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New South Wales Government Stimulus Package

The NSW Government announced a number of support measures to assist NSW businesses in responding to COVID-19. Measures include assistance with payroll tax, waiving of various government fees and charges, changes to planning and building requirements, and arrangements for landlords and tenants.

The package has two components – $700 million in support for the health system and $1.6 billion in support for jobs and small business.

The support for jobs and small business includes:

  • $450 million for the deferral of payroll tax for businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million for three months (the rest of FY 2019-20).
  • $56 million to bring forward the next round of NSW payroll tax cuts which will raise the threshold limit from $900,000 to $1 million in FY 2020-21
  • $80 million to waive a range of fees and charges for small businesses including bars, cafes, restaurants and tradies
  • more than $250 million to bring forward maintenance on public assets including social housing and crown land fencing
  • $500 million to bring forward capital works and maintenance.
  • $10,000 grants for small business to cover business expenses that are not supported by other government funding for example, utilities or council rates. Find out more here
  • Waiving of a range of builder licence and permit fees for a 12 month period. Find out more here.

Planning & Building Support measures

The NSW government has also announced a range of measures to help the building industry stabilise existing work and support ongoing work on site. These include:

  • Extended hours for construction work including weekends and public holidays
  • Extended hours for infrastructure construction work including weekends and public holidays
  • Home businesses may operate 24 hours per day and employ up to five people that are not the occupants of the dwelling
  • Physical copies of planning document are no longer required. Councils will no longer be required to keep physical copies of development applications, Environmental Impact Statements on exhibition, registers of development consents, complying development certificates and construction certificates. These will be available on the NSW planning portal
  • Councils may notify the public of planning matters online instead of the local newspaper
  • Planning System Acceleration Program which includes:
    • Fast-track assessments of State Significant Developments, development applications (DAs) and rezoning.
    • Support for councils and planning panels to fast-track locally and regionally significant DAs
    • Expanding the list of works that can be carried out without the need for planning approval, or under the fast-tracked complying development pathway
    • Introduction of a ‘one stop shop’ for industry to progress projects that may be ‘stuck in the system’
    • Additional Acting Commissioners Clear will be assigned to the Land & Environment Court to deal with the current backlog of cases.
    • A $70 million investment (Accelerated Infrastructure Fund (AIF) to co-fund new community infrastructure in North West Sydney that are currently on local infrastructure plans, to force downward pressure on Sec. 7.11 levies.

Updates to NSW Planning Rules under the COVID-19 Response

Medium Density Pilot Program

The NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) has released an EoI for builders to participate in a pilot program to revitalise existing lots owned by LAHC. The aim of the program is to build new dual occupancy, townhouses and manor homes on 50 existing sites, all to be approved under the Low-rise Medium Density Housing Code

Tender documentation can be downloaded here.

Fast Tracked Assessments

On 28 April the Department of Planning Industry and Environment announced the first 24 projects that would be fast-tracked through the planning system. The department also released the criteria that is being used to determine if a project qualifies for fast tracked assessment.

You can view the full criteria and more information about this process here.

On 13 May 2020 several amendments to planning legislation passed NSW parliament under COVID-19 Legislation Amendment Bills. Some of the updates are as follows:

Lapsing of consents

Existing development consents which would have lapsed between 25 March 2020 and 25 March 2022 have been extended for two years.

All new consents will continue to be granted a minimum lapse period of five years.

The Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 was also amended to clarify what does not constitute commencement of works including the following:

  • creating a bore hole for soil testing,
  • removing water or soil for testing,
  • carrying out survey work, including the placing of pegs or other survey equipment,
  • acoustic testing,
  • removing vegetation as an ancillary activity,
  • demolishing a building as an ancillary activity, and
  • marking the ground to indicate how land is to be developed.

Existing use rights

Existing use rights have been extended from 12 months to three years to overcome issues that might have occurred due to an existing business needing to shut down during COVID-19.

Appeals

A development consent decision can now be appealed in court up to 12 months after the decision, if the decision is made between 25 September 2019 and 25 March 2022.

Contributions and levies

During the next six months the Minster may make an order in regards to the time for when a contribution or levy is to be paid.

Six-month moratorium on residential tenancy evictions

The NSW Government is introducing measures to help landlords and tenants work together. The support package includes a six-month moratorium on landlords making applications for evictions due to rental arrears:

  • for tenants who are financially disadvantaged by COVID-19, and
  • where landlords and tenants try to negotiate rental reductions in good-faith and
  • it would not be fair and reasonable in the circumstances to terminate the tenancy.

As well the moratorium on applications for forced evictions due to rental arrears, the package will also immediately:

  • put a 60 day stop on new termination notices and termination applications to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal where these are for terminations due to rental arrears as result of a household being unable to pay their rent due to the COVID-19 emergency
  • extend notice periods for certain other lease termination reasons to 90 days.

The support package is available to tenants who can prove they have been impacted by COVID-19. The tenant is considered to be impacted by COVID-19 when one or more rent-paying members of the household:

  • have lost their employment, income or work hours due to COVID-19 business closures or stand-downs, or
  • have had to stop working or substantially reduce work hours due to illness with COVID-19 or to care for a household or family member with COVID-19, and
  • this resulted in a reduction in the weekly household income (including government assistance) of at least 25%.