Explanatory Statement

Section 10(2)(b)(i) of the Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988 (the Act) requires the National Capital Plan (the Plan) to set out general policies to be implemented throughout the Territory, being policies of:

  • land use (including the range and nature of permitted land use)
  • the planning of national and arterial road systems.

This part of the Plan sets out general provisions for land use across the whole of the ACT. This includes identifying broad land use categories, as well as specifying permitted land uses and other general development requirements.

The first components of Part Three are the General Policy Plans, which set the broad framework for land use in the Territory, including the general location of town centres and industrial areas. In addition to setting out broad land use arrangements, the General Policy Plans show areas that may be suitable for future urban development, and also indicate the national and arterial road system.

The first section of Part Three describes the main elements that make up the General Policy Plans. General policies, including the range of permitted land use within each land use category, follow this introductory section.


3.1 - General Policy Plans

3.1.1 Broad land use categories

Figure 2 ‘General Policy Plan – Metropolitan Canberra’ and Figure 3 ‘General Policy Plan – Australian Capital Territory’ set the broad framework for land use in the Territory. These general policy plans show which areas are planned for urban development and which areas are not to be developed for urban use. Written policies supporting the general policy plans establish provisions relating to aesthetics and the environment, to protect and enhance the character of Canberra and the Territory.

A wide range of land uses are permitted for each land use category. The use of land for a purpose not included in the specified range may be permitted where the Authority has been consulted and, after satisfying itself that a particular proposal is not inconsistent with relevant principles and policies of the Plan, has given its agreement in writing.

The policies identifying permitted land uses do not confer any rights to use land for any purpose. The range of uses are set out in the Territory Plan or the Precinct Codes for Designated Areas. The statutory requirements for the Territory Plan to not be inconsistent with the Plan permits consideration of any or all, or any sub-category of, the identified uses for inclusion in the Territory Plan.

3.1.2 Potential Future Urban areas

Figure 2 ‘General Policy Plan – Metropolitan Canberra’ shows potential future urban areas at Jerrabomberra–Symonston, in the Majura Valley, in the Belconnen district and in the West Murrumbidgee area. Final resolution of land uses in these areas will be made following the completion of detailed studies.

In the case of Jerrabomberra–Symonston, decisions on the nature, scale and timing of urban development in this area need to be taken in the context of a wider land use policy review. The review will need to consider the need for a buffer zone around major Commonwealth facilities in the area.

This review would also encompass long-term land use and transport relationships and address, from the view point of both the Plan and the Territory Plan, the key issues of traffic flows and transportation infrastructure in the city's inner areas, especially in the Parliamentary Zone and its setting.

The Commonwealth agrees that expansion of urban areas into areas identified as being a potential future urban area may occur without further amendment to the Plan. Prior to expansion of the urban area in these locations, the proponent is required to obtain certification from the National Capital Authority that the proposed changes are not inconsistent with the principles and policies of the Plan.

The National Capital Authority will assess proposals to expand urban areas against:

  • the stated objectives of the Plan
  • matters of national significance
  • the Statement of Planning Principles
  • any other principle or policy of the Plan deemed relevant by the National Capital Authority.

The proponent must obtain certification from the National Capital Authority for such land use proposals prior to commencing the Territory Plan variation process.

The National Capital Authority will make public its decision on such proposals and a statement of reasons supporting the decision.

3.1.3 National and arterial roads

Figure 2 ‘General Policy Plan – Metropolitan Canberra’ sets out the general location of national and arterial roads within the Territory.

For the purposes of the Plan, national roads are deemed to include the major approach routes to the city which link Canberra with other capital cities and with the national highway network. These are the Barton, Federal and Monaro Highways from the Territory border to their eventual junction at State Circle in the vicinity of Parliament House. All roads within the National Triangle are also classed as National Roads.

The arterial road network comprises two elements:

  • arterial roads within urban areas, which are major traffic collectors and distributors
  • the network of peripheral parkways which carry traffic between towns along routes lying largely at the periphery of the built-up areas.

Policies for national and arterial roads

  1. The National and Arterial Roads System will:
    1. generally not provide frontage access to development, except where such access will meet appropriate design standards and road safety needs
    2. generally intersect with the local road network through distributor roads.
  2. The final alignment of proposed arterial roads is subject to consultation with the National Capital

3.1.4 Inter-town Public Transport System

Figure 2 ‘General Policy Plan – Metropolitan Canberra’ sets out the general location of Inter-town public transport corridor within the Territory.

