The Development Act 1993 (SA) contains procedures for amendments to Development Plans. This procedure involves public input through the opportunity to make representations and also a role for the Environment Resources and Development Committee of the Parliament for parliamentary scrutiny. The Act also requires councils to carry out periodic reviews of any Development Plan that applies within its area. The processes for ad hoc amendment and for periodic review of Development Plans are similar.
Formal public participation in Development Plan amendment or review consists of a right to make a written submission and to attend a public hearing called by the local council or the Minister to discuss the proposed changes. The period for submissions and the date of the public hearing must be advertised in a newspaper. Any submissions made become public documents and can be inspected at council offices, so it is important to avoid saying anything in the submission which could be interpreted as defamatory.
It is quite common for members of the community to take very little notice of Development Plan amendments, but to become quite vocal in their opposition to specific developments. In many cases, this situation could be avoided if community members participated in earlier decisions about zoning or objectives in the Development plan, rather than trying to argue against a specific development once it has been announced. For example, if there is concern amongst neighbours about a proposal to rezone certain land from 'light' to 'general' industry, then these concerns are better addressed during the Development Plan amendment process, rather than trying to challenge individual factories which seek to set up in the new zone. Once a rezoning has gone through, it will usually be too late to argue that the zoning is inappropriate or that it adversely affects local amenity.