South Australia’s principal planning advisory and development assessment body
The State Planning Commission has been established as the state’s independent, principal planning body that provides advice and makes recommendations on the administration of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016.
The State Planning Commission guides decision-making of state government, local government and community and business organisations with respect to planning, development and infrastructure provisions in South Australia.
The Commission was established on 1 April 2017 with the commencement of the new planning Act.
The Commission comprises four members with widespread expertise in planning, urban design, construction, economics and public policy and an ex officio representative from the Attorney-General’s Department.
Members of the Commission share expertise across a broad range of disciplines that span the planning sector to ensure they have the knowledge and representation to make informed decisions. These areas include:
- planning, urban design or architecture
- economics, commerce or finance
- development or building construction
- the provision or management of infrastructure or transport systems
- social or environmental policy or science
- local government, public administration or law.
How the Commission Works
The State Planning Commission aims to ensure that a high benchmark in both public integrity and contemporary land use planning in Australia is achieved as a result of the new Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016.
In light of this, the Commission has established its strategic governance framework and operating procedures to enable it to administer its duties and responsibilities under the PDI Act, including:
- establishment of the Commission’s Charter, operating procedures and delegations
- establishment of the Commission’s assessment sub-committee and sub-committee structure
- adoption of a code of conduct
- publication of an annual report
- publication of its strategic plan
The Minister has adopted a code of conduct (PDF, 400 KB) to be observed by members of the State Planning Commission. The code of conduct sets out standards of conduct and professionalism that are to be observed by all members of the State Planning Commission.
Regulation 9 of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure (General) Regulations 2017 prescribes the process to be followed if a person believes that a member of the Commission has acted in contravention of the code of conduct.
Much of the work undertaken by the Commission will be guided by the ‘principles of good planning’ outlined in the new legislation. Under these principles, the Commission’s work will:
- have a long-term focus
- be innovative and able to respond to emerging challenges and opportunities
- encourage the renewal of existing suburbs to reduce our urban footprint
- support high quality design which is accessible to people with differing needs and capabilities
- promote the use of walking and cycling trails
- support the liveability of suburbs through increased vegetation and more open space
- facilitate investment in the development industry
- promote the development of public transport of all types near suburbs, shopping and service areas and workplaces
- promote cooperation and integration between and among state government agencies and local government.
To achieve this, the Commission will help the Minister and the Department to create a planning system that:
- is easily understood and consistent
- enables people to digitally access planning information and undertake processes and transactions
- promotes certainty for those proposing to undertake development
- provides scope for innovation
- promotes safe and efficient construction practices
- provides financial schemes that support development and that can be used to capitalise on investment opportunities
- promotes cooperation and integration between and among state government agencies and local government.
The State Planning Commission will have a pivotal role in ensuring a smooth transition from the current system under the Development Act 1993 to the new system under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016.
The Commission is responsible for the development, delivery and ongoing management of many key elements of the new system which is why it commenced operation shortly after the PDI Act became live on 1 April 2017.
It is important to note that parts of the planning system will continue to operate under the Development Act 1993 until the new planning is fully implemented. This includes the assessment of all development applications made under the Development Act.
The State Planning Commission Annual Report is presented to Parliament to meet the statutory reporting requirements of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 and also the requirements of Premier and Cabinet Circular PC013 Annual Reporting.
The workload of the State Planning Commission will be significant in its first two to three years of operation as the elements of the new system are established and the planning instruments become operational.
Included in this are key responsibilities within the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 to lead planning policies, ensure genuine engagement with our community and effective delivery of the Planning and Design Code. In addition, the Commission will help focus future developments in a coordinated manner with the required and appropriate infrastructure provisions and provide guidance to local councils, practitioners and other users of the system in the delivery of a new planning services.
These core strategic initiatives are outlined in the Commission’s Strategic Plan 2020-2021.
To guide the State Planning Commission’s operations, a full suite of policies and procedures, meeting arrangements (including agendas and minutes), operating and complaint handling procedures are publicly available via the Commission’s Governance Manual.
Roles and Responsibilities
The Commission’s charter is to act in the best interests of all South Australians, promoting the principles outlined in the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 to encourage state-wide economic growth and support liveability.
The Commission reports directly to the Minister for Planning and Local Government and is responsible for:
- delivery of the new planning system and management of its instruments
- leading the development of planning policies that are informed by genuine engagement with our community
- ensuring future development is coordinated with the provision of public transport, roads, services and open space
- guiding councils and professionals in the delivery of new planning services
- providing advice and recommendations on government planning policy
- analysing and assessing upcoming development projects
- coordinating planning with infrastructure
- guiding local council and accredited professionals in the delivery of new planning services and community engagement.
The Commission will operate with the support of the Department which will provide professional and technical expertise, administrative services and corporate resources, to assist in the performance of its functions.
The Commission is responsible for guiding the implementation of the state’s planning system. In particular:
- establishing and maintaining a number of new legislative instruments outlined in the new planning Act including the Community Engagement Charter, Planning and Design Code and Design Standards for the public realm and for infrastructure
- reviewing the general infrastructure scheme
- preparing a Regional Plan for each planning region where no Joint Planning Board exists
- Development Assessment of prescribed classes of development
- providing advice about funding programs available for planning or development within the state
- undertaking and publishing relevant research and providing reports as requested by the Minister or determined by the Commission.
In addition to guiding the development of a new planning system, the State Planning Commission is progressing a range of projects that consider the future needs and growth of South Australia.
One of these exciting new initiatives is the development of the Metropolitan Growth Management Program (MGM).
