Phase 3 Planning Reforms


Phase 3 of Planning Reforms bring to end an eight-year wait

MARCH 2021

At a glance

  • ‘Go Live’ date 19 March 2021
  • Key priorities for business readiness
  • Learn more at the PIA ‘Planning in Focus’ session 31 March 2021: The Current State of Play: Stories from the Coal Face

​It has been over eight years since the Expert Panel on Planning Reform was appointed to comprehensively review the planning system in South Australia.

19 March 2021, has been earmarked as the end date for that journey, with the new Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 (SA) and Planning and Design Code (the Code) to commence across metropolitan and larger regional areas, under the third and final phase.

This is the largest reform of the planning system in South Australia (and possibly Australia) since the commencement of the Development Act 1993 (SA) nearly three decades ago. Conducting a legislative, policy and platform reform all at the same time is no small undertaking.

Whether you have followed the process closely or observed from a distance, the time has come for Local Government and their teams to get business ready.

Business readiness checklist

While business readiness will vary for each Council, the checklist below provides a good starting point as you prepare to ‘go live’.


Delegations under the PDI Act will look very different for Local Government, particularly as those powers and functions are delegated directly to a relevant authority.

This includes delegations from a Council Assessment Panel or an Assessment Manager. A relevant authority may delegate any function or power of the relevant authority directly to a person or the office or position (Section 100).  Delegation and sub-delegation may also be made from the Minister, State Planning Commission, the Chief Executive of the Department or a Joint Planning Board.

It will be important to ensure that staff are made aware of the delegations and sub-delegations that apply to their position. Particularly as such powers and functions will be different to what they have become accustomed to under the Development Act.

Accredited Professionals Scheme

The Accredited Professionals Scheme, which became operational on 1 April 2019, aims to ensure decision-makers in the development assessment process are appropriately qualified, and that a high ethical and professional standard is met.

As part of the scheme, all Certifiers, Planners, Surveyors and Council Officers will need to be registered and accredited within defined levels, and meet Continuing Professional Development standards.

The new scheme also includes revised procedures for complaints, investigations, compliance and enforcement, and auditing.

Usefully, the planning portal, has developed a searchable register, showing planning and building professionals, accredited under the scheme. The register details what each person is accredited for, their qualifications, the conditions that may apply and their contact details. It will be important to ensure that Council employee’s details on the register are kept up to date.

Know your Code of Conduct and General Duties

Schedule 3 of the Act sets out the Codes of Conduct that the Minister may adopt.

The Codes of Conduct set out the roles, responsibilities and standard of conduct and professionalism to be observed by various entities established under the PDI Act.

Codes of conduct have been published on PlanSA for accredited professionals, assessment panels, infrastructure scheme coordinators, joint planning boards and the State Planning Commission.

For accredited professionals, the Code of Conduct, among other things, requires that they must comply with their general duties under the Section 15 of the PDI Act. Section 91 sets out the consequences for failure to comply with a general duty or a provision of the Code of Conduct, with a maximum penalty of up to $50,000.

Accredited professionals will need to familiarise themselves with their Code of Conduct and the general duties which apply to them.

Creation of new Council inspection policies, statutory notices and forms

A state-wide set of Council inspection policies will be created to foster more consistency and a greater level of compliance across Council regions.

These new policies will be tailored to meet a range of Council requirements. This is a change from the current system whereby Councils determine many of their own inspection policies based on set criteria.

It will also be important for Councils to review their regularly used letters, forms, notices and precedents so that they reflect the new PDI Act sections and provisions.

Want to know more?  Planning In Focus with PIA - The Current State of Play: Stories from the Coal Face

With the imminent transition to the new planning system, Felicity Niemann and David Altmann of Development Answers are hosting a PIA “Planning in Focus” event: ‘The Current State of Play: Stories from the Coal Face’ on 31 March 2021 at Wallmans Lawyers.

For more details and to register: Events - Planning Institute of Australia

If your Council is in need of advice in relation to the new planning system and how to ensure you’re business ready, please seek tailored advice from one of our specialist Planning and Environment lawyers below.




The content of this newsletter is for general information purposes only and should in no way be treated as formal legal advice.