National Capital Design Review Panel

Design review is recognised across Australia and internationally as an effective way to raise the design quality of the built environment. It offers the opportunity for peer review of development proposals by independent design professionals with the aim of achieving the best possible outcome for development proposals and public spaces.

The National Capital Design Review Panel (NCDRP) is a joint initiative by the ACT Government and the National Capital Authority (NCA) to provide a single city-wide design review panel process before a development application is lodged. The NCDRP also offers an efficient and consistent approach to delivering independent and confidential design advice for development proposals across Canberra.

Under the supervision of the ACT Government Architect and the NCA’s Chief Planner, the NCDRP provides design advice to decision makers, developers and their design teams.

A set of design principles (Design Principles for the ACT) have been developed to support assessment of projects by the NCDRP and to provide guidance for proponents when preparing for review. The Design Principles for the ACT has been benchmarked against best practice from design review panel documentation across Australia and New Zealand.

NCDRP Snapshot.

The Panel

Panel members will be selected from a pool of experts identified for their skills, expertise and record of achievement in one or more fields relevant to planning, design and development.

The panel is composed to achieve a balanced representation of skills and experience in professions including Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Urban Design and Civil Engineering. Where a specific skill set is required, additional panel members will be called in on an as-needs basis. These may include advice from fields such as heritage, education, sustainability and environmental services, universal design, structural engineering and transport.

An expression of interest process will soon be undertaken to identify suitably qualified panel members.

Interim panel

The interim NCDRP commenced in September 2017 to provide independent, expert and impartial advice on priority and time critical proposals while the panel was being formally established.

The interim panel also allowed for the testing of the design review processes and provided the opportunity for those who went through the interim process to provide feedback to government. This feedback has been used to refine the NCDRP processes and procedures.

When should a proposal be presented to the NCDRP?

Design Review is held at the pre-development application stage and is encouraged as early as possible in the design process for an individual proposal. The benefits to early design review are outlined in the NCDRP Information booklet.

ACT Government planning jurisdiction

From 1 October 2019, development identified as a prescribed development under the Planning and Development Regulation 2008 must consult with the design review panel before lodging a development application. A prescribed development proposal is a building with five or more storeys.

National Capital Plan

The following development thresholds apply to proposals that must be considered by the NCDRP:

  • Instruments under the National Capital Plan: Development Control Plan 17/01 Manuka Circle Precinct, Canberra Avenue
  • National Capital Plan - Amendment 91 - City and Gateway Urban Design Provisions.

The NCA may refer proposals determined to be of significance within Designated Areas that warrant design review.

Self referral

Design Review is available as a voluntary service for development proposals that are outside of the development thresholds as identified above.

Applying for design review

Applicants for design review are encouraged to contact the NCDRP Secretariat as early as possible to schedule a suitable date and ensure that the panel can provide advice early in the design process. National Capital Design Review sessions are held monthly as per the forward schedule.

The first step is to complete the Design Review Application Form and to email it to designreview@act.gov.au. Once your application form is received it will be processed and you will be contacted to schedule your presentation for design review. The Preparing for Design Review Practitioner’s Guide has been prepared to provide information to guide proponents through the design review panel process.

NCDRP links

  • NCDRP Information booklet
  • Preparing for Design Review, Practitioner’s Guide
  • Planning Principles for the ACT
  • NCDRP Snapshot
  • NCDRP 2019 Forward Schedule
  • Design Review Application Form
  • Project Information Form
  • Drawing Requirements
  • NCDRP Terms of Reference
  • Pre-application information
  • Development Applications
  • More information

    If you want to know more about the National Capital Design Review Panel:

    • Email: designreview@act.gov.au
    • Phone: Access Canberra on 13 22 81 (and ask for the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate's NCDRP Secretariat)

    The ACT Government is committed to improving the accessibility of web content. To provide feedback or request an accessible version of a document please contact us or phone 13 22 81.