Voluntary Planning Agreements – Who, What, When, Where, Why?

A quick crash course on the basics of voluntary planning agreements.

Who?

A voluntary planning agreement (or VPA for short) is an agreement between a person (that is, a developer), and one or more planning authorities (like a council or State government authority).

What?

A VPA is an agreement under which the developer is required to dedicate land free of cost, pay a monetary contribution to the planning authority, or provide any other material public benefit, to be used for or applied towards a public purpose. The VPA can also be a combination of these things (for example, the developer could be required to pay a monetary contribution and dedicate land free of cost).

When?

VPAs are usually made when a developer:

  1. has sought a change to an environmental planning instrument, or
  2. who has made, or proposes to make, a development application or application for a complying development certificate.

Where?

VPAs can be made in relation to development which is anywhere in NSW.

You can find planning agreements by clicking on this link: State Voluntary Planning Agreement Register

Why?

VPAs provide a way for planning authorities and developers to negotiate flexible outcomes in respect of development contributions and enable the NSW planning system to deliver development and public benefits to the community and different and unique ways, outside of the more rigid “normal” contribution requirements which are found in sections 7.11 and 7.12 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. For example, a VPA could provide for the recurrent funding of public facilities provided by councils, recurrent funding of transport, the protection and enhancement of the natural environment, and the monitoring of the planning impacts of development.

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Alyce is a civil engineer and a practicing lawyer, who has a desire to share her insights on the legal and practical realities of the development industry.