Planning and Development Act 2007

The Planning and Development Act 2007 explains common urban planning terms in the ACT. Here are just a few.

The following will need to be discussed in more detail:

  • structure plan
  • concept plan
  • estate development plan
  • planning report
  • strategic environmental assessment.

Wartburg translation

For all its completeness, the Planning and Development Act 2007 is not the most readable document. It starts with the lack of context setting. For anybody new to the topic, we need to understand where the Planning and Development Act 2007 fits into the larger picture. This sets the right expectations and aids understanding. Reading the Planning and Development Act 2007 is like being parachuted into a forest and having to find your way back home.

In castle 500 years ago (1521/22), Luther translated the New Testament into German. For a book that was commonly waved around in public, it may seem strange that few could actually read. It would seem, too, that the Planning and Development Act 2007 would be well serves with a “common English” translation. We would understand ACT urban planning better.

A Wartburg translation of the term “estate development plan” is next before proceeding to a few standard definitions.

What is an estate development plan?

An estate development plan sets out the proposed development of the estate, and the creation of blocks in the estate, in a way that is consistent with the concept plan (future urban area) and any other code that may apply. The estate development plan must identify:

  • the individual block boundaries inside the estate and the estate boundaries;
  • for future urban areas – the zones proposed for the estate and any existing zones that are to continue to apply;
  • and if not- the existing zones in the estate.

An estate development plan may include the following: design and construction requirements for roads; infrastructure works and landscaping; reticulated services; and works on public land. Additionally, it may include the areas reserved for particular purposes – such as building a primary school – or a tree management plan.


What is a structure plan?
A structure plan sets out principles and policies for development of the future urban areas.

Planning and Development Act 2007, 71.

What is a concept plan?
A concept plan—
(a) applies the principles and policies in the structure plan to future urban areas; and
(b) is a precinct code in the territory plan (see section 55 (3)) that guides the preparation and assessment of development in future urban areas to which the concept plan relates.

Planning and Development Act 2007, 71.

What is a planning report?
(1) A planning report is a report prepared to inform a decision to be made under this Act, for example, whether to grant a lease or prepare a variation (other than a major variation) to the territory plan.
(2) A regulation may prescribe what must be included in a planning report.
(3) In this section:
major variation, of the territory plan, means a variation that would, because of its scope or significance to the ACT, be more appropriately assessed by a strategic environmental assessment.

Planning and Development Act 2007, pages 75

What is a strategic environmental assessment?
A strategic environmental assessment is a comprehensive environmental assessment, suited to proposals in relation to major policy matters rather than individual development proposals.
Examples of when SEA may be prepared
1 major land use policy initiative
2 major plan variation

Planning and Development Act 2007, pages 75

Planning strategy
The Executive must make a planning strategy for the ACT that sets out long term planning policy and goals to promote the orderly and sustainable development of the ACT, consistent with the social, environmental and economic aspirations of the people of the ACT.

Planning and Development Act 2007, pages 81

Relationship with territory plan
(1) The planning strategy may be used to develop the statement of strategic directions in the territory plan.
(2) The planning strategy is not part of, and does not affect, the territory plan.

Planning and Development Act 2007, pages 81

Meaning of offset
In this Act:
offset, for a development that is likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact on a protected matter, means environmental compensation for the likely impact

Planning and Development Act 2007, pages 85

Relationship between development proposals and development applications
(1) A person who has a development proposal may apply to the planning and land authority for approval to undertake the development proposed.
(2) The determination of which assessment track applies to a development proposal is made by reference to circumstances when the application is made…

Planning and Development Act 2007, pages 98

Reserved areas—public land
Public land may be reserved in the territory plan, whether in the map or elsewhere in the plan, for any of the following purposes:
(a) a wilderness area;
(b) a national park;
(c) a nature reserve;
(d) a special purpose reserve;
(e) an urban open space;
(f) a cemetery or burial ground;
(g) the protection of water supply;
(h) a lake;
(i) a sport and recreation reserve;
(j) a heritage area.

Planning and Development Act 2007, pages 410

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