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Community Participation Plan

The Independent Planning Commission NSW recognises the importance of encouraging and promoting greater community participation throughout the planning system to achieving better outcomes for the people of NSW. Community engagement and participation is an all-encompassing term which covers how we engage the community in our work under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, including when we make decisions on major development applications.

Our Community Participation Plan (CPP) sets out clearly when and how you can participate in our processes, including when we make decisions on major development applications. The CPP also establishes our community participation objectives which we use to guide our approach to community engagement.

Our CPP is a requirement of the Act (see Division 2.6 and Schedule 1 of the EP&A Act) which applies to the exercise of planning functions by all NSW planning authorities, including the Commission. We will review our CPP periodically or as required under the Act. 

You can download our Community Participation Plan here!

Public meetings 

A public meeting provides an opportunity for the Commission to hear public views on the Department's assessment report as part of its determination process for State significant development 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 in relation to the holding of a public meeting before making a decision on an application are set out in the attached guidelines. 

The  public meeting does not affect appeal rights under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (EP&A Act).

The Commission reserves the right to cancel or postpone a public meeting without prior notice at its discretion, including on the advertised day of the public meeting. Where a public meeting is postponed or cancelled, the Commission will publish a statement to this effect on its website as soon as is reasonably practicable after the decision to postpone or cancel the public meeting has been made.

For further information, please see the Commission’s Public Meeting Guidelines.

Public hearings

A public hearing is only held if a formal request is made by the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces. If such a request is made, the Commission must hold a public hearing, it is not discretionary.

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

When the Commission, at the request of the Minister, holds a public hearing in relation to a state significant development application for which it is the consent authority, merit appeal rights in respect of any future decision on that application are extinguished. See ‘Merit appeal rights’ below. 

Given the effect of a public hearing on the merit appeal rights of the applicant and objectors, a public hearing will also involve the Panel seeking to address issues within the public hearing – for example, asking clarification and related questions of the applicant, Department and others throughout the public hearing and at its close.

For more information, please see the Commission’s Public Hearing Guidelines.

Public Hearings and Public Meetings during COVID-19 pandemic

On 30 April 2020, the NSW Government introduced the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (COVID-19 Planning Bodies) Regulation 2020 requiring planning bodies, including the Commission, to conduct public hearings and public meetings by electronic means. Under the regulation, a public hearing or public meeting must:
* be held by means of an audio link or audio-visual link, and
* be able to be heard or viewed by electronic means by a member of the public at the time it is held.

Accordingly, the Commission will conduct its public hearings and public meetings electronically using tele- and/or videoconferencing facilities for the prescribed period. This will be in place of face-to-face meetings and hearings.

Hearings and meetings will continue to be conducted in a similar format, with the technology to be used for each hearing or meeting selected to maximise its effectiveness for participants based in the area where the project is located. Proceedings of these hearings and meetings will be streamed ‘live’ online and a transcript published on the Commission’s website.

The Commission will continue to accept written submissions or comments up to one week (7 days) after the public hearing or meeting, providing an additional opportunity for participation outside of the Electronic Public Hearing (EPH) or Electronic Public Meeting (EPM).

Notification of an Electronic Public Hearing (EPH) or Electronic Public Meeting (EPM)

In line with its existing policies, the Commission will give at least two weeks’ (14 days) notice of an EPH or EPM. Please refer to the Commission’s Public Hearing Guidelines and Public Meeting Guidelines for more information about notice of upcoming hearings and meetings, and what information is included in such notices.

Under the new Regulation, the notice for an EPH or EPM must also include information about how a member of the public may hear or view the hearing or meeting. Once speakers who wish to participate in the EPH or EPM are registered, the Commission will provide additional information about the technical details and process to assist them to participate.


Media representatives may record the proceedings (from the livestream) of an EPH or EPM for reporting purposes. Speakers are advised that by registering to present to a Commission Panel during an EPH or EPM, they are agreeing to be recorded and/or have this recording broadcast by third parties.

For more information, please the Commission's COVID-19 Addendum to the Independent Planning Commission's Public Hearing Guidelines, Public Meeting Guidelines and Site Inspection & Locality Tour Guidelines.

Public hearings in multiple stages

Multi-stage public hearings have been discontinued, as per Recommendation 11 of the Productivity Commission's Review of the IPC.

Merit appeal rights

A public hearing held by the Commission affects merit appeal rights for both the applicant and objectors. 

After a public hearing, no merit appeal may be brought under Division 8.3 of the EP&A Act, in respect of any future decision made by the Commission as consent authority under the EP&A Act in relation to the carrying out of any development that is the subject of this public hearing. See Division 8.3 of the EP&A Act for more details.

Site inspection and locality tours

When determining a sate significant development application or carrying out any of its other functions, the Commission may choose to undertake a site inspection 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 understand the physical attributes of the project site and its locality.

The Chair of the panel appointed to a matter will decide whether a site inspection and/or locality tour are warranted and who should attend and observe. Neither is a forum for those present to make comments and/or submissions to the Commission. 

For further information, please see the Commission’s Site Inspection and Locality Tour Guidelines.

Site inspection and locality tours during COVID-19 pandemic

In deciding whether to undertake a site inspection in the current COVID-19 environment, the Commission will first 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 DPIE and its officer/s who conducted a site inspection, including any notes or photographs taken as part of DPIE’s assessment of the project.

