Changes to the Territory Plan, such as draft variations, can have interim effect for a particular amount of time.
This means that during the period of interim effect individuals or the government cannot do anything that is inconsistent with the Territory Plan if it were changed in accordance with the draft variation.
Why have interim effect?
Interim effect is provided for in the Planning and Development Act 2007 and is considered on a case by case basis.
Draft variations are placed on interim effect where there is a public benefit for doing so. This is particularly important for key policy initiatives and the introduction of improvements to planning practice in the ACT.
Without interim effect, a rush of development applications prior to the commencement of a plan variation could undermine the intent and effectiveness of the proposed variation.
This could create a speculative environment in which proponents may be compelled or feel pressured to bring forward development proposals ahead of any proposed changes. This can sometimes be fuelled by misinformation about the proposed changes and their perceived implications.
Examples of interim effect
For draft variations involving a change of zoning, development applications could only be made for development which is assessable (i.e. not prohibited) in the proposed zones. If a development is assessable in the existing zone, but prohibited in the proposed zone, then the development application could not be approved.
For draft variations that propose changes to Territory Plan provisions, the same principles apply. Where a proposed provision conflicts with an existing provision, the proposed provision applies.
For example, if a draft variation proposes increasing a height limit from two storeys to four storeys, development applications would be able to comply with the four storey limit. Conversely, if a draft variation proposes reducing a height limit from four storeys to two storeys, development applications would need to comply with proposed two storey height limit.
When does interim effect apply?
Draft variations can be made to have interim effect at the time they are placed on public notification and/or when the draft variation is recommended to the Minister. The relevant sections for interim effect at the time of public notification are in sections 57(2) and 65 of the Planning and Development Act 2007. The sections for interim effect for when a draft variation is recommended to the Minister are in sections 57(4) and 72 of the Act.