SA Planning Reform: A Brave New World

Victoria ShuteVictoria Shute, lawyer at KelledyJones Lawyers, provides a summary of planning law reforms scheduled to commence in South Australia in 2020 and their significance to all elements of planning and development law. She will be facilitating the upcoming workshop SA Planning Law Reform on Tuesday 17 March 2020. 


South Australia’s Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 is scheduled to commence in full operation in 2020.  This Act proposes an entirely new legislative framework for the approval of developments, the regulation of land uses, building work and building safety, planning policy initiatives and infrastructure contributions.

The Act is a culmination of a long reform process driven by the Expert Panel on Planning Reform, appointed to independently review the Development Act 1993 which has been in operation for over 20 years.

The PDI Act proposes many new and innovative planning and development frameworks, including:

  1. a wholistic Planning Portal which incorporates electronic planning assessments and determinations, centralised record-keeping, sophisticated land mapping and data as well as all legislated and other assessment and guidance documents;
  2. a single Planning and Design Code to replace the 72 Development Plans adopted under the Development Act.  The Code is intended to ensure greater consistency in planning criteria for developments across the State;
  3. new building safety, inspection and enforcement mechanisms to ensure that buildings constructed in South Australia are safe and in accordance with the Building Rules;
  4. many and varied infrastructure contribution frameworks which apply to local and State, direct and indirect infrastructure contributions for new developments.

The PDI Act poses many challenges and opportunities for developers, property owners, community groups, councils and the State Planning Commission including, but not limited to:

  • the implementation of the Code and its application and interpretation;
  • stricter assessment timeframes and consequences for breaching them for relevant authorities;
  • different public notification requirements and a focus on community engagement during the formation of planning criteria, rather than upon individual development applications;
  • e-planning and the related ‘centralisation’ of record keeping;
  • new methods for securing valuable infrastructure contributions and ensuring their value to developers and the community.

The PDI Act represents once-in-a-generation reform; its significance cannot be understated.  It is vital that lawyers practicing in development law, property law, building and construction law, heritage and conservation law as well as planning and environment law are abreast of the PDI Act and are prepared for its implementation.

Victoria Shute is a specialist practitioner with extensive experience in providing advice and representation to councils, statutory bodies and private clients on planning, building and environmental issues. Victoria’s expertise has been recognised through her inclusion in the Best Lawyer’s Australia list as an outstanding practitioner in Planning and Environmental Law from 2014 to present as well as being recognised in Doyle’s Guide of Leading Planning and Environment Lawyers. You may connect with Victoria via email or LinkedIn