What do we mean by Council’s “Local Planning Assessment Framework”?

    A Local Planning Assessment Framework is a group of documents that guide Council and the community about what can be built, where it can be built, and how it can be built. 

    Our Local Planning Assessment Framework is informed by the NSW State Government and consists of two important documents:

    Our Local Planning Assessment Framework is supported by many other important Council policies and guidelines such as:

    What is a Local Environmental Plan and Development Control Plan?

    Local Environmental Plans (LEPs) guide planning decisions for local government areas. They do this through zoning and built form controls, which provide a framework for the way land can be used and what can be built on it. LEPs are the main planning tool to shape future development and they’re responsible for making sure it’s done appropriately. LEPs also provide protection for heritage and environmentally sensitive areas.

    A Development Control Plan (DCP) is prepared and adopted by Councils. This Plan provides detailed planning and design guidelines to support the planning controls in the Local Environmental Plan (LEP). A DCP provides more details about how land can be used and developed and may relate to a particular place (e.g., Wollongong CBD) or a particular topic (e.g., flooding or heritage).

    Why is Council reviewing their Local Planning Assessment Framework?

    Our Local Planning Assessment Framework needs to be reviewed regularly to stay up to date with changes to NSW planning legislation, to fix errors, or add more information. We also make updates to ensure it aligns with Council and the community’s goals and objectives. 

    Council recently adopted net zero greenhouse gas emissions targets of:

    • Net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 for Council operations
    • Net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 for the city.

    We want to make some improvements to our Local Planning Assessment Framework so that it aligns with our net zero greenhouse gas emissions targets. The aim of this review is to:

    • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions where possible and feasible 
    • Improve climate change adaptation so that our community is prepared for climate events such as flooding, bushfires, drought, extreme heat, and rain
    • Increase environmental sustainability.

    These changes to the Framework will help us to provide better outcomes for our community and contribute towards our community emissions reduction target.

    Why do we want our Local Planning Assessment Framework to be ‘Climate Friendly’?

    Except for industrial emissions, 78% of emissions produced in the Wollongong Local Government Area are from the stationary energy sector. This includes the energy we use in our homes and the energy used to run our local shops, cafes, schools, and office buildings. 

    By facilitating developments that are climate friendly and more energy efficient we’ll be able to significantly reduce the emissions produced by our community, helping us work towards our city’s goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

    What are the likely climate changes and impacts for Wollongong?

    The likely climate changes and impacts for Wollongong include:

    • More high temperature days and warmer nights – our community will need to manage increased heat waves and longer warm periods, placing stress on people, plants, and animals.
    • Increased bushfire risk from hot dry periods and a reduction in the season available for safe backburning.
    • More drought, and higher intensity storms leading to challenges to store water for irrigation, and to manage deluge events and flooding.
    • Increased coastal erosion and flooding as the sea level rises and storm intensity increases.

    What is a ‘Climate Friendly’ Local Planning Assessment Framework?

    A ‘Climate Friendly’ Local Assessment Framework aims to meet the following principles:

    • Contributing towards the net zero emissions targets – 'Net Zero' means achieving a balance between the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced and removed from the atmosphere. Development that reduces energy consumption needs and/or offsets energy consumption contributes towards net zero emissions will help limit the impact of climate change. 
    • Preparedness and adaptation for a changing climate – Developments that are prepared for and can cope with the hazards caused and increased by climate change are developments that can make the most of changing technology, reduce energy consumption, and use green energy sources. 
    • Sustainable development – development that thoughtfully considers the social, environmental, and economic impacts on people today and into the future. It also exists harmoniously with the natural environment.

    What changes does Council want to make to their Local Planning Assessment Framework?

    Right now, we’re in the idea stage of this review. Eventually, we plan to make updates to certain residential and non-residential chapters of our Development Control Plan. This may involve making changes to our existing controls or developing new controls. 

    We also want to create guidelines or tools to help developers and homeowners make climate friendly decisions – decisions that will reduce emissions and help protect our natural environment. These could include guides or decision-support tools to assist with making developments more climate friendly. 

    Opportunities for change our local planning assessment framework are limited by the NSW planning legislation, set out by the State Government. Whilst we can’t exceed the requirements and controls within this legislation, we are keen to know what options the community and other stakeholders are supportive of Councill investigating that contribute towards climate friendly planning. These options include controls (where possible) and encouraging development to go above and beyond current requirements through support and incentives.

    Why has Council written this Discussion Paper?

    Like our community, we value and work to protect our local environment. We want to make some updates to our Local Planning and Assessment Framework to reduce the threat of climate change and protect our environment. 

    This Discussion Paper presents ideas about how we can make updates to this Framework so developments in our city can be more climate friendly. 

    The Discussion Paper presents the 5 focus areas for potential changes: 

    • Landscaping and Urban greening
    • Solar and Energy Efficiency 
    • Materials and Building Form and Waste
    • Transport and Car Parking
    • Policies and Incentives

    Under each of these focus areas we have included some objectives and discussion points. This is a discussion paper, meaning its purpose is to present some ideas to the community for your feedback – no changes are locked in just yet. It is a chance for you to raise questions and share your ideas about how developments in our city could be more climate friendly into the future. We would like to know your thoughts before we begin to draft any changes or take action.

    What feedback is Council looking for?

    We want to hear what you think about the objectives and ideas presented in our Discussion Paper. We also want to hear any other ideas you might have about how developments in our city could be more climate friendly.

    How will my feedback be used?

    We will use your feedback to help us make decisions about what we should focus our review on. We’ll use your feedback to understand what things you care about, changes you would support, and things that you need or would help to be more climate friendly. This information will then inform draft changes that may be incorporated into our draft Local Planning Assessment Framework. These changes may include amendments to existing controls, the inclusion of new controls, and the creation of other supporting material, like guidelines, tip sheets, and decision-support tools.

    Is Council updating the Local Planning Assessment Framework now?

    No, not yet. The Discussion Paper is the first phase of this project and starts the conversation with our community so we can get a better idea of where we should start our review. 

    When it does come to updating our Local Planning Assessment Framework, these changes will not all happen at the same time. We’re planning to approach this by updating our controls and developing supporting materials one step at a time and changes may be made over several years. 

    The timing of these changes will vary depending on the instrument or material (i.e., the LEP or DCP vs guideline).  We’ll make sure we continue the conversation with our community and provide several opportunities for you to provide feedback and understand our program and progress. 

    Visit our website to sign up to Council’s Sustainable Wollongong e-news for information about sustainable events and activities and access our Climate Emergency Updates.

    What are the next steps?

    1.    Review
    After the community engagement closes on 1 July, we’ll review all the comments received from the community. Your feedback will help inform any proposed changes and/or updates. 

    2.    Draft changes and updates
    Once we have reviewed your feedback and any recent changes to the NSW planning legislation, we’ll begin to draft proposed changes and/or new materials across our Local Planning Assessment Framework. This may include updates to the DCP or the development of supporting guides. We’ll also prepare a cost benefit analysis for any proposed key changes to get a better understanding of how the proposed changes will impact the community in the long term.   

    3.    Check in with community/public exhibition
    We’ll come back to the community with these draft changes and updates to our Local Planning Assessment Framework. We’ll ask you for your feedback on these draft documents before the proposed changes go back to Council for endorsement. 

    4.    Endorsement and Implementation
    Once Council endorses the updates to our Local Planning Assessment Framework, we’ll promote our program of action. This is when we will start applying these updated controls to all relevant future development applications and develop support tools and materials to help developers understand how they can make their buildings more climate friendly.