Zones and overlays


The Territory Plan uses zones to specify the planning controls for a particular area or block of land. These zones determine how the land can be used and what can be built.

There are 23 different zones which are divided into seven main groups:


Overlays apply to areas that have special controls in place; for example, public land reserves, future urban areas, or areas with special requirements under the National Capital Plan (NCP). They inform the user that additional provisions apply, for instance, plans of management for public land areas or NCP requirements.

Objectives and development tables for each zone

Each zone of the Territory Plan has a development table which contains the zone objectives and, among other things, a list of permissible (subject to a development application) and prohibited development within that zone.

The objectives of each zone are derived from the Territory Plan's statement of strategic directions. They set out the purpose for the zone and broadly determine which uses are suitable or prohibited and provisions that regulate development.

The development table outlines:

Assessment tracks

Code track

Code track applies to simpler developments that meet all the relevant rules in the Territory Plan. With the increase in development types that can now be considered exempt, there are few developments that are currently considered in this track.

Merit track

Developments in the merit track are proposals which do not meet all of the rules of the code, sometimes because of site constraints, innovative design or simply because a criteria has no associated rule to meet. Merit Track applications take around 30 to 45 days to assess, have a period of public consultation and can be approved, approved with conditions or refused. Most minor applications, such as residential developments are in the merit track.

Impact track

Developments are placed in the impact track either because: the Act states they are ‘major’ in scope or impact under schedule 4 of the Act; the development table specifies them as impact track; or they are not mentioned as a merit track use or prohibited use within the relevant zone development table. Impact track applications require an Environmental Impact Statement to accompany them which outlines their impacts to the natural and urban environment. These applications often take longer to assess due to their complexity and can include things like the construction of a major road or airport.

For more information about assessment tracks refer to the Which track will my DA be assessed in section.