Introducing the Territory Plan

The ACT Territory Plan is a mystery for most. Here is a short explanation of what is found in Territory Plan.

The Territory Plan

Imagine you needed a map to drive around Australia. If you wanted to create such a thing, you could call it an Australian map. It covers the area of Australia, but is typically called a road map. The map shows roads, the area it covers is incidental.

Similarly, the Territory Plan covers the area of the Australian Capital Territory, but this means little. The Territory Plan is a suburb by suburb description of the land use in the ACT. The Territory Plan is the instrument to plan and document the ACT’s spatial development.

What does the Territory Plan contain?

  • A statement of strategic directions
  • A map, including zones and overlays
  • Objectives and development tables for each zone
  • Codes


Zones appear as coloured squares on the map. The map is divided into zones. Zones are grouped into categories. Zones belonging to a category are numbered. For example, the Residential Zone category has five types.

Grouping zones by categories:

  • Residential Zones (RZ)
  • Commercial Zones (CZ)
  • Industrial Zones (IZ)
  • Community Facilities Zone (CFZ)
  • Parks and Recreation Zones (PRZ)
  • Transport and Services Zone (TSZ)
  • Non-Urban Zones (NUZ)

Residential Zone category types:

  • RZ1 Suburban Zone
  • RZ2 Suburban Core Zone
  • RZ3 Urban Residential Zone
  • RZ4 Medium Density Residential Zone
  • RZ5 High Density Residential Zone

Each zone has its own Objectives and Development Table document, which describes what can and cannot be done in that zone.


The Territory Plan is a map of the ACT where the territory is broken in many small blocks with each block being allocated a type of use which is described by the zone type. The maps are colourful as each zone has its own colour. The colours are standardised, with for example, Residential Zones in shades of red, Commercials Zones in shades of blue, and Community Facilities Zones in yellow.

The maps are really only useful for planning. They do not show land features, topographic information, building, landmarks, roads, and many other useful things you often see on maps.

Legend for Territory Plan maps
Example of the Territory Plan for Taylor, Gungahlin.


Each zone category has its own Code. Codes described what is permitted and what is not. The Residential Zone Code is special and has three Development Codes.

Development Codes:

  • Commercial Zones Development Code
  • Industrial Zones Development Code
  • Community Facilities Zone Development Code
  • Parks and Recreation Zones Development Code
  • Transport and Services Zone Development Code
  • Non-Urban Zones Development Code

Residential Zones Development Codes:

  • Residential Zones Development Code
  • Single Dwelling Housing Development Code
  • Multi Unit Housing Development Code

General Codes

General Codes apply across all zone types and are not specific to any type. From the 13 General Codes, here are a few examples: parking, signs, access and mobility, water use, and boundary fences.


The Territory Plan falls under the Planning and Development Act 2007.

What it IS:

  • it is all about land use
  • it says what can be built where
  • it say how things are to be built
  • it defines the requirement in terms suitable for the evaluation in the approval process
  • it applies to future urban areas as well as existing urban space
  • supports long term planning, structure plans, concept plans and estate plans
  • guides the Suburb Land Agency for release of land for sale
  • leases are written with reference to the Territory Plan

What it IS NOT:

  • it is not about transport
  • the road network and road reserves are planned by ACT Transport
  • does not advise on the management of lands designate as parks and reserves
  • nature reserves and national parks are managed by ACT Environment

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