Accredited professionals scheme

The Accredited Professionals Scheme enhances the decision-making in the planning system and gives applicants greater confidence in the way that their development applications are assessed.

Any decision-maker in the planning system who is involved in assessing development applications can apply to become accredited under the new scheme.

About the scheme

The Accredited Professionals Scheme provides reliability, flexibility and accountability of decision-makers in the planning system. The scheme gives development applicants greater confidence in the way their submissions are assessed.

The Accredited Professionals Scheme began on 1 April 2019. All planning and building professionals can apply to become accredited.

Under the scheme, planning and building professionals who assess development applications must maintain minimum standards of professional practice and produce evidence that they are sufficiently qualified to make key decisions at certain levels.

Applicants for accreditation must lodge their application accompanied by evidence that supports their eligibility to become accredited in the class that they request.

The Chief Executive of the Attorney-General's Department (AGD), is the Accreditation Authority and offers accreditation for planning and building professionals.

Once accredited, they are registered in a central database managed by AGD.

All Accredited Professionals must:

  • hold professional indemnity insurance
  • comply with an Accredited Professionals code of conduct
  • participate in annual compliance checks
  • complete specified units of continuing professional development.

The Accredited Professionals Scheme is part of the new planning system created under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016.

Land surveyors, planning and building professionals can apply for accreditation now. Different practitioners will need to become accredited at different times.

Council building officers

Existing council building officers will not need to become accredited until the Planning and Design Code (the Code) becomes effective in the council area in which they operate. From this point council will need to ensure that they obtain advice from an appropriately accredited building professional before issuing building consent.

Council planning officers

Existing council planning officers may not need to be accredited at all if they are operating under the delegation of an assessment manager, who will be accredited at Accredited Professional Level 1. However, some assessment managers may want their council planning officers to be independently accredited at Planning Level 3 or 4 (this will be at the discretion of the assessment manager).

Some assessment managers may want their council planning officers to be independently accredited at Planning Level 3 or 4.

Assessment managers and assessment panel members

While the date of 1 July 2019 was proclaimed as the designated day in relation to clause 16 of Schedule 8 of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016, regulation 10 of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2017 provides that an assessment panel member or an assessment manager do not need to be an accredited professional until such time as the relevant development plan is revoked. Members of assessment panels and assessment managers in Phase 2 councils should now be accredited, however, the requirement to be accredited does not apply in Phase 3 councils until such time as the Planning and Design Code is in operation.

Private certifiers

For private certifiers, transitional provisions will apply from 1 July 2019. Private certifiers will be deemed to be accredited in the class that corresponds with their current activities, as determined by the Accreditation Authority.

Their professional registration will expire on the anniversary of their registration, and they can continue practising at their current level until then.

The following groups will not require accreditation:

  • Elected members or former elected members who sit on a Council or Joint Planning Board assessment panel [1].
  • Planning professionals who are assessing development applications under delegation for an Assessment Manager or Assessment Panel at a council.
  • Planning professionals who are not acting as relevant authority for planning consent.
  • Building professionals who are not acting as relevant authority for building consent.
  • Surveyors who are not acting as relevant authorities for land division applications seeking planning consent.

[1] Council and Joint Planning Board assessment panels can include an elected member or former elected members who are not accredited professionals. The council needs to be satisfied that a person is appropriately qualified to act as a member of the assessment panel based on the person's experience in local government.

To become an Accredited Professional, practitioners will need to be accredited by the Chief Executive of the Attorney-General's Department (AGD), known as the Accreditation Authority.

An application for accreditation will need to be lodged and accompanied by evidence that supports practitioners’ eligibility to become accredited in the class that they request.

Evaluation of applications

All applications for accreditation under the Scheme will be evaluated by either AGD or a selected service provider (such as those named above) on behalf of AGD. However, only the Chief Executive of AGD will have the authority to officially offer accreditation to applicants.

Conditions of accreditation

As an ongoing condition of accreditation under the Scheme, practitioners will not only be expected to demonstrate that they have maintained suitable skills, knowledge and qualifications, but will also be required to maintain an appropriate level of insurance; comply with the Accredited Professionals Scheme Code of Conduct; and notify the Chief Executive of AGD of any change to their professional circumstances.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

Regulation 17(1)(a) requires accredited professionals to hold a policy for Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) that is reasonable and adequate taking into account the amount and nature of work undertaken by the accredited professional unless a Regulation 17(2) exemption applies. The accreditation authority has determined that the minimum levels of insurance considered reasonable and adequate are:

  • Accredited Professional – Building level 1 - $5,000,000;
  • Accredited Professional – Building level 2 - $2,000,000;
  • Accredited Professional – Building level 3 - $1,000,000; and
  • Accredited Professional – Building level 4 - $1,000,000

The onus is on each individual accredited professional to assess their own circumstances and ensure that their level of PII cover is adequate taking into account the nature and amount of work undertaken or you may be liable for claims above the level of your insurance cover.

Recognition of equivalent schemes

Under the Accredited Professionals Scheme regulations, those practitioners who are registered and certified with a professional body under a recognised equivalent scheme may receive automatic accreditation under the new Scheme at a reduced fee. They must still apply for accreditation but their existing certification may be taken as evidence that they meet the requirements of the accreditation class in which they wish to operate.

There will be several classes of accreditation available under the Scheme and each will require a different level of qualification and experience. The accreditation classes are not dissimilar to the accreditation levels identified by the Planning Institute of Australia, the Australian Institute of Building Surveyors, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute

Planning professionals and surveys

There are four classes of planning accreditation available as well as a class for surveyors under the Scheme. Each class requires different qualifications and experience, and each level is able to assess different types of proposals.

