Local Planning Panels were introduced by the NSW Government in 2018, across Councils in Sydney, Wollongong and the Blue Mountains.

The focus of the panel is on the determination of development applications that are contentious. Planning proposals are also required to be referred to the Local Planning Panel for advice.

On this page

Criteria that prompts a referral to the planning panel
Panel composition
Blue Mountains Local Planning Panel members
Register of pecuniary interests
What happens at a planning panel meeting

Criteria that prompts a referral to the planning panel

The referral criteria and operational procedures for panels are set by the Minister for Planning.

Development applications are referred to the Local Planning Panel for determination where the proposal:

Involves a departure from development standards.

Meets the definition of contentious development.

Is classified as sensitive development.

Where there is a conflict of interest.

Detailed referral criteria for development applications is set out in the Ministerial Direction. The panel also has the authority to direct delegation back to Council staff based on certain criteria. Such as modifications to an application, etc.

The referral criteria for planning proposals is set out in a separate Ministerial Direction

Panel composition

A Local Planning Panel has 4 members, comprising a chair (nominated by the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces), 2 expert members (selected by Council from a pool of experts approved by the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces) and a community representative (selected by Council).

The chair and two alternatives are appointed by the Minister for Planning, based on their expertise in law, or government and public administration. Nine experts were selected for the Blue Mountains panel across a range of disciplines including: environment, architecture, heritage, landscape architect, urban design, engineering and planning. A pool of community representatives from across the four wards was established by the Council after an expression of interest process.

Blue Mountains Local Planning Panel members

Listed are the panel members for the Blue Mountains. The Chair determines which experts and which community representatives are to hear a matter prior to the meeting.

Name Area
Julie Savet Ward Julie has 30 years of planning, environment and communications expertise. She holds a Bachelor of Science (Applied Physical Geography) (Hons) and a Master of Landscape Planning, both through the University of NSW. She is currently a Director of the NSW Environment Protection Authority and Morrison Low, an Australiasian management consultancy.
Alternate Chairs
Kevin Hoffman Former Commissioner of the NSW Land and Environment Court
Mary-Lynne Taylor Solicitor and Honorary Fellow of the Planning Institute of Australia and Fellow of the Australian Property Institute; Adjunct Professor at the University of Sydney in the faculty of Architecture in Urban and Regional Planning
Expert Members
Nicholas Skelton Environmental expertise
Ron Edgar Architecture / heritage expertise
Kim Crestani Architecture / heritage / planning expertise
Matthew Taylor Landscape / heritage / urban design expertise
Chris Hallam Engineering / traffic expertise
Linda McClure Planning expertise
Peter Brennan Planning expertise
Stephen Leathley Planning expertise
Deborah Sutherland Planning expertise
Community Representatives
Claire Cook Ward 1
Tanya McLean Ward 1
Jennifer Scott Ward 2
Narelle Wheatland Ward 3
Robert Kell Ward 4

Register of pecuniary interests

All members of the panel are bound by a Code of Conduct. Under the code, each panel member is required to disclosure pecuniary interests in a written return. These returns are available for online viewing in a register of pecuniary interests and other matters.

What happens at a planning panel meeting

The Chair presides over panel meetings and other business. The Chair may also elect to attend site inspections for development applications and planning proposals to be considered at the public meeting.

The following procedures apply to public meetings:

The meeting of the local planning panel is recorded, with reports, determinations and recordings published online.

Representations can be made by the applicant and objectors. The Chair may question speakers, the applicant, staff or discuss with other members the planning points of the application. Time limits are generally imposed on presentations. Where there are a number of objectors with a common interest, the panel may, in its absolute discretion, hear a representative of those persons.

The Chair may choose to adjourn the public meeting to deliberate before reconvening for voting and determination or, close the public meeting for deliberation and / or voting and determination.

The determination once made will be published online. This will usually be within 48 hours of the meeting date.

Where a quorum for a meeting or other business is not present, the meeting or other business is deferred.

The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (in Schedule 2, Part 5) also allows panel members to consider and determine an application or proposal by electronic means. The decision to hold an electronic determination of panel members is at the discretion of the Chair. This discretion is generally applied to applications or proposals that are relatively minor in nature and have received no objections. Such determinations are not open to representations. At these sessions, the Chair may question staff or discuss with other members the planning points of the application, before making a determination. Once made, the determination and a recording of the meeting, is published online.