The MGM seeks to aid the development of an efficient and sustainable pattern of settlement by utilising population projections, land consumption trends and infrastructure capacity to provide a 10 year program that identifies
- projected development demand (greenfield, minor infill, major infill, industrial and employment lands)
- the development supply options
- the infrastructure capacity of regions
- the need for new growth precincts.
Land and development opportunities available in the right place and at the right time provides certainty to the property industry, stabilises land markets and supports population growth. The timely provision of infrastructure helps to nurture healthy communities and the coordinated delivery of services.
The MGM program will be informed by the Regional Plan (30 Year Plan for Greater Adelaide - 2017 Update) and will in turn help to guide amendments to the Planning and Design Code. It will provide data and information to help facilitate the release of new land and identify new growth areas in a timely fashion to enable the coordinated and cost efficient provision of infrastructure.
The MGM program is an indication of the kind of policy reform and land use projects that the Commission will be leading in the future in response to societal changes based on evidence, research and data.
The State Planning Commission together with the Office for Ageing Well, the University of South Australia (UniSA) along with the Cities of Unley, Burnside, Prospect and Walkerville is working in partnership on a Co-Housing Project to test what housing options might be possible in response to the needs of older residents. The project will undertake four detailed design studies focusing on new opportunities for existing housing.
A significant number of older residents face few choices to ‘downsize’ in their current neighbourhood when their housing no longer suits their needs or when they wish to avoid living alone.
This project, significant in its scope and broad in its application, will for the first time explore a major gap in housing opportunities – the ‘missing middle’ of Adelaide’s older suburbs. The project is in response to recent demographic data that illustrates by 2036 that one in three households in South Australia is anticipated to have just one occupant, many of whom will be over the age of 65.
The project will investigate how existing older houses in Adelaide might be altered and extended to create one or more additional dwellings on an existing site to create socially cohesive co-housing arrangements for older residents wishing to stay in their own home – often referred to as ‘ageing in place’.
A hypothetical example to help illustrate a possible co-housing scenario is the story of Ron; a South Australian resident for 46 years. Ron’s wife passed away last year, and although Ron wants to stay, he finds it difficult to keep up with the maintenance of the large house and garden. Ron would like to share his property by building and renting a small unit in the rear of his property. The person renting could assist Ron with household duties and yard maintenance, they could share a meal regularly or work together on a vegetable patch. In this way, the project assists not only older people, but also those looking for reduced rent options or to better connect with their community.
The State Planning Commission undertakes a wide range of engagement activities to ensure planning reforms and broader policy initiatives are communicated to councils, community groups and peak industry bodies.
Recent highlights of the Commission’s engagement activities can be viewed below.
The Commission regularly hosts briefings to assist local lovernment and their elected members’ understanding of the new planning system and to help address concerns raised by their constituents.
During October 2019-February 2020, the Commission visited regional and metropolitan council areas to meet with councils and their elected members to discuss the draft Planning and Design Code on consultation.
In July 2020, the Commission held an online briefing to update councils on the feedback received during the Code consultation period, and to provide a demonstration of the ePlanning platform.
In November 2020, the Commission held a series of briefings to update councils and their elected members on the changes to the Code and the provision of a further six weeks of public consultation.
The Commission regularly attends and briefs council Mayors and CEOs of the Greater Adelaide Regional Organisation of Councils.
The Commission is regularly invited to speak at a range of public forums hosted by various community groups including the Community Alliance, historical societies and conservation groups amongst others.
As part of its Code engagement, the Commission hosted a Community Leaders Briefing in November 2020 to help improve public understanding of the changes made to the draft Planning and Design Code in response to community feedback. A range of community webinars and public information sessions were also conducted.
The Commission regularly hosts workshops, attended by a range of industry and business bodies, to investigate and progress different aspects of planning and development, including:
Throughout 2020 the State Planning Commission held a number of residential infill forums to hear from industry experts involved in the development of residential infill housing across Adelaide. This forum assisted the Commission’s understanding of the build process in terms of delivering a housing product and informed improvements to residential infill policy in the Planning and Design Code. These were subsequently released in ‘Raising the Bar on Residential Infill’ brochure.
Urban Trees Offset Scheme Forum
In January 2021, the Minister for Planning and Local Government and the State Planning Commission co-hosted the Urban Trees Offset Scheme Forum for industry, local government and community stakeholders. At the Forum the draft Urban Trees Offset Scheme was outlined with discussion centred around the overarching objective of the Scheme to encourage trees planting and how best to implement the Scheme. Key points included the proposed value for payments into the Scheme, and the areas where the Scheme would apply i.e. highly reactive soils and higher density zones.
The State Planning Commission welcomes the opportunity to present at conferences and committees to provide advice and updates on planning reform and policy initiatives. The Commission has undertaken a broad range of speaking opportunities at various events, including:
- Greater Adelaide Region of Councils (GAROC)
- Building Communities Forum
- Master Builders SA
- AIBS SA Chapter Conference
- University of South Australia
- UDIA State Conference
- Cooler Greener Adelaide
- Australian Institute of Architects (AIA)
- Australian Institute Landscape Architects (AILA)
- Annual Report 2018-19 (PDF, 1937 KB)
- Strategic Plan 2020-21 (PDF, 693 KB)
- Factsheet: Responsibilities and functions of the State Planning Commission (PDF, 333 KB)
- Factsheet: Role statement for Commission members (PDF, 230 KB)
- Factsheet: Elected Members on Assessment Panels (PDF, 304 KB)
- Code of conduct (PDF, 400 KB)
- Governance manual (PDF, 292 KB)
- Complaints handling procedure for Assessment Panels (PDF, 283 KB)