Policies for Inter-town Public Transport System

  1. Public transport planning and provision will:
    1. Reserve a route for the development of a public transport service to link major employment nodes. As far as practicable the service will be segregated from other transport systems and will operate with priority of right-of-way.
    2. A corridor between the city centre, the town centres and major employment nodes, suitable for priority or segregated right-of-way for use by public transport services will be reserved against a possible future need to develop a system of inter town and express routes suitable for buses or other public transit modes as appropriate.

3.1.5 General policies for all land use categories

  1. Aircraft noise under airfield approaches is an unavoidable by-product of flying operations associated with airports. The Australian Noise Exposure Forecast (ANEF) system, expressed by noise contours centred on the airport, is a scientific measure of forecast noise exposure levels based on current and future projections of operational activities in the vicinity of the runway approaches. The system can assist in planning and development decision making. Information about forecast noise exposure in relation to Canberra International Airport can be obtained from the Commonwealth agencies with responsibility for aircraft noise regulation.
  2. Protected airspace provisions in relation to Canberra International Airport apply to development independently of the Plan. To satisfy a requirement of the Airports (Protection of Airspace) Regulations 1996, Canberra International Airport Pty Ltd has prepared a diagram prescribing protected airspace. The diagram is incorporated in the Airport Master Plan prepared under the Airports Act 1996. Detailed information may be obtained from the Commonwealth agency with responsibility for protected airspace.
  3. Within five kilometres of Mount Stromlo, development or installations which may, through night time illumination or significant vibration, adversely affect the operation of the Mount Stromlo Observatory or the associated seismological vault at Mount Stromlo, must be referred to the Australian National University for examination and comment and reasonable steps must be taken to mitigate adverse impacts.
  4. The Commonwealth, a Commonwealth Authority, the Territory or a Territory authority must not do anything which adversely affects the historic landscape and heritage values of the Lanyon Bowl Area.
  5. Forestry (where permitted) must be managed in a manner which reinforces the landscape character and which allows for their use as multiple purpose areas. Native vegetation in plantations should be retained, particularly along plantation edges, public roads and rivers and creeks, to preserve wildlife corridors and habitats.

Subdivision within Designated Areas

  1. Any proposal to subdivide land within Designated Areas will require the approval of the National Capital Authority.

Figure 2 - General Policy Plan (Metropolitan Canberra)

Figure 2: General Policy Plan – Metropolitan Canberra

Figure 3: General Policy Plan – Australian Capital Territory

Figure 3: General Policy Plan – Australian Capital Territory


3.2 National Capital Open Space System

3.2.1 Background

The importance of the natural setting of the National Capital has been recognised by the creation and formal adoption of the concept of the National Capital Open Space System (NCOSS). This system essentially comprises the inner hills and ridges which surround and frame the urban areas, the major lakes and river corridors, and the distant mountains and bushland to the west of the Murrumbidgee River. Closely associated with the NCOSS are the Territory’s rural lands which also contribute significantly to the landscape setting.

There are four different functions performed by the NCOSS, each with its own planning and management requirements.

First, there are symbolic spaces that embody the national importance of the landscape in a diverse cultural environment and the intrinsic connection between the physical setting and continuing legacy of Canberra as a planned city.

Conservation spaces are those that protect, conserve and enhance the natural environment, the heritage and cultural values of the ACT, and which provide for ecological connectivity.

Living spaces are those that provide direct health and wellbeing benefits to the broad range of users in close proximity to urban areas and which afford appropriate movement to people, fauna and flora.

Finally there are linking spaces that physically join and visually unite the city to its immediate setting and to the region. The values contained in these spaces include the spatial and temporal continuity provided to the setting of the National Capital.

Together these open spaces constitute a system which protects the environmental quality of Canberra’s present and future water catchments, river systems, and important ecological and heritage areas from the increasing pressure of Canberra’s growth. While each part has its own land use and character they are all interrelated as parts of a total system. It is important therefore that the system is planned, developed and managed on an integrated basis.

Mount Stromlo Observatory is within NCOSS. It is a nationally and internationally prominent centre for astronomical research. The amount of night sky light pollution suffered at the observatory impacts on the effectiveness of its operation. Two factors have bearing on this:

  • the area of urban development and its proximity to the observatory
  • the nature of the development insofar as it affects the amount of light radiated into the night sky.

The gradual encroachment of urban development into areas previously undeveloped or used for non-urban purposes, has contributed to the deterioration of observing conditions. Because of the observatory’s national significance, a measure of protection is necessary.

