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NSW fast-tracks projects to boost economy

The first tranche of NSW construction projects set to be fast-tracked in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic will create thousands of jobs and inject more than $7 billion into the state’s economy.

The Berejiklian government has identified 24 projects to undergo the fast-track assessment process, including new homes, new industrial complexes and six schools.

The assessments will be carried out within the next four weeks.

NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes said the projects would create almost 9500 new jobs, inject $7.5 billion into the economy, open up more than 325,000 square metres of public space and deliver more than 4400 new homes.

“Those projects have been identified as having the greatest jobs benefit, the greatest investment benefits and the greatest public benefits for the people of NSW,” he told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.

“Our planning system is one of the key levers the government has in its disposal in equipping us and moving us forward into the recovery phase, once we’ve dealt with immediate response to COVID-19.”

Mr Stokes stressed this was not a “greenlighting exercise” and the projects would undergo stringent checks and community consultation.

To be considered for a fast-tracked assessment, a development application or rezoning must already be in the system, deliver public benefits, create jobs and be able to start construction within six months.

The planning changes are among several the NSW government has announced during the pandemic.

Others include allowing construction sites to operate on weekends and public holidays, supermarkets and pharmacies to operate 24/7 and relaxed rules for food trucks.

The peak body for Australia’s home building industry says fast-tracking assessments for major building projects will provide some certainty during the pandemic.

“The key will be how we use this initiative to generate more activity in the new home building sector to ensure NSW continues to meet its housing targets through this difficult period,” Housing Industry Association executive director David Bare said in a statement.

Originally published as NSW fast-tracks projects to boost economy

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