Australian Capital Territory

ACT Parliament passes reforms to streamline planning processes

THE ACT Legislative Assembly has unanimously supported important planning reforms that allow development applications to be considered concurrently with Territory Plan variations and environmental impact studies, Planning and Land Management Minister Mick Gentleman announced last week.

"With passage of the Planning and Development (Efficiencies) Amendment Bill (2016), the community will now be able to see and comment on a draft territory plan variation and the proposed DA at the one time. This significantly increases the transparency of the process and project proposal," Mr Gentleman said.

Sunset in Canberra
Above: Sunset in Canberra / by Prescott Pym.

"The advantage for the community of a concurrent process is that it consolidates all the relevant consultation for a development proposal into one package, allowing people to view the entire project holistically rather than having to consider each process in isolation of the other, often in an extended timeline.

"The new concurrent process encourages developers to undertake the necessary groundwork prior to lodging a DA, offer proposals that are not environmentally damaging, and to consult adequately with the community about a project.

"These new arrangements are optional, but if a proponent chooses, they are clear benefits to be gained and enable them to more effectively communicate about a particular proposal.

"The DA, the draft Territory Plan variation and the draft EIS will be assessed in exactly the same way as they are now. The way comments are published remains the same and entity and appeal rights remain the same," Mr Gentleman said.

The DA cannot be approved until all the other things running at the same time are finalised. For instance if the EIS is rejected or the Territory Plan is not varied then the DA cannot be approved.

"The Bill also allows a developer to lodge a DA in anticipation of an existing proposed draft variation being approved and for Territory Plan technical variations to be made for minor encroachments affecting un-leased land.

"These sensible reforms will speed up project delivery for local developers and give the community a comprehensive overview of projects on which they can provide fully informed input," Mr Gentleman concluded.

Photo: Sunset in Canberra / Prescott Pym / Licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC 2.0.

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