Planning reforms

South Australia is undergoing the biggest modernisation of its planning system in 20 years with the implementation of planning reforms.

A modern planning system is fundamental for South Australia, helping our state to remain liveable, prosperous and vibrant.

See how the new planning system is performing since going live in rural and outback areas of South Australia - Outcomes and Benefits.

The driver of reform

The new planning system is underpinned by the new Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 (the Act) which introduces a raft of new tools, including a 24/7 digital ePlanning system.

The Planning and Design Code is the cornerstone of the new system and will replace all council development plans to become the single source of planning policy for assessing development applications.

Once implemented, the Development Act 1993 will be replaced by the new Act state-wide and will no longer be operational.

Three phases of implementation

The new planning system will be implemented in three phases across South Australia, to support a smooth transition for councils, practitioners and the community.

With the implementation of each phase, relevant council Development Plans will be retired and converted to the Planning and Design Code.

Map and list of council areas included in each phase (PDF, 452 KB)

Piloting our new planning system in South Australia’s outback

On 1 July 2019, the first phase of South Australia's new planning system became operational in out of council areas, revoking the Development Act 1993. Three land not within a council area development plans were also revoked and replaced with the Planning and Design Code.

Out of council areas comprise 70% of South Australia and include our coastal waters, coastline and arid regions. Outback communities play an important role in driving our economy, particularly in mining, food production and energy generation.

Planning matters in out of council areas are managed by the state government, resulting in a minimal impact to councils.

Transitioning rural council areas with small towns and settlements to the digital planning system

On 31 July 2020, the second phase of South Australia's new planning system became operational for all rural councils with small towns and settlements. Country development plans have now been replaced with the Planning and Design Code.

Phase Two excludes regional towns and cities in rural areas.

Switching on the new planning system for urban council areas and councils with regional towns and cities

On 19 March 2021, the new planning system will become operational for all urban councils and councils with regional towns and cities. All remaining development plans will be revoked.

The implementation of Phase Three is the final milestone in delivering a new planning and development system for the state, replacing all operations under the Development Act 1993 with the new legislation.

Outcomes and benefits

The new planning system has been in operation since 31 July 2020 across rural and outback South Australia.

The accessibility to the online lodgement and monitoring of applications gives us real time information and insight into what applications are lodged, what they are for and how long they took to get through the approval processes.

This intelligence also provides the ability for continual and responsive changes to improve the planning system.

Many users have taken advantage of the new planning system. Below is snapshot of how the new system is performing.

Key indicators:

total development applications submitted is 2200 plus

Total development value $385m

Total system users = 2964 - as at 17 December 2020

Current application status - withdrawn 3.63%; submitted 15.17%; lodged 33.61%; granted 46.46% - as at 17 December 2020

Number of consents by type - 1305 planning, 1036 building, 18 land division - as at 17 December 2020

Total applications lodged deemed-to-satisfy or accepted = 23.54% - as at 17 December 2020

The new planning system will deliver better outcomes for South Australia's economy, environment and communities.

Benefits to South Australians

  • A collaborative, long-term strategic planning direction for South Australia
  • Collective goals developed by South Australians that unlock the state's social, economic and environmental potential
  • Clear and adaptive priorities for South Australia that are responsible to current and future trends
  • Policies that improve quality of life, employment opportunities and the experience of visitors

What delivers this

Benefits to South Australians

  • More opportunities for South Australians to help shape their community
  • Communities can better engage with the planning system via practical tools and easy-to-understand information
  • Simplified information to improve understanding of the planning system and encourage greater participation earlier in the planning process

What delivers this

  • The Community Engagement Charter outlines the principles of good engagement that must be adhered to when developing or amending planning instruments

Benefits to South Australians

  • One clear set of planning guidelines for the state
  • Consolidation of South Australia’s 72 complex development plans into one set of easy-to-understand planning rules
  • Delivering the Code electronically provides decision makers with the planning rules they need, saving time and improving consistency

What delivers this

Benefits to South Australians

  • An online ePlanning system that is easy to use and understand
  • One centralised place for all of South Australia’s planning and development matters
  • An electronic planning system to simplify processes and speed up the movement of information, saving all users time and money
  • Improved consistency of all planning decisions, with legislative amendments implemented centrally under standardised interpretation

What delivers this

  • ePlanning simplifies how community members, developers, decision makers and others interact with the planning system

Benefits to South Australians

  • New planning rules with a focus on good design outcomes
  • A renewed focus on creating buildings and places that meet the needs of people
  • Raising the benchmark of South Australia's built environment and character
  • Enhanced community understanding of the importance of good design

What delivers this

Benefits to South Australians

  • A consistent and simplified development assessment process
  • New assessment pathways that provide increasing certainty for simple developments and a tailored approach for more complex developments
  • Increased support for proposals that deliver real benefits to communities, such as roads, housing, infrastructure, community and business facilities
  • Faster approvals, with fast tracking of deemed-to-satisfy applications, and more consistent planning rules for performance-based assessments

What delivers this

Benefits to South Australians

  • Professionals making the right decisions for the right places
  • Greater confidence for applicants and communities that qualified and experienced professionals who undergo regular training are making planning decisions
  • More options for development applicants providing faster turnaround times on development applications
  • Recognition for professionals based on their skills and experience

What delivers this

Benefits to South Australians

  • Infrastructure that is identified, committed, costed and funded before it is required to be in place
  • Coordinated and equitable provision of infrastructure
  • Helping councils deliver infrastructure in their local area that will ensure local neighbourhoods can grow and prosper

What delivers this

Benefits to South Australians

  • New ways to monitor, improve and share planning activity
  • ePlanning enables accurate reporting on the planning system, automated from a central database and available to everyone
  • Identifies adjustments in policies, legislation and administration
  • Allows for continuous improvements and efficiencies in the planning system

What delivers this

  • ePlanning to monitor activity within the planning system
  • Performance indicators to ensure we are measuring the health of our planning system, so we can constantly improve

Benefits to South Australians

  • Protecting our environment and important agricultural assets
  • Preserves our unique natural landscapes, important environmental resources and renowned agricultural assets
  • Supports sustainable development and better use of existing infrastructure by concentrating development within established areas
  • Protects our food security, economic growth, local jobs and prized tourism areas as a premium producer of food and wine

What delivers this