Summer Session 2015-16 lec > subject pages > local government and planning

The Local Government and Planning course examines the bodies of law which regulate the establishment, status, powers, operation and accountability of local councils and the environmental and planning laws which regulate the use of land, the subdivision of land, the erection of buildings, the carrying out of works, and the demolition of buildings or works.

The enactment of the Local Government Act 1993 largely broke the prescriptive approach of its predecessor, the Local Government Act 1919.  It presented major challenges and opportunities to Local Government. 

The Local Government Act 1993 was amended in 2002, 2004 and 2005 by the insertion of important provisions relating to the consequence of serious corrupt conduct, the discipline of councillors, council staff and other persons and the requirement to adopt a new Model Code of Conduct.

Dramatic changes to the laws regulating development, building, demolition and subdivision came into effect on 1 July 1998.  Further major changes followed, including the new regime of Critical Infrastructure Projects and Major Development Projects involving unprecedented powers for the Minister for Planning under Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 ("the EPA Act"). The current NSW Government, shortly after its election, repealed Part 3A operative from August 2011. Two new statutory regimes now apply to State significant projects.

The control of building and subdivision was brought totally under the EPA Act on 1 July 1998.  A single, but multi-faceted, system for all applications was created.  The “one-stop-shop” approach was further implemented by linking the approvals, licences or other defined forms of authorisation required under other legislation with a single development consent.  Development which requires such other authorisation was defined as “integrated development”.

Major changes to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 were legislated in June 2008 which introduced new decision making bodies and made other changes.

The current State Government, elected in March 2011, has implemented a major election promise to repeal Part 3A. Projects which were dealt with under Part 3A will be treated as either State significant development or State significant infrastructure. There are other significant changes which will be discussed in the course.

The course encompasses one of the fastest growing areas of NSW law and practice and addresses the operation and effects of the various changes which are of vital importance to lawyers who specialise, or are developing specialisation, in the field of local government, environmental and planning law. It also covers alternate dispute resolution in those fields.

Local councils have many roles as:

  • legally elected entities, accountable to their communities;
  • providers of vital services;
  • regulators;
  • agencies of other spheres of government;
  • creatures of statute, accountable to the State government;
  • organisations with a history;
  • major employers.

The aim of the Local Government and Planning course is to enable students, through lectures, study and practical course exercises, to explore and understand the wide variety of laws under which councils operate as regulators and providers of vital services to their communities.  This knowledge and expertise will not only assist them in local government and planning legal practice but also will provide invaluable expertise in various aspects of conveyancing practice.


Lecture and weekend school timetables, prescribed materials, and assignment information are in the Subject Guide. Assignments and Supplementary Materials (where applicable) can be accessed by current students from the Webcampus.








Law Extension Committee
The University of Sydney
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This page last updated on 12 October 2015


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