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Mandatory Community Participation for Councils

September 23, 2019

Community Participation Plans (CPPs) are now mandatory. They need to be prepared by Councils for their LGA to make it clearer and easier for members of the community to understand how they can participate in planning decisions.

They are intended to be high-level documents which describe how and when a planning authority, such as a Council, will engage with its community on the planning functions it performs. They need to explain to community members how they can have their say on planning decisions that could affect their future.

The requirement to give and publicly notify reasons for decisions came into effect on 1 July 2018. However, all applicable NSW planning authorities (e.g. Councils) will be required to have the final version of their CPP in place by 1 December 2019.

Local planning panels and Sydney district and regional planning panels are now required to give written reasons of their decisions and make them publicly available.

What They Need to Contain

At a minimum, CPPs must:

  • Include details about how and when a council will undertake community participation in relation to relevant planning functions per section 2.21(2) of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979.
  • Comply with the community participation principles per section 2.23(2) of the Act – (which in turn are consistent with the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) framework of engagement and planning).
  • Address the minimum mandatory public exhibition time frames and notification requirements per Schedule 1 of the Act.

These are only the minimum requirements. Councils can go beyond these if they decide it is appropriate.

The form a CPP should take is not prescribed. It is up to Councils to decide the most appropriate approach.

For example, the CCP could be embedded in an existing Community Strategic Plan or Community Engagement Strategy. These are documents councils are already required to develop under the Local Government Act 1993.

Optionally, Councils could prepare a standalone CPP. Potentially, this could follow the example set and recommended by the Department’s own draft CPP.

However, a CPP CANNOT be embedded in a development control plan. Note that this is where councils have previously included public notification requirements for planning decisions.

CPPs are intended to be "high level". They needn't set out the specific engagement strategies or techniques for each type of planning proposal or project.

The Department of Planning & Environment has released some FAQs as well as webinar content to help local councils create and implement CPPs.

What Councils Need to Do

Time needs to be factored in for exhibition (minimum of 28 days) and local reporting cycles. Therefore, Councils should start acting now by:

  • Reviewing any existing engagement plans and exploring any gaps against the CPP minimum requirements.
  • Assessing whether existing documents should be updated or whether a new overarching CPP should be created.
  • Compiling the following matters from existing strategies and plans (or creating them if they don't already exist):
    • Details about how and when council will undertake community participation
    • Council’s alignment with community participation principles
    • Information about mandatory exhibition timeframes and notification requirements.
  • Considering how and when the community will be consulted about this approach
  • Remembering that the CPP needs to be publicly exhibited for a minimum of 28 days and be published on the NSW planning portal by 1 December 2019.

How Centium Can Help

Centium can assist Councils in coming up with their first CPP. Our specialists have decades of experience in this area and can help uplift Councils' consultation practices as part of the CPP development process.

For more information you can contact us and also download the following files;

The Department of Planning and Environment Exhibition Draft October 2018

The Department of Planning and Environment CPP FAQ

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