Accreditation Class

Approved Activities

Planning Level 1

Assessment Manager

  • Assess 'deemed-to-satisfy' developments
  • Includes the assessment of one or more minor variations to the deemed-to-satisfy criteria
  • Assess 'performance-assessed' developments not assigned to Assessment Panels
  • Assess and approve land division consent, including community titles and strata titles*

Planning Level 2

Assessment Panel Member

  • Assess 'performance-assessed' development applications that are publicly notified

Planning Level 3

Accredited Professional

  • Assess 'deemed-to-satisfy' developments
  • Includes the assessment of one or more minor variations to the deemed-to-satisfy criteria

Planning Level 4

Accredited Professional

  • Assess 'deemed-to-satisfy' developments
  • Excludes the assessment of one or more minor variations to the deemed-to-satisfy criteria

Surveyor

Accredited Professional

  • Assess 'deemed-to-satisfy' land divisions (planning consent only)

*All approved activities are subject to the Planning, Development and Infrastructure (General) (Development Assessment) Variation Regulations 2019

Building professionals

There are four classes of building accreditation available. Each class requires different qualifications and experience, and each class is able to assess different types of proposals.

Becoming accredited at Building Level 2 also includes Building Level 3 and Building Level 4 accreditation. This is the only higher level accreditation that includes accreditation at the lower levels.

Accreditation Level

Approved Activities

Building Level 1

Building Surveyor

  • Assess against the Building Rules and provide building consent, with no limitations
  • Undertake building inspections on behalf of a council
  • Provide planning consent to 'Residential Code equivalent’* development applications, to be determined by the Minister

Building Level 2

Building Surveyor Limited

  • Assess against the Building Rules and provide building consent, limited to buildings that are no more than three storeys in height or have a floor area of no more than 2,000m2
  • Undertake building inspections (for buildings they are accredited to assess) on behalf of council
  • Includes Building Level 3 and Building Level 4 accreditation

Building Level 3

Assistant Building Surveyor

  • Assess against the Building Rules and provide building consent, limited to Class 1 and Class 10 buildings that are no more than two storeys in height or have a floor area of no more than 500m2
  • Undertake building inspections (for buildings they are accredited to assess) on behalf of council

Building Level 4

Building Inspector

  • Carry out inspections as provided for under the practice direction on inspection policies

* All approved activities are subject to the Planning, Development and Infrastructure (General) (Development Assessment) Variation Regulations 2019

The Accredited Professionals Scheme will help to facilitate the following:

  • Better decision making
    The Scheme will ensure that planning and building professionals are suitably qualified and experienced to assess development applications and that they adhere to relevant planning requirements and a strict code of conduct.
  • Improved recognition of professionals
    The Scheme will publicly recognise the skills and experience of planning and building professionals and the value they bring to the decision-making process.
  • Faster processing for applicants
    Development applicants will have the choice to engage accredited professionals in the public or private sectors, resulting in faster and more responsive turnaround times on applications.
  • Better management of complaints
    The Scheme will provide a clear auditing and compliance process to ensure that all decisions are transparent and that issues and complaints can be investigated swiftly and fairly.
  • Centralised public register for all accredited professionals
    All Accredited Professionals will be registered on a central directory on the PlanSA website, making it easier for users to access up-to-date information on all planning and building decision-makers, including their areas of expertise.

There are a number of significant benefits to becoming accredited as a decision-maker in South Australia’s planning system:

  • As an Accredited Professional, your skills and experience in the development assessment process will be formally recognised and the importance of your role in the planning and development profession will be elevated sector-wide.
  • You will also be part of a high-profile community of practice that leads the nation in professional standards and conduct and values ongoing professional development.
  • Accredited professionals will also benefit from applicants having greater confidence in the development assessment process and the people who administer it through enhanced accountability and flexibility.
  • Importantly, clearer auditing and compliance processes will be available to all accredited professionals to ensure that all issues and complaints are investigated swiftly and fairly and practitioners can continue to do their work without unwarranted or prolonged disruption.

Consultation

A record of public consultation relating to this scheme is listed below.

Closed 30 April 2018

This consultation has closed.

The discussion paper on the Accredited Professionals Scheme was made available for public consultation from 4 February – 30 April 2018.

The scheme will create consistency in decisions made, more transparent accountability and more choice for professionals and applicants when engaging with the development process in South Australia.

Accredited professionals under the scheme will need to meet prescribed requirements for qualifications, experience and specialist knowledge relevant to the type of work they are performing.

Your input has been used to develop the Draft Accredited Professionals Scheme via Regulations to the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 and released for consultation in August of 2018.

A What We Have Heard report based on feedback received has been circulated to all engagement participants and published on the PlanSA website.

Closed 17 October 2018

This consultation has closed.

The Accredited Professionals Scheme Draft (PDF, 916 KB) comprised of the Accredited Professionals Regulations (the Regulations), the Accredited Professionals Skills and Experience Requirements, and the Accredited Professionals Code of Conduct.

Your input was used to develop the Accredited Professionals Scheme via Regulations to the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016.

It is anticipated that planning and building practitioners will be able to apply for accreditation in mid-2019

A What We Have Heard report was prepared summarising the key messages that were communicated to the Department throughout the consultation process. It also offers some clarification in response to common queries that were received in submissions.

This report has been published on the PlanSA website and distributed to all engagement participants.

Documents

If you can't find a document, try searching PlanSA's resources library.