Fact sheets and educational material

What is a planning scheme?

A planning scheme is an instrument made by a local government that manages "development" by:

  • identifying zones and preferred development within zones to avoid land use conflicts;
  • identifying overlays to manage environmental constraints on development; and
  • development codes to govern construction, operation and design elements of development.

Types of development

Development managed by a planning scheme is generally limited to the following types of development: 

  • "material change of use of premises". Generally including:
         - the start of a new use of the premises;
        - the re-establishment on the premises of a use that has been abandoned; and
        - a material increase in the intensity or scale of the use of premises.
  •  "reconfiguring a lot". Generally including:
        - creating lots by subdividing another lot;
        - rearranging the boundaries of a lot; and
        - creating an easement giving access to a lot from a constructed road.
  • "carrying out operational works". Generally including:
        - excavating or filling;
        - undertaking works on public water supply or sewerage infrastructure;
        - placing an advertising device on premises; and 
        - undertaking roadworks on a local government road.

Click on the links to visits corresponding fact sheets that provide a 'how to' guide.

What is an assessment category?

A planning scheme manages development by identifying categories of assessment and applicable development codes within Part 5 - Tables of Assessment. The four assessment categories include:

Accepted development Development is exempt not requiring assessment against any codes or a development application. 
Accepted if complying with the acceptable benchmarks of applicable codes The person undertaking the development must complete a self-assessment for compliance with acceptable assessment benchmarks of applicable codes. If compliant, no development application is required; however, building approvals may be required. If non-compliant, development jumps up to code assessment. 
Code assessment A development application addressing applicable codes is to be assessed by the local government.
Impact assessment A development application addressing applicable codes is to be assessed by the local government and public notification of the proposal is required.

See development assessment tab for more information.

If an application is requires, then the application may also be assessed against other requirements such as a state planning instrument. If a planning scheme is inconsistent with:

  • a state planning instrument, the state planning instrument prevails to the extent of the inconsistency;
  • a planning scheme policy, the planning scheme prevails to the extent of the inconsistency; and
  • the building assessment provisions, the building assessment provisions prevails to the extent of the inconsistency.

State Interactive Mapping is a tool that aids in the identification of State planning interests that may require referral to state agencies during the development assessment process.

What is a zone?

Zones are utilized as a method to control the preferred uses within zone and avoid conflicts between sensitive uses and industrial uses. Part 5.5 Categories of Assessment - Material Change of Use specify what category of assessment each use is within each zone and applicable codes for assessment. See Zone Card fact sheets for more information.

What is an overlay?

Overlay maps identify the location and triggers for further assessment of environmental constraints affecting development including but not limited to flood, coastal, bushfire and landslide hazards. Where a development site is located within an overlay, Part 5.10 Categories of Assessments - Overlays, specifies the category of assessment and applicable overlay code that development must adhere to. Overlay codes are within Part 8 of the Planning Scheme and outline requirements to guide assessment (i.e. geotechnical report for landslide hazard) and required design outcomes to mitigate the constraint.

What is a development code?

Development codes specify assessment benchmarks that development must comply with to ensure construction, operation and design of a development is controlled in a manner that avoids adverse social, aesthetic and environmental impacts.

What is a Local Plan?

Local plans are developed to protect and enhance unique characteristics of a local area and are required when overarching zone and development codes for the region are not specific enough to protect the unique characteristics of an area into the future. Local Plan codes provide more specific assessment benchmarks than what is provided for in zone and development codes to ensure unique aesthetic, economic, environmental are maintained.

How does it all come together?

Planning is a matter of balancing interests and conflicts in a manner that is mindful of economic, environmental and social aspects of an urban system. The balance is achieved through categories of assessment that facilitate preferred and unfavourable types of development. Categories of assessment identify uses accepted within each zone, minimum lot sizes for subdivisions and applicable development codes that control various aspects of a development in order to ensure harmonious balance is maintained within the system, Overlays are an additional form of assessment utilized to ensure environmental constraints are managed by development in a manner that balances economic, environmental and social impacts.

The development application process combines this information for Council planners to assess and ultimately decide whether or not a development contributes to a balances urban system.

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