Australia: Consultation on draft Tasmanian State Planning Provisions commences

Delivering on a 2014 election promise, Tasmania's Government is progressing its plan to establish a single state-wide planning scheme.  Significant amendments to the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993 (LUPA) were passed in late 2015, and the Government has yesterday released a set of draft State Planning Provisions for public comment.

The implementation of a single Tasmanian Planning Scheme is the cornerstone of the Government's package of planning reforms which are being progressively rolled out throughout the State.

Phase 1 of the reforms saw a streamlined process for the finalisation of interim planning schemes across Tasmania's existing 29 local councils being introduced under the Land Use Planning and Approvals (Streamlining of Process) Act 2014 which came into effect on 1 January 2015.  All local councils have now adopted interim planning schemes.

Phase 2 of the planning reforms involves the passage of the Land Use Planning and Approvals (Tasmanian Planning Scheme) Act 2015 (the Act), which came into effect in late 2015.

The Act establishes a structure for the Tasmanian Planning Scheme which will consist of: 

  • State Planning Provisions (SPPs) – which will include state-wide objective provisions, planning definitions, land use classes, exemptions, use and development controls for each zone, a suite of state-wide codes and a template for the local conntent of the scheme; and 
  • Local Provisions Schedules (LPS) for each municipal area – which will include local objective provisions, zone and overlay maps that spatially apply the SPPs, particular purpose zones, specific area plans and any approved site-specific variations. 

The single Tasmanian Planning Scheme

The single Tasmanian Planning Scheme will replace all existing interim planning schemes, with the objective of introducing greater consistency in the application and administration of planning controls across the State.

The draft SPPs for the Tasmanian Planning Scheme were released for public comment on 15 March 2016, with a closing date of 18 May 2016.  The documents can be viewed and downloaded from the Tasmanian Planning Commission's website. 

When the SPPs are finalised, local councils will then develop their own local content for the LPS based on the SPP template which will involve a translation of the content in their interim planning scheme, with necessary amendments.  The LPS content for each municipal area will be finalised following a 60 day period of statutory public consultation and assessment by the Tasmanian Planning Commission.

The Tasmanian Planning Scheme will ultimately come into effect in a municipal area when the LPS for that area is approved.  

Once the SPPs are finalised, they will can only be amended by the Minister for Planning and Local Government or the Tasmanian Planning Commission (at the Minister's direction).  Amendments to the LPS will be prepared by local councils, and approved by the Tasmanian Planning Commission.

Other planning reforms

As originally drafted, the Land Use Planning and Approvals (Tasmanian Planning Scheme) Bill 2015 also proposed amendments to reduce the assessment timeframe for permitted use and development applications from 28 to 21 days and to introduce a mechanism which stopped the assessment clock from running when an application is the process of being referred to TasWater.  However, these provisions were knocked out of the Bill during its passage through the Legislative Council.

Additional reforms are on the Government's agenda to address further election promises, including introducing Ministerial call-in powers and limiting third party appeals to persons whose interests are directly affected or who hold a long standing interest in the subject matter of the application. 

Next steps

Although the SPPs are general in their application, careful thought should be given to the possible implications of the SPPs for all sites within an organisation's portfolio, and submissions should be made to the Tasmanian Planning Commission by 18 May 2016.  It may be necessary to obtain specialist legal, planning or other expert input in order to bring together a comprehensive submission.

Organisations should also have regard to the impact of the reforms on live or proposed permit applications.  A permit application will be determined pursuant to the 'law of the day', regardless of whether it is submitted prior to the Tasmanian Planning Scheme coming into operation for the relevant area.  The Act provides that permit applications submitted before the commencement of a relevant LPS can be withdrawn, but otherwise makes no special allowances for permit applications submitted before commencement of the new scheme but assessed after commencement.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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