The Existing Activity Centres Policy Review DPA — “streamlining” the planning system ahead of the PDI Act implementation process

Currently there are 72 Development Plans in existence under the Development Act 1993. One of the primary objectives underpinning the new Planning and Design Code and Design Standards (which, together, form the “Planning Rules”) in the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 is to achieve much greater consistency in assessment criteria for development across the State.

The Development Act does contain mechanisms to allow multiple Development Plans to be amended simultaneously and in a manner which can better improve consistency – including a Ministerial Development Plan Amendment under section 26 of the Act.  It is the task of ensuring that all relevant Development Plans with their different Zones and structures are amended which makes this task difficult, costly and time-consuming, though not impossible.

The recently-approved Existing Activity Centres Policy Review DPA is an example of such an exercise.  This DPA, which affects 25 Development Plans within the Greater Adelaide region (except the City of Adelaide) greatly increases the range of “complying” forms of development within Centre, Shopping, Business and Mixed Zones.  It also removes floor-space triggers for non-complying developments, greatly increases category 1 and 2 forms of development in those Zones and amends off-street parking requirements on a consistent basis where development occurs near public transport routes.

This DPA will be followed by the Activity Centres and Shopping Growth DPA which will address commercial developments, particularly shops in areas not covered by the Existing Activity Centres Policy Review DPA. It will also increase consistency in assessment criteria for those developments across affected Development Plans.

These DPA’s together with the Inner Metropolitan Growth (Stage 1) DPA envisage an intent by the Minister to continue to simplify planning criteria ahead of the commencement of the PDI Act.

We will be watching DPA activity with interest over the projected 3-5 year implementation period for the PDI Act and sharing our thoughts and observations with you.