Australian Capital Territory

New pre DA consultation guidelines to deliver better development outcomes in ACT

THE ACT Government has called for community and industry feedback on new guidelines that aim to encourage developers to have meaningful engagement with the community prior to putting in a development application.

Announcing the guidelines last week, ACT Chief Planner, Ben Ponton, said effective community engagement benefits the planning and development outcome of a project by allowing genuine feedback to be incorporated into the early design of a proposal.

Black Mountain, Canberra
Above: Black Mountain, Canberra / by Prescott Pym.

"When I first started in this position in April this year, I committed to improving the way government engages with the community on planning in the ACT. To be successful, this commitment will require a partnership between government, industry and the community," Mr Ponton said.

"Developers are currently required to consult with the community before submitting a development application on significant developments, such as residential developments over three storeys high and with 15 or more dwellings.

"While both community and industry groups support the current pre DA consultation rules they have also advocated for clearer and more prescriptive guidelines," Mr Ponton said.

Minister for Planning and Land Management Mick Gentleman said the new guidelines will help developers fulfil growing community expectations in line with industry best practice.

"We want the community to be fully informed and able to add value to projects based on local knowledge and ideas. The community know the area and the history of a site and can be a valuable source of information for the planning authority and developers," Mr Gentleman said.

The guidelines call for developers to:

  • Make documents such as site plans, elevations and landscaping plans, including proposed materials and finishes, available for the public to view online on the proponent's website or another appropriate location;
  • Conduct face-to-face engagement sessions with a diverse cross-section of the community; and
  • Submit their consultation report to the Planning and Land Authority as part of any subsequent DA documentation.

The proposed guidelines set out the minimum engagement requirements for developers where the proposal is for:

  • A building for residential use with three or more storeys and 15 or more dwellings;
  • A building with a gross floor area of more than 5,000 square metres;
  • Multiple buildings with a total gross floor area of more than 7,000 square metres;
  • A building or structure more than 25 metres above finished ground level; and
  • A variation of a lease to remove its concessional status.

In preparing a consultation report, developers are expected to include accurate details of the nature and extent of consultation undertaken and the main comments raised by the community.

"The ACT Government is committed to creating better planning processes, consultation and outcomes. The draft pre DA guidelines will strengthen community consultation processes so that diverse views are taken into account in major development proposals," Mr Gentleman said.

Mr Ponton said leading developers have already adopted many of these practices into their engagement process and have benefitted from listening to the local community.

"The detailed guidelines will enable all larger developers to follow their example and reap better project outcomes as a result," Mr Ponton said.

The draft guidelines have been released for community comment until 21 August 2017. More information is available from the ACT Government's 'Your Say' website at <https://www.yoursay.act.gov.au/pre-da-consultation-guidelines>.

Photo: Black Mountain, Canberra / 'Tall Tower, Long Shadow' / Prescott Pym / Licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC 2.0.

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