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New legislation to amend the LG Act and EPA Act in response to COVID-19


Physical copies of planning documents no longer required

The COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures) Bill 2020 removed the requirement for planning decision makers including Councils to display physical copies of some documents.

These documents will now be available online via the NSW Planning Portal and local council websites.

Digital documents include development applications, planning proposals, Environmental Impact Statements on exhibition, registers of development consents, complying development certificates and construction certificates.

Current exhibition periods will be unaffected, and documentation that is required to be made physically available will be made available online for the duration of exhibition periods.

New Ministerial Order power

Today, the NSW Government introduced the COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures) Bill 2020, which made changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

The changes allow the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces to make an order for development to be carried out without the normal planning approval in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 The Minister for Planning and Public Spaces has made the first order under the new COVID-19 legislation. The Environmental Planning and Assessment (COVID-19 Development – Extended Operation) Order 2020 was made on 25 March 2020.

Retail trading and operating hours and waste disposal

The order allows for retail premises such as supermarkets, pharmacies and corner stores to operate 24 hours per day.

This provides retailers the flexibility to adjust and extend their hours of operation to ensure that the community has easy access to food, medical supplies and essential household goods while the pandemic continues.

The order also allows for waste disposal from retail premises at any time.  

Home businesses operating hours

The order also allows home businesses to operate 24 hours per day and to employ more than two people other than the permanent residents of the dwelling, but not more than five people, providing they can abide by social distancing rules.

All other conditions still apply, and home businesses must take steps to ensure that they have no adverse impact on the amenity of the neighbourhood including noise, smell, fumes or waste products.

The list of Ministerial orders currently in force will be updated progressively. Orders can be found on the NSW Government Gazette.

These measures will be kept in place until the crisis is over, and reviewed as new issues arise.


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