (open) meeting to conclude and determine the matter.
14. There is at this stage of the meeting no further opportunity for debate from members of the public or the applicant and/or their representatives and speakers are not allowed to enter into unsolicited comment or argument with the Panel.
15. Determinations and any relevant decision of the Panel will be by a majority of votes of Panel Members present at a meeting and entitled to vote. If votes are tied, the Chair will have the casting vote. Voting (including the names and vote of each Panel member when the vote is not unanimous) will be documented for the public record.
16. Should the Panel resolve to request additional information or seek amendment to the application, the Panel may defer the application, providing written notification to the applicant with the reasons for deferral; a copy of which will be made publicly available on Council’s website as soon as practicable. Where the Panel has resolved that the amended drawings do not require exhibition, the matter will be referred to the Chair to decide if the matter can be determined electronically, with the report and recommendations made available on Council's website. In all other cases, those who made submissions will be invited to a subsequent Panel meeting upon receipt of amended/additional plans and documentation from the applicant.
17. Should the Panel resolve to approve an application, the Panel shall nominate relevant consent conditions. The conditions may be based on the assessment officer’s recommended conditions but the Panel may also add, delete or change conditions as considered necessary as part of their decision.
18. If the Panel resolves to approve an application against the officer’s recommendation, the application will need to be deferred for Council officers to prepare draft conditions of consent. Following consideration of draft conditions by the Panel, the application may subsequently be determined by electronic means.
19. The Panel will provide a Statement of Reasons for all decisions.
After the meeting
20. All members of the Panel present at the meeting must sign the Determination and Statement of Reasons which will be made publicly available on Council’s website as soon as practicable. Where a member or members are in dissent, they must still sign, as the reasons will set out their dissenting views.
Code of Conduct for Local Planning Panel Members
This code of conduct has been approved by the Minister for Planning (the Minister) for members of Local Planning Panels (panels) under clause 28 of Schedule 2 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act).
This code is based on the Model Code of Conduct for Local Councils in NSW where it would apply to panel members.
Panels are independent panels appointed by councils. Their main functions are to determine development applications and to provide advice on planning proposals. Panels are not subject to the direction or control of the council, except on matters relating to procedures of the panel or the time within which it is to deal with a matter (unless these directions are inconsistent with a direction of the Minister). Panels are subject to any directions made by the Minister under section 9.1 of the EP&A Act.
Failure by a panel member to comply with this code is the responsibility of councils to address. In cases of serious breaches council has the option to remove a panel member from office (clause 16 of schedule 2 of the EP&A Act).
According to the Minister of Planning's direction, Willoughby Local Planning Panel is to determine development applications involving development of a kind specified below:
1. Conflict of interest
Development for which the applicant or land owner is:
(a) the council,
(b) a councillor,
(c) a member of council staff who is principally involved in the exercise of council's functions under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979,
(d) a Member of Parliament (either the Parliament of New South Wales or Parliament of the Commonwealth), or
(e) a relative (within the meaning of the Local Government Act 1993) of a person referred to in (b) to (d).
but not development for the following purposes:
(a) internal alterations and additions to any building that is not a heritage item,
(b) advertising signage,
(c) maintenance and restoration of a heritage item, or
(d) minor building structures projecting from the building facade over public land (such as awnings, verandas, bay windows, flagpoles, pipes and services, and sun shading devices).
2. Contentious development
(a) in the case of a council having an approved submissions policy - is the subject of the number of submissions set by that policy, or
(b) in any other case - is the subject of 10 or more unique submissions by way of objection.
An approved submissions policy is a policy prepared by the council and approved by the Secretary of the Department of Planning and Environment which details the circumstances in which a local planning panel or council staff should exercise the consent authority functions of the council, based on the number and nature of submissions received about development.
3. Departure from development standards
Development that contravenes a development standard imposed by an environmental planning instrument by more than 10% or non-numerical development standards.
Note: If the Secretary allows concurrence to be assumed by council staff for contravening development standards, the panel can delegate these applications to council staff to determine.
4. Sensitive development
(a) Designated development.
(b) Development to which State Environmental Planning Policy No 65 – Design Quality of Residential Apartment Development applies.
(c) Development involving the demolition of a heritage item.
(d) Development for the purposes of new licenced premises, that will require one of the following liquor licences:
(i) a club licence under the Registered Clubs Act 1976,
(ii) a hotel (general bar) licence under the Liquor Act 2007, or
(iii) an on-premises licence for public entertainment venues under the Liquor Act 2007.
(e) Development for the purpose of sex services premises and restricted premises.
(f) Development applications for which the developer has offered to enter into a planning agreement.