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Understand our decision-making process

A state significant development (SSD) application comes to the Independent Planning Commission for determination only after it has been publicly exhibited and assessed by the Department of Planning and Environment (DPE). 

When an SSD application comes to the Commission, DPE provides the Commission with a whole-of-government assessment report, which is published on both agencies’ websites, along with any recommended conditions of consent.

The Chair of the Commission will appoint a panel of commissioners to consider the SSD application and make a determination.

The Independent Planning Commission invites interested individuals and groups to make any submission they consider appropriate; however, the Commission is particularly assisted by submissions that are responsive to the Department of Planning and Environment’s (DPE) whole-of-government assessment report and recommended conditions of consent.

The Commission has available to it all submissions previously made to DPE during its exhibition of the Environmental Impact Statement. Submitters are encouraged not to make the same submission they previously made to DPE.

Using the Have Your Say form on the Commission’s website is the easiest way to make a submission; however, submissions can also be sent via email or post.

When using the online form, submitters can request that their name and location are not published by checking the relevant boxes. Please see our Privacy Statement for more information.

Written submissions deemed by the Commission to be offensive, threatening, defamatory or otherwise inappropriate will not be published.

If you would like more information on making a submission, please read our Public Submissions Guidelines.
 
Have Your Say

The Independent Planning Commission may decide to meet with various stakeholders, including an applicant or proponent, the Department of Planning and Environment (DPE), other government departments or agencies, local councils, and community and interest groups to hear their views on a state significant development (SSD) application or seek additional information to assist it in determining a SSD application or to provide advice on a planning matter.

Records of such meetings will be kept in accordance with the Commission's Transparency Policy

It is also commonplace for the Commission to request additional information in writing from DPE or the applicant to assist in its deliberations.

In determining a state significant development application or carrying out any of its other functions, the Commission may choose to undertake a physical and/or virtual site inspection and/or locality tour. 

There is no statutory requirement for the Commission to do so. The purpose of the site inspection and/or locality tour is to assist a Commission panel to understand the physical attributes of the project site and its locality.

When deciding whether to conduct a physical site inspection, the Commission will also consider alternative sources of information about the physical attributes of the site, including: 

  • video/photographic and other informative submissions from the applicant
  • the applicant providing a virtual inspection of the site on a video call to the Panel
  • undertaking a locality tour, for appropriate sites within driving distance; and/or
  • seeking detailed site information from the Department and its officer/s who conducted a site inspection, including any notes or photographs taken as part of Department’s assessment of the project.

The Commission will continue to make notes and/or transcripts of site inspections publicly available in accordance with its Site Inspection and Locality Tour Guidelines and take the additional step of publishing photographs of key views inspected on site and a plan of the site showing where the photographs were taken, to facilitate comment by interested parties.

When a virtual site inspection is carried out, the Commission will seek to publish video of that inspection to its website. 

Public meetings

A public meeting provides an opportunity for the Independent Planning Commission to hear the community’s views on the Department of Planning and Environment’s (DPE) assessment report as part of its determination process for state significant development (SSD) applications.

There is no statutory requirement for the Commission to hold a public meeting before determining an application. The considerations that will guide the Commission deciding whether to hold a public meeting are set out in our Public Meeting Guidelines.

Public hearings

A public hearing is only held by the Commission if it receives a formal request to do so from the Minister for Planning.

Anyone can submit an application to speak at a public hearing, which may run for several days. At the hearing, the developer and DPE will give their presentations and answer questions from the panel and/or counsel assisting on the issues. The panel will also hear presentations from the community and other stakeholders.

While the panel and/or counsel assisting may actively engage in asking questions or seek clarification from speakers/presenters on the subject matter of their oral submissions, this may not always be necessary.  No questions or cross-examination will be permitted from others in attendance.

The Commission also has powers to require certain people to attend and give evidence at the hearing.

When the Commission holds a public hearing in relation to a development application for which it is the consent authority, merit appeal rights in respect of any future decision on that application are extinguished. See Appeals against the Commission’s decisions below for more information.

Please see our Public Hearing Guidelines for more information.

Notification of a public hearing or public meeting 

The Commission will give a minimum of two weeks’ (14 days) notice of a public hearing.

The Commission will advertise the public hearing via a post published on its website and social media channel/s. It will also issue a media release to news outlets in the area where the development is proposed; notify via direct email all persons (including public authorities) who had previously made a submission to the Department during its consultation period/s; and provide written notice to the local council (both elected representatives and civic management), as well as state and federal MPs in the area.

Targeted stakeholder consultation

In cases where a public meeting or hearing is not held, the Commission may choose to meet with interested individuals or groups as part of its stakeholder consultations. 

 

When the Independent Planning Commission determines a state significant development (SSD) application, it will issue any development consent or notice of refusal and publish this with a Statement of Reasons for Decision on its website. The Statement of Reasons will include:

  • the Commission’s decision
  • date of the decision
  • the reasons for the decision (having regard to any statutory requirements applying to the decision)
  • how community views were taken into account.

If you have made a submission on an SSD application, you will be notified by email when the decision is issued.

 


 

Other processes

Once the Independent Planning Commission determines a development application, the Commission cannot revisit or remake that decision without an order of a court.

Accordingly, the Commission cannot review or hear appeals against its own decisions – that is the role of the court system.

There are principally two types of appeals that can be brought against the Commission’s determinations of development applications. These are informally described as ‘merit appeals’ and ‘judicial reviews’.

Merit appeals

A merit appeal involves the court sitting in the place of the original decision maker and re-exercising the administrative decision-making functions. The decision of the court is binding and becomes that of the original decision maker. In merit appeals against development applications, the court decides whether to approve a development application and, if so, the conditions of the consent. For more information, click here.

The court may require the Commission and the other parties to participate in a conciliation process. In those cases, the Commission is merely another party to the proceedings and does not have any rights or privileges that the other parties do not have. The Commission is required to comply with the court’s processes – including any requirements to keep confidential what is said or produced in the conciliation. In such cases, the court is still the decision maker, even when a conciliated outcome is reached between the parties to the proceedings.

The Commission's Section 34 Conciliation Conferences Policy sets out our approach to this part of the Court's process. 

Judicial reviews

A judicial review involves asking the court to review whether decisions or behaviours of government agencies or people have followed the law and, if not, requiring them to make a new decision or behave in accordance with the law. For more information, click here.

Generally, the Commission is required to not play an active role in judicial review proceedings against its decisions. This is to preserve the Commission’s impartiality in the event a court upholds a judicial review and the Commission is required to make a new decision. The Commission’s decision whether to play an active role will be taken on a case-by-case basis by reference to the specific circumstances of that judicial review.

Under the laws of the state, there are limitations on the types of appeals that can be made, as well as limitations on when those appeals may be commenced, who may commence the appeal, and who can participate in the appeals process. One of those limitations is that a decision made by the Commission on a development application cannot be subject to a merit appeal if the Commission conducted a public hearing regarding that development application.

The Commission does not provide legal advice to any person seeking to appeal its decisions. Nothing on this website should be relied on as legal advice and any person, including any person considering an appeal of a Commission decision, is strongly encouraged to seek their own independent legal advice regarding their rights of appeal.


 

In accordance with the Minister for Planning's authorisation, the Commission has delegated its functions under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2021 to agree to amendments or variations to development applications prior to determination to officers of the Department of Planning and Environment.

A copy of the delegation is available here.



 
Have Your Say
Have Your Say

We recognise the importance of community participation in our decision-making process. Using our ‘Have Your Say’ form is the easiest way for you to make a submission on cases currently before the Commission.

Have Your Say