About the Commission

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.

Commission members

The Commission comprises members with widespread expertise in planning, urban design, construction, public policy and risk management and an ex officio representative from the Department for Trade and Investment.

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
  • project delivery or executive leadership
  • development or building construction
  • public, social or environmental policy
  • local government, public administration or law.

Further information

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 South 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.

Further information

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.

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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 2021-2022.

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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.

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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 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.

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Commission projects

The State Planning Commission is progressing a range of projects that will enhance the planning system and consider the future needs and growth of South Australia and its communities.

The State Planning Commission is committed to ensuring that the planning system is responsive to climate change.

The Commission has already implemented a range of important environment and climate related policies as part of the new planning system including:

  • State Planning Policy 5: Climate Change’ – the highest level of planning policy in the new system that addresses the key strategic priorities for South Australia.
  • New residential infill policies to encourage tree planting, soft landscaping and stormwater detention and reuse to be incorporated into residential development.
  • Water Sensitive Urban Design for commercial, master planned residential and infill development.
  • New Native Vegetation Overlays to ensure removal is considered upfront in a planning assessment.
  • A range of Overlays protecting key environmental assets, such as coastal areas, watercourses, and the River Murray, including referrals to relevant state agencies.
  • Environmental performance policies for large scale mixed-use and commercial development.
  • Improved hazard mapping through the creation of overlays for bushfire, coastal and terrestrial flooding, and acid sulfate soils.
  • Promotion of walkable communities by promoting a greater mix of land uses in suburban areas, and a continued focus on infill development in well serviced locations.
  • Updated renewable energy policy to reflect new forms of energy generation and storage and policy to address overshadowing of solar panels.

In addition, there are a range of climate change initiatives currently being progressed by the Commission and Department, including:

  • State-wide Bushfire Hazard Overlay Code Amendment – to build the resilience of community, development and hazards form the impact of bushfire.
  • The Flood Hazard Mapping and Assessment Project – to deliver more consistent and contemporary mapping of flood hazards and take into account climate change on future development scenarios.
  • The Commission’s Open Space and Trees Project – including a review of regulated and significant tree legislation.
  • The development of urban tree canopy and landscaping guidelines in collaboration with Green Adelaide to support the implementation of the Code’s urban greening policies.

Each of these projects will further improve climate related policies in the Planning and Design Code and continue to position South Australia as a leader in the development of planning policies in response to climate change.

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.

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 involves four detailed design studies focusing on new opportunities for existing housing.

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’.

In May 2021, the ‘Co-Housing for Ageing Well Project’ won the Community Partnerships and Collaboration category of the Local Government Professionals Australia’s SA Leadership Excellence Awards Program and has been shortlisted as a finalist the 5thGuangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation.

The monitoring of land supply and demand is a core activity of Planning and Land Use Services (PLUS) within the Department for Trade and Investment. The Land Supply Report (LSR) for Greater Adelaide is a component of our Growth Management Program and provides data and information on land supply and demand. The LSR was formally called the Metropolitan Growth Management Plan, but has been renamed to better reflect its role in the broader management of growth and development across the State. The key components of the Growth Management Program are outlined below:

Growth Management Plan: Land Supply Reports; Population Projections; Regional Plans; Code Amendments; EFPA and CPD other policy reviews; On-line mapping & reporting tool (accessible information)

The LSR provides a point in time analysis of residential and employment land development trends, projected demand and land supply. This information will be used by the State Planning Commission as an evidence base to determine the capacity of the land use planning system to provide an adequate supply of appropriate land to meet market demand. The LSR does not make recommendations about the need for, or timing of, Code Amendments.

The LSR is being developed in four parts and is structured as follows:

  • Background and Context
  • Part 1:Greenfield
  • Part 2: Urban Infill
  • Part 3: Employment Lands

The LSR has been prepared with inputs from other key government agencies (Renewal SA, Housing SA, Department for Infrastructure and Transport). The LSR will be updated annually to provide contemporary data and information about growth and development across Greater Adelaide. The current Land Supply Reports for Greater Adelaide are available on the PlanSA portal.

The State Planning Commission has initiated the ‘Open Space and Trees Project’ to better understand the use and benefits of open space and trees in an urban context, and the impact of infill development on our urban tree canopy.

The Project aims to provide the Commission with a suitable evidence base to inform planning policy review relating to open space and trees in urban contexts.

The issues and opportunities to be considered within the Project include:

  • the impact of climate change and the ‘urban heat effect’
  • open space and urban greening policy and its contemporary relevance
  • loss of urban trees as a result of infill development
  • the potential imbalance between the value of regulated and significant trees, and the penalties which apply for their removal
  • inappropriate tree species included (or excluded) as regulated and significant trees.

The Project will be undertaken in three parts:

Part 1: Review trees that are exempt from regulated tree controls and quantify an appropriate off-set contribution for the removal of regulated and significant trees.

Part 2: Undertake a comprehensive review of regulated and significant tree regulations and legislative measures.

Part 3: Review the impact of infill development and the operation of the Commission’s ‘infill tree policy’ within the Planning and Design Code following 12 months of operation, with reference to the new Urban Tree Canopy Off-set Scheme, This review includes the fees set under the Scheme and the spatial application of the Scheme.

