20 Aug 2018

South Australia's draft State Planning Policies and policy discussion papers released – have your say

By Nicole Besgrove, Claire Smith and Nick Thomas

Development stakeholders in South Australia now have an opportunity to shape the economic, environmental and social planning priorities for South Australia, via public consultation draft State Planning Policies and policy discussion papers which will inform the Planning and Design Code.

The South Australian State Planning Commission on behalf of the Minister for Planning has prepared 16 draft State Planning Policies (SPPs), the aim of which is to address the economic, environmental and social planning priorities for South Australia.  The draft SPPs and accompanying Summary have now been released for an eight-week statutory consultation period ending 7 September 2018 [UPDATE: The SA Government extended the consultation on 24 August to Friday 21 September].

The South Australian Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure has also released two policy discussion papers on Integrated Movement Systems and Natural Resources and Environment, which will inform the final version of the Planning and Design Code.  Feedback on these two policy discussion papers can be provided until 3 December 2018. 

What are State Planning Policies?

Under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 (SA) (PDI Act), the purpose of SPPs is to set out the State's overarching goals or requirements for the planning system.

The SPPs will be given effect through the creation of other planning instruments, which include Regional Plans and the Planning and Design Code.

The SPPs' objectives and policies must be considered in the preparation of statutory instruments, Infrastructure Scheme proposals and Environmental Impact Statements (ie. when undertaking an environmental impact assessment for an impact-assessable development application).

However, the SPPs will not be taken into account directly for the purposes of any assessment or decision with respect to an application for a development authorisation under the PDI Act.  Instead, this is the role of the Planning and Design Code.

Legislated State Planning Policies

The draft SPPs contain the following five SPPs which must be made by the Minister under the PDI Act:

State Planning Policy 1: Integrated Planning

Objective:  "Integrated planning is an essential approach for liveability, growth and economic development, maximising the benefits and positive long-term impacts of development and infrastructure investment." 

State Planning Policy 2: Design Quality

Objective: "The Principles of Good Design are embedded within the planning system to elevate the design quality of South Australia’s built and natural environment and public realm."   

State Planning Policy 3: Adaptive Reuse

Objective:  "The adaptive reuse of existing buildings accommodates new and diverse uses." 

State Planning Policy 4: Biodiversity

Objective:  "Biodiversity is valued and conserved, and its integrity within natural ecosystems protected."

This includes principles that are to be applied with respect to enhancing biodiversity and minimising adverse effects of development on biodiversity within the State.

State Planning Policy 5: Climate Change

Objective: "Our greenhouse gas emissions are reduced and development that is climate-ready is promoted so that our economy, communities and environment will be more resilient to climate change impacts."

Ministerial State Planning Policies

The draft SPPs also include an additional 11 SPPs, which have been identified by the Minister for Planning to contribute to achieving the Government’s vision for South Australia, and include:

State Planning Policy 6: Housing Supply and Diversity

Objective:  "A range of diverse, affordable, well-serviced and sustainable housing and land choices is provided as, where and when required."

State Planning Policy 7: Cultural Heritage

Objective: "Places of cultural heritage significance and heritage areas are conserved for the benefit of our present and future generations."

State Planning Policy 8: Primary Industry

Objective:  "A diverse and dynamic primary industry sector making the best use of natural and human assets." 

State Planning Policy 9: Employment Lands

Objective:  "Employment lands are protected from encroachment by incompatible development and are supported by appropriate transport systems and infrastructure." 

State Planning Policy 10: Key Resources

Objective: "Key [mineral and energy] resources continue to contribute to our state’s economy and provide valued employment opportunities."

State Planning Policy 11: Strategic Transport Infrastructure

Objective: "Land development policies are integrated with existing and future transport infrastructure, services and functions to preserve and enhance the safe, efficient and reliable connectivity for people and business."

State Planning Policy 12: Energy

Objective: "The ongoing provision of sustainable, reliable and affordable energy options that meet the needs of community and business."

State Planning Policy 13: Coastal Environment

Objective:  "Protect and enhance the coastal environment and ensure that development is not affected by coastal hazards." 

State Planning Policy 14: Water Security and Quality

Objective:  "South Australia’s water supply is protected from the adverse impacts of development."

