They are closed when a proponent has requested a modification of an environmental planning instrument or has submitted (or is proposing) a development application. The VPA is concluded between the proponent and a planning authority (or two or more planning authorities) and implies that the developer makes a contribution to the development to provide a public benefit in the development. A Community Needs Assessment Report, prepared by an independent consultant, is a proven method for determining the scope of a VPA. It participates in the debate and defines the strategic positioning of the proposal in the context of planning regional and urban social infrastructure. In Section 93F of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, VPAs are referred to as “voluntary or other agreements” between “proponents” and “planning authorities,” under which developers make financial contributions, spend land free of charge, or provide other physical benefits or combinations for public purposes. Some boards are expected to receive an equal share of the planning benefit resulting from changes to planning controls. To what extent is it reasonable if there are clearly strategic advantages in terms of increasing housing supply and employment in urban centres and growth areas? There must be surveillance of the VPA. There has been no pre-needs assessment, local infrastructure coordination and control planning, as councils are trying to renovate many of our urban centres and growth corridors. The NSW government has published an updated draft policy framework for planning agreements, which contains an updated practical note (draft practical opinion) and a proposal for ministerial leadership. Once adopted, councils should pay attention to the draft practical opinion when negotiating voluntary planning agreements (VPAs). While the draft exercise retains many aspects of the existing practice note, there are some notable changes. In particular, none of the major changes to the draft practice notice will address concerns about the misuse of VPAs.
The draft practice notice provides examples of “potential adverse outcomes,” including planning authorities who request inappropriate benefits or mistakenly rely on their legal position for inappropriate benefits, but does not provide new guidelines on how to avoid these outcomes. As people become mobile, requirements increase and preferences change, evidence-based planning requires an analysis of community needs at the city and district level. Long-term needs should be taken into account, taking into account current and future requirements, stakeholder and community benefits, and models of good practice in terms of efficiency, flexibility and sustainability. The “development contribution,” i.e. the provision by a developer as part of a voluntary planning agreement, may involve a monetary contribution, free dedication of land or the provision of a material “public benefit”. The term “planning obligation” in turn means an obligation imposed on a developer that requires it to make a contribution to development.