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Design & Place SEPP submission guide

How to make a submission   

  • Write your submission, using the points belowincluding your personal perspective and experiences – particularly if you have an example demonstrating how, if given the opportunity, developers take the least cost route at the expense of environmental outcomes. 

  • Submissions due by Friday the 28th April, 2021.  


Points to include in your submission 

  • The flexible ‘principle-based’ approach proposed invites trade-offs and undermines fundamental goals 

The proposed SEPP implements objectives through ‘matters for consideration’, which ultimately means decision makers have to accommodate a lot of developer discretion and environmental performance cannot be guaranteed.   

The NSW Government needs best practice environmental performance requirements that will create certainty for industry and the community.   

  • Negotiable tree retention requirements will mean the Government’s own 40% canopy cover target may not be met. 

The proposed SEPP allows removal of existing tree canopy to be offset by green roofs, walls and softscape, or two small new trees. Enabling removal of mature trees will impact human health, urban water quality and biodiversity.   

The NSW Government needs policies that will ensure retention of existing high quality tree canopy. Open space targets should be mandatory and not offset by weak alternatives. 

  • Creating alternative pathways which avoid the BASIX requirements is complicating, inconsistent and undermines achieving standards across the board. 

The proposed SEPP will replace the BASIX SEPP, which sets mandatory requirements for energy, water use and thermal comfort for all new residential buildings and major renovations. The proposed SEPP seeks to create more ‘flexibility’ in meeting these requirements.  

The NSW Government needs to maintain, improve and enforce BASIX. The principles outlined in the Design and Place SEPP Explanation of Intended Effects should be translated into mandatory requirements and standards in an expanded regulatory framework under BASIX.   

  • Ambitious climate change mitigation and adaptation reforms should be at the heart of land use planning and development control  

The new SEPP includes emissions reduction and resilience in its ‘mandatory matters for consideration’. This is a weak lever for an urgent and pressing problem.   

The NSW Government needs to recognise that dramatically reducing emissions and increasing resilience to natural hazards is vital, not just a consideration.  

The Design and Place SEPP is a missed opportunity to embed high standards for climate change adaptation and emissions reduction in our built environment. 



On the surface, the Government’s new Design and Place State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) has good intentions. Its guiding principles include: Design sustainable and greener places for the wellbeing of people and the environment, as well as Design resilient and diverse places for enduring communities.   

Unfortunately, when you examine what’s really in the proposed SEPP, it is all talk and no teeth - and it will actually take us backwards.  

The SEPP establishes expectations across a wide range of factors including resilience, green infrastructure, emissions and resource efficiency and tree canopy. Thebecome ‘mandatory matters for consideration’ that developers and decision makers have to consider in the assessment and approval process.  In other words, they are completely discretionary.  

The NSW Government has embraced the well-worn developer ideology of making basic environmental and liveability requirements ‘matters for consideration’ by using ‘flexibility’, ‘trade-offs’ and ‘moving away from prescriptive controls’.    

Instead of projects being benchmarked against clear best practice targets, decision makers and local communities will be submerged in a blizzard of studies (paid for by developers) ‘considering’ environmental impacts and liveability. The community (and many councils) will have little capacity to fully assess all this documentation and argue for better, alternative outcomes.   

This SEPP sidelines the community and local councils. It surrenders environmental standards and liveability to private sector developers. It opens the door for many more developer court cases appealing council decisions. It’s an abrogation of responsibility by the state government to present and future generations.