What We Have Heard Report — Phase Three of the Planning and Design Code (Urban Areas)

23 June 2020

This much anticipated Report was published by the State Planning Commission (“the SPC”) on 17 June 2020.

In considering the Report, it must be remembered that Phases 2 and 3 of the Planning and Design Code are, in fact, Code amendments. The Code was established with the commencement of Phase 1 (Outback Areas) last year. Each of Phases 2 and 3 will add to/amend the Code. This means that amendments undertaken to the Code in the Phase 2 implementation will not need to be repeated in Phase 3.

For details as to the amendments proposed in Phase 2, click here.

The Report focusses on comments made during public consultation and possible amendments to be proposed to Phase 3 of the Code, prior to Ministerial approval through a report under section 73(7) of the PDI Act.

Of interest, the Report summarises submissions received on particular forms of development from particular stakeholders and suggestions for ways in which the Code can be improved but, unlike the similar Report for Phase 2, it does not summarise amendments that the SPC intends to make to the Code.

Rather, the SPC has confirmed that it requires ‘more time to work through’ the submissions received and the proposed amendments to Phase 3 of the Code. The responses will be detailed within the section 73(7) report which will be release by the SPC ahead of the anticipated September 2020 commencement date for Phase 3.

There will not be any further opportunity for formal consultation on the matters raised in the Report or proposed amendments to Phase 3 of the Code.

The purpose of the Report is, simply, to summarise submissions and the issues raised. Many issues in the Report reflect current community concerns and matters which give rise to compliance, compliance matters and legal disputes for councils in their role as a relevant authority.

The issues raised by various stakeholders do not come as any surprise as they reflect many controversial topics which cause legal and other disputes in our current planning system. These topics include:

  • density of residential development, the siting of higher-density and infill residential development, tree canopy loss, site areas and impacts on existing developments;
  • heritage – including the need for greater emphasis on the retention and conservation of heritage places and design guidelines for new development;
  • the need for valuable primary production areas to be preserved and protected from urbanization. To this end, the naming of the proposed ‘Peri-Urban Zone’ appears likely to be revised to better reflect the intent and objective of that Zone;
  • the need for retail developments to be carefully planned and, to this end, the maintenance of retail development ‘hierarchies’ and consideration as to the location of bulky goods outlets;
  • inclusion of sustainable development and climate-change provisions in the Code for new developments; and
  • ensuring that bushfire mapping, flood mapping and other hazard mapping is as up-to-date as possible, especially given the bushfires of this past summer and relatively recent flood events.

Given the considerable number of amendments to be made to definitions, public notification requirements and other criteria in the Code as a result of Phase 2 implementation, the amendments to the Code as a result of consultation on Phase 3 may, largely, be amendments to the assessment provisions of Zones and Subzones unique to Phase 3 areas, rather than amendments which affect the entirety of the Code.

We are keenly awaiting the release of the section 73(7) report on Phase 3 of the Code and will continue to keep you informed of further developments in this area.

Please contact Victoria Shute on vshute@kelledyjones.com.au if you would like further information.