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Updates to NSW Planning Rules under the COVID-19 Response

May 18, 2020

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. 


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.

If you would like further information or have suggestions for how the planning system could be improved to help deal with the economic fall out of COVID-19 please send your suggestion to or call 1300 650 620.