Planning law reforms to provide increased options for LALCs

20 December, 2022

20 December 2022

In 2019 the State Environmental Planning Policy (Aboriginal Land) 2019 (Aboriginal Land SEPP) came into effect.

The 2019 Aboriginal Land SEPP:

  • Enabled the making of Development Delivery Plans (DDPs) for land owned by LALCs and identified the process for approving and amending DDPs, including approval by the Minister;
  • Required a consent authority to consider a DDP when assessing a development application made by a LALC;
  • Declared certain development on land owned by a LALC ‘regionally significant’ so that planning decisions were made by the relevant regional planning panel rather than the local council.

The Aboriginal Land SEPP is a statutory instrument that was originally introduced on a pilot basis for certain lands owned by Darkinjung LALC, and has since been applied to some lands owned by Metropolitan LALC.

As a result of NSWALC and the Network’s advocacy, changes have now been made to allow all LALCs and NSWALC to seek to access the alternative planning pathway outlined in the SEPP.[1]

This means that LALCs can seek to utilise the planning pathway in the SEPP should they wish to do so, and if certain criteria are met. The pathway provides for:

  • The Minister to approve DDPs, and consent authorities to consider a DDP when assessing a development application made by a LALC;
  • Development delivery plan requirements, including certain matters to be identified such as the LALCs objectives for the land;
  • Declaration of regionally significant development: Land owned by a LALC may generally be declared ‘regionally significant’ if:
    • The development has a capital investment value of more than $5 million,
    • More than 50 submissions are received after the development application for the development is placed on public exhibition,
  • A development application to the relevant council has been lodged but not determined within 60 days after the application was lodged and that is the subject of a written request to the council by the applicant for the application to be dealt with by a regional panel. This applies unless the chairperson of the regional panel determines that the delay in determining the application was caused by the applicant.

The intent of the changes is to provide additional planning pathway options for Aboriginal Land Councils in recognition that planning systems need to be improved to better facilitate and support Aboriginal Land Councils to achieve social, cultural and economic aspirations.

NSWALC looks forward to working with the NSW Government and LALCs on further planning reforms to better facilitate social, cultural and economic land outcomes, in line with recommendations from various reviews, including the 2021 Statutory review of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (NSW).

Useful links

Chapter 3 of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Planning Systems) 2021 provides for Aboriginal Land, available at:

More information

NSWALC Strategy & Policy Unit or 02 9689 4444

NSW Department of Planning and Environment or

[1] The Aboriginal Land SEPP has now been embedded in Chapter 3 of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Planning Systems) 2021


We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners of the lands where we work as well as across the lands we travel through. We also acknowledge our Elders past, present and emerging.

Artwork Credit: Craig Cromelin, from a painting he did titled, "4 favourite fishing holes". It is a snippet of his growing years on the Lachlan River, featuring yabby, turtle, fish and family.