A site inspection may proceed in circumstances where the applicant and/or owner/operator of the site agrees to the inspection, and it can be undertaken safely, while adhering to social distancing rules. 

The Commission has in the past invited stakeholder groups to observe some site inspections, provided that the owner/operator of the site agreed to have those stakeholder groups enter their property. This practice will be suspended for the duration of the COVID-19 public health orders in the interests of minimising the exposure of participants to other people.

The Commission will continue to make notes made at 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.

For more information, please the Commission's COVID-19 Addendum to the Independent Planning Commission's Public Hearing Guidelines, Public Meeting Guidelines and Site Inspection & Locality Tour Guidelines.

Records and documents

Presentations, submissions, comments and notes provided to the Commission may be made publicly available on the Commission’s website. See 'Privacy', below, for more information.

Written material of a confidential nature will also be withheld from the website, where this has been requested.

Additional material

Receipt of written material commenting on designated Additional Material

The Commission may receive material (Additional Material) after the deadline for public comment has elapsed (for example, the deadline for public comment following a public meeting). Where the Commission determines that Additional Material contains substantive new information upon which the Commission would be assisted by public comment, the Commission will (1) publish the Additional Material on the Commission’s website and (2) indicate the period for which public written submissions or comments will be accepted in respect of that Additional Material. The period for comment on the Additional Material will usually be one week (seven days) following the publication of the Additional Material on the website.

It is important to note that just because material is published on the Commission’s website does not mean that the Commission will receive or take into account submissions about that material. Comments will only be considered where the Commission has indicated that comments are invited in respect of particular material, and has provided a time within which such material will be received. Comments received after the expiration of the stated deadline will not be considered.

Meeting records

The Independent Planning Commission has adopted a policy governing record keeping for its meetings. To access this policy, please click on the link below.

From 1 March 2018, the Commission is legally required to make record a meeting conducted in public. To satisfy this legal obligation, the Commission will make an audio recording of any public meeting, and publish a written transcription on this website.

Policy on Meeting Records

Personal interests & conflict of interests

The work of the Independent Planning Commission is often complex and contentious. The Commission is committed to sound governance and management of personal interests. In addition to the Commission's Code Of Conductthe Commission has adopted policies governing the management of personal interests and conflict of interest matters. To access these policies, please click on the links below.

IPC Conflict Of Interest Policy

Managing Conflict Of Interest Guide

Political donations

Section 147(3) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 requires a submitter who makes a public submission to the Minister in relation to an application to disclose all reportable political donations to anyone by the submitter or any associate of the submitter.  The relevant period for disclosure is two (2) years before the submission is made.  


When you deal with the Commission, your personal information is protected under the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998. Your personal information relates to you personally and includes any information or opinion made about you. Personal information includes your name, address, phone number, email address or any information from which your identity can be reasonably ascertained.

The Commission's Privacy Statement explains the way we obtain and use your personal information. This Statement covers all members of the public that submit information to us, applicants and proponents, as well as anyone else that engages with us. This Statement has been prepared in accordance with the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment's Privacy Management Plan (2017).

How we manage correspondence

What you should know before sending written correspondence to the Independent Planning Commission:

  • Once it is received your correspondence or email will become a formal record. All documents provided to the Commission are public documents and can be made publicly available on the Commission's website, please refer to the Commission's Privacy Statement for further details.
  • Your correspondence may be used for statistical reporting purposes.
  • The Commission receives large volumes of correspondence and does not respond to all correspondence, this includes:
    • submissions or comments made on a project the Commission is considering. All correspondence providing comments on a project will be referred to the relevant Commission members, for their consideration as part of the project;
    • correspondence where the Commission is not the primary recipient but marked as carbon copy (CC) or blind copy (BC);
    • unsolicited advertisements; and
    • correspondence containing offensive language or content. Any correspondence containing threatening content or advocating illegal activities will be forwarded to NSW Police Force.

What can you expect

  • If you are registering to speak at a meeting the Commission has advertised
    • Your registration is not automatically accepted, it must be processed and confirmed by the Office of the Independent Planning Commission.
    • If you have not received confirmation from the Office of the Independent Planning Commission within two (2) business days of your email please follow up to ensure your registration has been received.
    • The Office of the Independent Planning Commission releases a schedule of registered speakers on its website approximately 24 hours prior to each meeting.
  • If you are providing a submission or comments on a planning matter before the Commission
    • The issues raised in submissions and comments are considered by the Commission and where relevant they may be discussed in the Commission's report on the matter. You will not receive a direct response to your correspondence.

If you have an enquiry or complaint

  • The Office of the Independent Planning Commission will aim to reply to general enquiries or complaints within 10 working days. If additional time is required to consider your enquiry or complaint we will contact you to advise when you can expect a response.

Further details of the Commission's handling of complaints are set out in the Complaints Management Policy.

Access to information

Much of the information held by the Commission is available on our website, including the following:

  • Annual reports
  • Code of Conduct
  • Procedural guidelines
  • Media releases
  • Directions from the Minister
  • Notices of public hearings
  • Submissions
  • Commission reports including advice, public hearing reports and determinations

Other information will be made available on request and there may be a charge attached.

Our Access To Information policy can be found here.

If you want to make a formal application for information, please fill out the Access To Information Request Form and return it to the Commission with your application fee.

Our Policies