Additionally, as part of the preparation of the new 30-Year Plan for Greater Adelaide, commencing in 2022, the Commission will review the tree canopy target in light of data and methodologies available, and further investigate how the planning and development system can further urban greening outcomes.

Project progress

During 2021, a desktop review of the regulatory tree controls identified in Part 1 of the Project was undertaken by the Department for Trade and Investment, Planning and Land Use Services (PLUS).

In order to finalise Part 1 of the project, a more detailed analysis of tree species exemptions will be undertaken in consultation with the Department for Environment and Water, the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, and Green Adelaide.

Part 1 of the Project will also see a PhD researcher in environmental management engaged to prepare a detailed Options Analysis Paper for tree valuation methods, which will help to inform future regulatory reform options.

Next steps

A broader review of regulated and significant tree regulations (Part 2 of the Project) is programmed for 2022, but this will be subject to further consideration by the Minister for Planning.

Any proposed changes to regulations resulting from the Project will be the subject of community and industry consultation. Further analysis (including a regulatory impact assessment) might also be required to support any changes.

One of the key priorities in the State Planning Commission’s Strategic Plan 2022-23 is to plan for growth and change by leading the development of Regional Plans across South Australia including a new 30-Year Plan for Greater Adelaide.

Regional Plans set the direction for future planning and development of South Australia and fulfil the vision of the State Planning Policies.

Each Regional Plan provides a long-term vision (over a 15 to 30 year period) for the region or area, including provisions about the integration of land use, transport infrastructure and the public realm.

Under the PDI Act, South Australia is divided into 7 Planning Regions (PDF, 307 KB) which were proclaimed by the Governor on 19 March 2020:

Research on the next generation of Regional Plans has already commenced. Although all Regional Plans will be undertaken concurrently, the 6 Country Plans are expected to be completed prior to the Greater Adelaide Plan.

Whilst work is being undertaken on preparing a new Regional Plan for each of the Planning Regions, the existing South Australian Regional Planning Strategies continue to apply.

Learn more about Regional Plans on the PlanSA portal.

Commission engagement

The State Planning Commission undertakes a wide range of engagement activities to ensure planning 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 government and their elected members’ understanding of the new planning system and to help address concerns raised by their constituents.

The Commission also attends and briefs council Mayors and CEOs of the Greater Adelaide Regional Organisation of Councils (GAROC) and South Australian Regional Organisation of Councils (SAROC).

Recent events include:

Upper Spencer Gulf Summit

Members the Commission travelled to Port Augusta on 31 May 2022 to take part in the Regional Priorities Forum organised by the Upper Spencer Gulf Common Purpose Group which is a strategic partnership between the cities of Port Pirie, Port Augusta and Whyalla. The forum provided an opportunity to discuss the future of this region and how the Commission can work with Upper Spencer Gulf councils as part of the regional planning program to map out and support a prosperous future for the area.

Regional Council CE Forum

On 27 May 2022, State Planning Commission Chair Craig Holden and the Minister for Planning, the Honourable Nick Champion MP, took part in a forum titled ‘Learn from the Past, Look to the Future’ which bought together over 20 regional council Chief Executives to map a bright future for regional SA. The forum included a Regional Planning showcase covering Coorong Council’s Growth Strategy, Robe Council’s ‘Robe 2050 Plan’ and the Upper Spencer Gulf Summit.

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.

Recent events include:

Community Alliance Deputation

In February 2022, members of the Community Alliance met with the State Planning Commission to discuss planning matters of significance to the community including tree laws and improvements to community engagement. The meeting included presentations from CASA President Dr Iris Iwanicki, Conservation Council representative Tom Morrison and 5049 Coastal Community Association’s Dr David Cruikshanks-Boyd.

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:

Green Adelaide Leaders Series

In May 2022, State Planning Commission Chair Craig Holden had the opportunity to speak about the Commission’s ‘Open Spaces and Trees Project' at the Greening Adelaide Leaders Event organised by Green Adelaide. The event formed part of a series of collaborative engagements aimed at progressing an Urban Greening Strategy for metropolitan Adelaide. The Commission shares Green Adelaide’s vision for a cooler, greener and more liveable Adelaide and the event was a great opportunity to identify new partnerships and drive collaboration.

Urban Trees Offset Scheme Forum

In 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.

Residential Infill

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 (PDF, 3309 KB)’ brochure.

The State Planning Commission welcomes the opportunity to present at state conferences and major events to provide advice and updates on planning and policy initiatives. The Commission has undertaken a broad range of speaking opportunities at events hosted by the following organisations:

  • Australian Institute of Architects (AIA)
  • Australian Institute of Building Surveyors (AIBS) SA Chapter Conference
  • Australian Institute Landscape Architects (AILA)
  • Conservation Council of SA
  • Cooler Greener Adelaide
  • Green Adelaide (replace ‘Cooler Greener Adelaide’)
  • Local Government Association
  • Master Builders SA
  • Planning Institute of Australia (PIA)
  • South Australian Heritage Council
  • University of South Australia
  • Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA)