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Planning Policies

State Planning Policies

The State Planning Commission establishes and maintains the State planning policies for South Australia. The State planning policies are a statement of government policy on desired future directions on a range of economic, social and environmental issues. The concept of an overall strategy is supposed to provide guidance to government agencies and local government in carrying out its various planning functions. Planning regions are are required to establish their own regional plan, which must be be consistent with the State planning policies.

As the State Planning Policy is essentially an expression of government policy (formed after consultation with Government agencies and the community), it has little practical day to day application and does not affect legal rights or liabilities whether of a substantive, procedural or other nature. Thus, whilst it receives statutory recognition in the Act, it is essentially a non-statutory document and, apart from decisions on major projects (see Major Development (and Environmental Impact Statement), is not to be taken into account for the purposes of any particular development decision making.

The Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 expressly provides that the State Planning Policy is not to be taken into account for the purposes of assessing it against an assessment or decision for development approval. As such legal action cannot be brought on the basis that an assessment or decision on an individual development application is inconsistent with the State Planning Policy [s 58(4)].

Planning Regions

Under the Act [s 5(1)] the SA Governor has divided South Australia into specific planning regions. The planning regions can change from time-to-time, and must be proclaimed in the SA Gazette. The current planning regions are:

  • Greater Adelaide
  • Eyre and Western
  • Far North
  • Kangaroo Island
  • Limestone Coast
  • Murray Mallee
  • Yorke Peninsula and Mid North

Each planning region can also be comprised of sub-regions when appropriate, and has its own plan to guide development within that designated region. The purpose of the region plans are to identify specific development for that area. Regional plans for each region are available on the PlanSA - Regional Plans webpage (opens new window).

Planning and Design Code

The most important document in the day-to-day assessment of development applications is now the Planning and Design Code (the Code). The Code includes 'objectives' and 'principles of development control' against which proposed developments can be assessed. The zoning of areas into residential, commercial, industrial, rural and other zones is also achieved through Planning and Design Code.

Under section 66 of the new Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 the Planning and Design Code will, among other things:

  • Specify polices and rules to govern development across council zones;
  • Define and establish classifications for different land use;
  • Support adaptive re-use of buildings and places where appropriate; and
  • Define design standards for public spaces.

The previous Development Plan process has been replaced with the new Planning and Design Code. The Code is implemented through a new online planning system. Development applications are now submitted and tracked through an online ‘ePlanning’ portal. The Planning and Design Code will be applied in each planning region in a manner consistent with the relevant regional development plan.

For more information about what the changes under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 (SA) will mean for a local council, visit the Plan SA website or contact the local council authority.

The Planning and Design Code sets out the various Zones or Sub-zones that a development may be characterised into (for example, commercial and business zone, rural living zone etc.) Each zone has specific outcomes that it wishes to achieve through the development.

To determine what planning policies apply to a particular council area, or to browse the new Planning & Design Code, visit the Plan SA website (opens new window).

Practice Directions and Practice Guidelines

The State Planning Commission may issue Practice Directions. The purpose of a Practice Direction is to provide direction about specific procedural requirements or procedures in relation to any matter which may arise under the Act [s 42]. The SPC may also make a practice guideline in relation to the interpretation, use or application of the Planning Rules or Building Rules [s 43].

Practice Directions and Practice Guidelines issued by the SPC must be:

  • notified in the Gazette
  • published on the SA Planning Portal.

[s 42(4) and s 43(4), Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 (SA)].

Planning Policies  :  Last Revised: Mon Mar 15th 2021
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.