State Planning Policy 15: Natural Hazards

Objective: "Communities and developments are protected from the adverse impacts of natural hazards."

State Planning Policy 16: Emissions and Hazardous Activities

Objective: "Communities and the environment are protected from risks associated with emissions, hazardous activities and site contamination, whilst industrial development remains viable."

Policy discussion papers

As part of the new planning system in South Australia. the Planning and Design Code will be the State’s single planning rulebook for assessing all development applications.  Specifically, the Planning and Design Code will:

  • set out a comprehensive set of policies, rules and classifications which may be selected and applied in the various parts of the State for the purposes of development assessment and related matters within the State; and
  • incorporate a scheme that includes the use of zones, subzones and overlays and specify policies and rules which govern the use and development of an area within those zones, subzones and overlays.

Consultation on the second technical discussion paper "The Planning and Design Code: How will it work?" has recently been completed.  The Department has now released the following two policy discussion papers which will inform the final version of the Planning and Design Code:

  • Planning and Design Code: Transport and Integrated Movement; and
  • Planning and Design Code: Environment and Natural Resources.

There will be two additional policy discussion papers on People and Neighbourhoods and Productive Economy and it is understood that these will be released shortly for consultation.

Integrated Movement Systems Policy Discussion Paper

The Integrated Movement Systems Policy Discussion Paper provides recommendations for the Planning and Design Code with respect to managing the interfaces between the South Australian transport systems and land use.  These include, for example: 

  • what existing policies within Development Plans and the South Australian Planning Policy Library are proposed to be transitioned to the Planning and Design Code;
  • policy areas for improvement, including opportunities to consolidate, rationalise and enhance a range of policies to ensure they perform at their best. These include (amongst others) those which support and protect current and future critical transport links and facilities, such as major freight corridors and seaports, those which relate to development near airfields, and opportunities to achieve greater standardisation with respect to car parking rates, geographical location and availability of public transport; and
  • areas of reform that will require more comprehensive investigation and engagement to deliver, including the wider application of contemporary mixed use zoning and policy as well as planning policy to support new appropriate emerging technologies (eg. autonomous vehicles, smart parking, electric vehicles and on-demand services)

Along with this Discussion Paper, the Department has also released a Background Paper and Summary.

Natural Resources and Environment Policy Discussion Paper

The Natural Resources and Environment Policy Discussion Paper provides recommendations for the Planning and Design Code with respect to South Australia's natural resources and environmental policies.  These include, for example:

  • what existing policies are proposed to be transitioned to the Planning and Design Code, for example the current policy which guides development in sensitive areas such as conservation parks, along the coast, and in areas of high environmental value and policy for energy efficiency, waste management and biodiversity;
  • policy areas for improvement including (amongst others) those which relate to state level planning issues (eg. bushfire, biodiversity, coast protection and water security), facilitation of water sensitive urban design and green infrastructure, and to encourage innovation in the planning system, and assessing and encouraging the uptake of energy efficiency, the use of renewables, and other sustainability technologies; and
  • areas of reform that will require more comprehensive investigation and engagement to deliver, including improved flood mapping and policies to assess flooding risks, policies regarding site contamination assessment and land reuse and improved policy for water resources, supply and security.

Along with this Discussion Paper, the Department has also released a Background Paper and Summary.

Have your say

Draft SPPs

In addition to making a written submission, there is opportunity to provide feedback on the draft SPPs via an online discussion, survey or a drop-in session on 24 August.

It is understood that a report on community feedback will be circulated to all participants in the engagement process in December 2018 and the final version of the SPPs will be published in 2019.

Policy discussion papers

You can provide your feedback on either or both of the two policy discussion papers by joining the online discussion, completing the online survey, taking part in a poll or attending a policy discussion drop-in sessions.

It is understood that separate reports based on feedback received on the Integrated Movement Systems Policy Discussion Paper and the Natural Resources and Environment Policy Discussion Paper will be circulated to all engagement participants early next year following the close of consultation in December 2018.

If you require any assistance with the preparation of a submission on the draft SPPs, feedback on either or both of the policy discussion papers or would like to understand the planning system in South Australia more generally please contact us.

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Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all States and Territories.