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The NSW Planning Assessment Commission is constituted under section 23B of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) and is an independent panel of experts in planning, architecture, the environment, urban design, land economics, traffic and transport, law, engineering, tourism, heritage or government and public administration.


Section 23B of the EP&A Act sets out the functions of the Commission.  The key functions include:

  • To determine applications for major developments under delegation from the Minister;
  • To review any major development including conducting of public hearings; and 
  • To provide independent expert advice on planning and development matters.


The Commission determines State Significant Development and infrastructure applications and transitional Part 3A applications. A Ministerial delegation applies which defines the types of application that will be referred to the Commission by the Department of Planning and Environment.


The Commission carries out a review of any aspect of a State significant development including the holding of a public hearing, as requested by the Minister for Planning or Secretary of the Department of Planning and Environment. Each review will have its own terms of reference which sets out what the Commission is being asked to review.


The Commission provides independent expert advice on a range of planning and development matters, when requested. Requests for advice can come from the Minister for Planning or the Secretary of the Department of Planning and Environment.


On 14 September 2011, an Instrument Of Delegation was issued by the Minister delegating some of his powers and functions to the Planning Assessment Commission.  The instrument was gazetted on 28 September 2011 and commenced on 1 October 2011.

The delegation to determine certain major development applications and modification (other than applications made by or on behalf of a public authority) applies to:

  • Applications where a reportable political donation has been made by a proponent;
  • Applications objected to by the relevant council; and
  • Applications where more than 25 objection submissions received by the Department of Planning and Environment.

Constitution of the Commission for particular matters

The Minister may direct the number of members to be constituted for a matter (Clause 268B of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000).

On 14 September 2011, the Minister directed that, when exercising its delegated functions, the Commission be constituted by:

  • at least two members, nominated by the Chair, for:
    •  the determination of development applications, project applications and concept plan applications; and
    •  the making of a local environmental plan under section 59 of the EP&A Act in circumstances where section 89E of the EP&A Act applies;
  • at least one member, nomination by the Chair for:
    •  the purposes of determining a modification application; and
    •  the making of an order to amend an environmental planning instrument under section 75R(3A) of the EP&A Act.

This Ministers Direction came into force 1 October 2011.

On 23 October 2013, the Minister directed that, the same members to review a proposal (including if holding a public hearing) be appointed to determine the same proposal unless they are (for any reason) unavailable.

This Ministers Direction came into force on 1 November 2013.