Territory Plan overview

The authorised Territory Plan is available on the ACT Legislation Register.

The Territory Plan is the key statutory planning document in the ACT, providing the policy framework for the administration of planning in the ACT. The purpose of the Territory Plan is to manage land use change and development in a manner consistent with strategic directions set by the ACT Government, Legislative Assembly and the community. It must not be inconsistent with the National Capital Plan.

The Territory Plan includes a statement of strategic directions, a map (the Territory Plan Map) which sets out zones and precincts in the ACT, objectives and development tables applying to each zone, and a series of general, development and precinct codes.  It also includes structure plans and concept plans for the development of future urban areas.

The statutory requirements for the Territory Plan are set out in the Planning and Development Act 2007 primarily in Part 5.

The object of the Territory Plan is to ensure, in a manner not inconsistent with the National Capital Plan, the planning and development of the ACT to provide the people of the ACT with an attractive, safe and efficient environment in which to live, work and have their recreation.

The Territory, the Executive, a Minister or a territory authority must not do any act, or approve the doing of an act, that is inconsistent with the Territory Plan.

Varying the Territory Plan

The Territory Plan can be varied, subject to it being consistent with the National Capital Plan. Variations are usually necessary to update the policies to manage change brought about through economic, social, environmental, built environment and other factors. The following describes the process for varying the Territory Plan other than for technical variations.

Preparing a draft plan variation (other than technical variations)

Draft plan variations must be prepared by the ACT Planning and Land Authority. They are usually prepared either because of sufficient evidence by a lessee or their representative, or through the Planning and Land Authority's own initiative or because the Minister has directed the Planning and Land Authority to revise the Plan or a provision of the Plan. Current draft plan variations for public comment.

Considerations

If preparing a draft plan variation, the Planning and Land Authority must consider any relevant planning report or strategic environmental assessment and consider whether the variation would promote the planning strategy if a variation, once made, would vary the statement of strategic directions of the Territory Plan.

Public consultation

The Planning and Land Authority must make copies of draft plan variations and the associated background papers available for public inspection and comment.

Interim effect

Draft variations may have interim effect for a defined period meaning that during the defined period, in addition to not doing anything inconsistent with the Territory Plan, the Territory, the Executive, a Minister or a territory authority must not do any act, or approve the doing of an act, that is inconsistent with the Territory Plan if it were varied in accordance with the draft plan variation.

There are potentially two defined periods during which a draft plan variation may have interim effect:

  • one period applying from the initial consultation to public notification of the final draft variation as submitted to the Minister (if the initial consultation notice stated that the draft variation was to have interim effect) or 12 months, whichever is shorter
  • one period applying from public notification of the final draft variation as submitted to the Minister to passage through the Legislative Assembly and commencement.

Revisions or withdrawal

The Planning and Land Authority may revise or withdraw a draft plan variation after the end of the public consultation period. Unless a variation is withdrawn, the Planning and Land Authority must give a variation to the Minister for approval and give notice that the variation and other documents are available for public inspection.

Minister’s role

After the end of the consultation period and if it does not withdraw a draft plan variation, the Planning and Land Authority must give it together with the associated background papers and a written report on consultation to the Minister for approval.  On receipt of the documents, the Minister must approve the draft plan variation, return it to the Planning and Land Authority with written directions or refer it to an appropriate committee of the Legislative Assembly. If the draft plan variation is referred to a Legislative Assembly committee the Minister must wait for the committee’s report before subsequently approving it or referring it back to the Planning and Land Authority.

Approval and tabling in Legislative Assembly

If the Minister approves a plan variation, it must be presented to the Legislative Assembly. The Assembly has the power to reject the plan variation. If the Legislative Assembly does not reject the approved plan variation within five sitting days after it is presented, a date for commencement is fixed. Public notification of the commencement of the variation is required.

Technical variations

A technical variation is a technical amendment to the Territory Plan made under part 5.4 of the Planning and Development Act 2007. Proposed technical variations for public comment.

A technical variation can be in the form of:

  • an error variation (which corrects a formal error in the plan and does not adversely affect anyone’s rights if approved)
  • a code variation (only changes a code and is consistent with the policy purpose and policy framework of the code)
  • a variation in relation to a future urban area to change a zone or change a boundary (only if it is consistent with the structure plan) or where it ceases to be a future urban area (when an estate development plan is approved) – refer to sections 95 and 96 of the Planning and Development Act
  • a variation to ensure the Territory Plan is consistent with the National Capital Plan
  • a change to a boundary of a zone or overlay under section 96A of the Planning and Development Act.

Making a technical variation

If the Planning and Land Authority is satisfied that the proposed change to the Territory Plan can be considered to be a technical amendment and any required consultation has taken place, it puts the plan variation in writing.

Limited consultation

Limited consultation is required for code variations and variations in relation to the rezoning of future urban areas. The requirements for limited consultation are set out in section 90 of the Planning and Development Act 2007.

Considerations

If the technical amendment had limited consultation, the Planning and Land Authority must consider any representations that were made during the consultation period as well as any views of the National Capital Authority.

Commencement

A technical variation comes into effect on the date specified in the commencement notice. Once a plan variation is notified, the Planning and Land Authority will publish in the newspaper a description of the variation as well as the date it comes into effect.

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