Development Control Plans (DCPs)
A key feature of the NSW planning system are Development Control Plans, which are usually referred to be their abbreviation DCP.
A development control plan provides detailed planning and design guidelines to support the planning controls in an environmental planning instrument (LEP or SEPP).
While an LEP will typically have high-level controls like zoning, maximum height and floor space ratio, a DCP normally provides more specific controls for detailed design aspects and is designed to provide guidance. Controls that you will often find in DCPs include minimum rates of car parking, set backs for buildings from the street and minimum landscaping requirements.
DCPs are designed to be more flexible documents than LEPs, so it is often easier to justify a non-compliance with a control in the plan. DCPs are not a form of delegated legislation like LEPs or SEPPs are.
It used to be the case that each local government area would have a number of Development Control Plans applying to its area and each would serve a specific purpose, although today there increasingly is only one very large Development Control Plan applying to each local government area.
The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act specifically provides that consent authorities are to be flexible in applying standards of a DCP and to allow reasonable alternative solutions that achieve the underlying objectives.
It can be good practice to discuss a design that does not comply with a DCP with your local Council before lodging the Development Application. It is also important to make sure that the reasons for any non-compliance are justified in your application.
An important step for any designer before progressing too far is to have a good read of the DCP for that particular area, to understand the type of development that the Council in trying to encourage.