Complex, practical or inflexible? Unravelling the background and consequences of the NSW standard instrument local environmental plan

Publication Name

Australian Planner


The 2006 NSW Standard Instrument Local Environmental Plan (SI LEP) aimed to simplify and bring consistency to local planning and land use regulation. Consistent definitions and standard land use zones were features of the changes to local plan requirements. The background to, and unfortunate consequences of, the SI LEP are critically explored. This highlights the tension between conformity, innovation, local autonomy and place-based approaches. A survey of professional practitioners suggests that the hoped-for benefits have not been realised in practice. Key findings are that the SI LEP: (1) has added complexity and length to regulatory plans, (2) increased state government power with no demonstrated land use benefit, (3) is not necessary for consistent state planning and policy implementation, and (4) stifles local creativity, flexibility and place-based land use outcomes especially in non-metropolitan areas. Significant limitations of the SI LEP and its implementation warrant a rethink of statutory land use controls in NSW, including land zoning and plan objectives, land use definitions, and opportunities to support local innovation.

Open Access Status

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