Home 9 Introduction 9 What is an LEP?

What is an LEP?

Hilltops LEP sets zoning, permissible uses, and development controls on all land in the Hilltops LGA.

What is a Local Environmental Plan?

A Local Environmental Plan (LEP) is the principal planning document affecting land use. It determines what purpose land may be used for as well as development standards and controls that apply such as what can be built, where it can be built, and what activities can occur.

The LEP is comprised of a written legislation with accompanied by a set of maps.  The document can be accessed in the Document Library and mapping at Online Mapping Viewer. These should be viewed together to provide an understanding of zoning and building controls across an area or for a particular property.

Hilltops Council has prepared a new draft LEP known as the Draft Hilltops LEP 2021 which will replace the three existing LEPs currently in use for Boorowa, Harden and Young. All three existing LEPs were due for review and require amendments to reflect the latest information available and current local and State planning regulations and policy.

LEPs are supplemented by Development Control Plans (DCPs) which provide more detailed planning controls for an area. A new Hilltops DCP will be harmonised and consolidated following the conclusion of the process to make the new Hilltops LEP 2021.

The LEP contains planning controls and clauses including:

  • land use zones;
  • minimum lot size for a dwelling; and

It also includes additional heritage conservation controls and local provisions, such as:

  • Terrestrial biodiversity
  • Ground Water Vulnerability
  • Essential Services Provision

What makes the Draft Hilltops LEP?

All LEPs in NSW are required to comply with a set structure as set out by the NSW Standard Instrument – Principal Local Environmental Plan developed by the NSW State Government. A LEP is a legal document prepared by Council and approved by the State Government in line with the Standard Instrument LEP to regulate land use and development.

The aim is that each local council will use the same template so that it is easier to navigate planning controls across NSW.

The Standard Instrument LEP contains the following Parts, Schedules and Maps.

Part 1 – Preliminary

Part 1 of the consolidated Hilltops LEP covers a range of preliminary matters including the overall aim of the Plan, where the Plan applies, relationships with other instruments and other transitional arrangements.

The comprehensive Hilltops LEP is consistent with the Standard Instrument (SI) LEP). Hilltops LEP acknowledges goals of the relevant regional plan – South East Tablelands Regional Plan – and Hilltops 2040 Local Strategic Planning Statement (LSPS).

Duplicated objectives within each previous LEPs that are similar in intent are consolidated in the new comprehensive Hilltops LEP.

See Attachment A – Hilltops LEP Clause Explainer and Attachment B – Aims of the Plan for proposed wording and justification.

Part 2 – Permitted or Prohibited Development

Part 2 of the consolidated Hilltops LEP covers land use zones, the zone objectives and the permitted or prohibited development within each of the land use zones.

Updated land use objectives are also recommended by the Strategic directions provided within Hilltops 2040. Permissible and prohibited development for each proposed zone has been reviewed, harmonised based on the existing LEPs, updated to be in line with Standard Instrument guidance and be consistent with the amended zone objectives.

Proposed mapping amendments are noted in Attachment C – Zones, Objectives and Tables, based on directions in Hilltops 2040, amending anomalies and harmonisation based on the Standard Instrument LEP.

Part 3 – Exempt and Complying Development

Part 3 of the consolidated Hilltops LEP will identify the circumstances when development can be undertaken without consent (exempt development) or with consent as complying development.

Some developments that have minimal environmental impact, like swimming pools, may be carried out as exempt (i.e. not require approval) or complying development (i.e. fast-track approval process). The draft Hilltops LEP relies on the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (Codes SEPP) to determine what developments are exempt or complying.

Exempt and Complying Development Clauses will be retained from the former three LEPs in the consolidated Hilltops LEP.

Part 4 – Principal Development Standards

Part 4 of the consolidated Hilltops LEP includes the development standards for minimum subdivision lot size, rural subdivision, and exceptions to development standards.

The minimum lot size for a dwelling in rural, semi-rural and in town residential lands has been rationalised in the consolidated Hilltops LEP.

See Attachment A – Hilltops LEP Clause Explainer and Attachment C – Zones, Objectives and Tables for proposed wording and justification.

Part 5 – Miscellaneous Provisions

Part 5 of the consolidated Hilltops LEP will cover miscellaneous provisions including compulsory clauses. Council is proposing local amendments to harmonise approaches taken by the three current LEPs to:

  • Clause 5.3 Development near zone boundaries
  • Clause 5.4 Controls relating to miscellaneous permissible uses

All other clauses are either not applicable to Hilltops or the compulsory Standard Instrument wording applies.

See Attachment A – Hilltops LEP Clause Explainer  for proposed wording and justification.

Part 6 – Urban Release Areas

This is an additional clause not included in the existing LEPs.

This clause is used by local governments across NSW where lands have been identified as potential locations for future residential growth but further work is required to confirm their suitability and service provision. It is also used as an interim measure to stop inappropriate or potential under development (eg. use for rural residential purposes).

See Attachment E – Urban Release Area Paper for proposed wording and justification.

Part 7 – Additional Local Provisions

Local provisions have been harmonised in the new LEP to apply across the Hilltops Local Government Area.

As a result of including Urban Release Areas in Part 6, Additional Local Provisions becomes Part 7 with this Planning Proposal.

See Attachment F – Planning Proposal – Local Clauses and Environmental Layers for proposed wording and justification.


Schedules identifies specific information relating to clauses within the LEP. See Attachment A – Hilltops LEP Clause Explainer for proposed wording and justification.

Schedule 1 – Additional permitted uses

  • Identifies properties where a development type that is otherwise prohibited in its land use zone is permitted.

A consolidation of the Schedule 1 planning provisions has been undertaken of the existing Young LEP 2010, Harden LEP 2011 and Boorowa LEP 2012 to form Schedule 1 of the proposed draft Hilltops LEP.

Schedule 2 – Exempt development

  • Identifies exempt development but this Schedule is blank in the draft LEP 2020 as it relies on the provisions of the Codes SEPP.

 Schedule 3 – Complying development

  • Identifies complying development but this Schedule is blank in the draft LEP 2020 as it relies on the provisions of the Codes SEPP.

Schedule 4 – Classification and reclassification of public land

No reclassifications of land are proposed as a part of this planning proposal.

Consultation with public authorities who use or have interest in Crown Land such a Local Land Services, Local Aboriginal Land Council’s and local community groups will be undertaken for a future planning proposal.

Future reclassifications, if required, will be undertaken through a separate planning proposal process once the Hilltops LEP has been made.

 Schedule 5 – Environmental heritage

  • Identifies whether a property contains a heritage item or is within a heritage conservation area.

Schedule 6 – Pond-based and tank-based aquaculture

  • A mandatory Schedule that provides information on aquaculture activities


The draft LEP 2020 includes the following maps to illustrate the application of the various LEP clauses:

  • Land Application Map
  • Land Zoning Map
  • Lot Size Map
  • Land Reservation Acquisition Map
  • Heritage Map Please provide data for Boorowa
  • Urban Release Areas Map
  • Terrestrial Biodiversity Map
  • Riparian Land and Watercourses Map
  • Ground Water Vulnerability Map
  • Drinking Water Catchment Map.
  • Salinity Map
  • Highly Erodible Soils Map
  • Environmentally Sensitive Land Map

Maps are available in an interactive format on the Online Map Viewer