ACT Planning System Review and Reform Project
With a view to modernise planning in Canberra, the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate have undertaken a two-year review of the planning system. This review has culminated in the identification of the complex and onerous nature of current statutory frameworks. Consequently, the ACT Planning System Review and Reform Project intends to deliver an accessible system which supports improved development outcomes. To this end, the Planning Bill 2022 and related subordinate legislation — the Planning (General) Regulation 2022; and Planning (Exempt Development) Regulation 2022 — have been prepared. Drafts of these were issued on 16 March 2022 for public consultation. Community feedback is to be considered prior to the presentation of the Bill to the ACT Legislative Assembly. If passed, the new statute will supersede the Planning and Development Act 2007 and associated regulations.
Seeking to balance community and industry needs, the draft Bill proposes significant changes to planning processes in the Territory. Seen as a fundamental element of reform, the Bill is expected to underpin an updated Territory Plan. It has been informed by recent planning reforms in other Australian jurisdictions; stakeholder engagement; and policy considerations.
Policy considerations for the purposes of the Bill are founded upon five key principles — easy to use; certainty; flexibility; transparency; and outcomes-focussed. Easy to use refers to user experience across the planning system as a whole; reducing current intricacy in relation to online platforms, statutory processes and legislative controls. Systems should be suitable for the use of individuals, as well as professionals. Certainty pertains to assurance in relation to both strategic and statutory matters. This includes clearer information as to desired outcomes of future development in different areas, as well as assurance relating to decision-making considerations and process timeframes. Flexibility concerns the encouragement of innovative planning and design solutions. The planning system should provide reasonable, yet less proscriptive, parameters. Being necessary build trust and confidence, transparency relates to improves access to information throughout the planning process. An outcomes-focussed planning system considers substantive matters which must be addressed to achieve good planning and development results, without specifying in detail how that will be achieved. Development should be consistent with the context of the site. Canberra Town Planning have commenced a comparative analysis of the existing and proposed legislation with reference to these principles, and intend to make a formal submission pertaining to these reforms.
Consultation for the draft Planning Bill 2022 concludes on Wednesday, 15 June 2022. Should you wish to provide thoughts and feedback in relation to the proposed legislation, please visit YourSay Conversations on the ACT Government website (ACT Planning System Review and Reform Project | YourSay ACT). Readers are encouraged to engage with this consultation individually and are welcome to share their comments with Canberra Town Planning for consideration in our professional submission.