The principles and policies that follow establish NCOSS as a multiple-use system which protects the environment while providing for the recreational and other needs of the National Capital.

Planning and management for NCOSS in the interests of both the National Capital and Territory residents will require co-operation between Commonwealth and Territory authorities. The National Capital’s requirements will be specified through its detailed land use policies in those parts of NCOSS which are Designated Areas, and through the general policies of the Plan for other NCOSS areas. The Territory will provide for its requirements through the Territory Plan. Management plans, usually prepared by Territory authorities, will be the key to successful implementation of these policies and plans.

Consistency of planning and management and the realisation of an open space system which symbolises the character of the National Capital and provides a unique landscape for the city must be achieved through consultation and by means of joint studies in those areas where both the National Capital Authority and Territory planning authority have a significant interest.

The NCOSS is incorporated in the Plan under four separate land use categories:

  • Lake Burley Griffin and Foreshores
  • Hills, Ridges and Buffer Spaces
  • River Corridors
  • Mountains and Bushland.

Principles and policies for each of these categories are preceded by the following principle and policies for the NCOSS as a whole. General policies for the Hills, Ridges and Buffer Spaces, River Corridors, and Mountains and Bushland categories follow.

Policies for Lake Burley Griffin and Foreshores are included within the Lake Burley Griffin and Foreshores Precinct Code (refer Part Four of the Plan) as this area forms part of the Designated Areas.

3.2.2 Principle for the National Capital Open Space System

The NCOSS is required to protect the nationally significant open-space framework, visual backdrop and landscape setting for the National Capital. NCOSS will blend city and country in a way that symbolises the character of the National Capital and provides a balanced range of uses which reinforces the natural, cultural, scenic and recreational values of the ACT.

3.2.3 Policies for the National Capital Open Space System

  1. The NCOSS will be planned as an integrated system so as to protect its environmental qualities, to promote a continuum of natural and park-like settings for the National Capital, and to frame and enhance existing and future urban areas.
  2. The natural and cultural resources of the NCOSS must be protected in order to provide educational, cultural and recreational opportunities.
  3. Public utilities and roads will be located in the NCOSS only where technical, environmental and visual assessments clearly demonstrate that the impacts on an area’s conservation and landscape values can be reduced to an acceptable level.
  4. Within Designated Areas of the Plan, all Operational Plans must be prepared in close consultation with the National Capital Authority. Operational Plans may identify future works to be undertaken in parts of the NCOSS within Designated Areas and may serve for the purpose of granting works approval. The National Capital Authority may grant works approval covering a period of 12 months for works identified in an Operational Plan as being low risk and low impact.

3.2.4 Hills, Ridges and Buffer Spaces

3.2.4.1 Background

The hill areas do not attract the same intensity of use as the lakes and rivers of the NCOSS but they play a greater role in satisfying the landscape function of NCOSS. It is therefore critical that the hill areas be preserved from urban development and their essential landscape/environmental character retained and reinforced to provide the unified background and landscape setting for the National Capital.

It is not intended that the hills and ridges serve only as public open space. They are intended for multiple-use appropriate to the location and character of each hill area. They will be used as vantage points from which people can view the city and to provide a quiet refuge from urban living. They will also serve as wildlife and access corridors linking urban areas with other parts of the Territory’s open space system. Their continued use for recreation, tourism and appropriate urban services must be in a manner consistent with maintenance of their environmental qualities.

The Inner Hills

The areas identified in Figure 4, Figure 5, Figure 6 and Figure 7 are specified as a Designated Area and will be known as the Inner Hills. The Inner Hills includes Black Mountain, Mount Ainslie, Mount Majura, Mount Pleasant, Russell Hill, Red Hill, Mount Mugga, O’Connor Ridge, Bruce Ridge, Mount Painter, The Pinnacle, Lyneham Ridge, Oakey Hill, Mount Taylor, Isaacs Ridge, Mount Stromlo, Mount Arawang, Neighbour Hill, Wanniassa Hill, and Narrabundah Hill.

The Inner Hills provide the scenic backdrop and natural setting for Canberra’s urban areas, and within Canberra Central they are integral to the Griffins’ composition. Accordingly their planning, design and development as open space areas are central to the maintenance and enhancement of the character of the National Capital. Including these areas within Designated Areas is the most appropriate way of securing this.

Figure 4: Inner Hills – North Canberra (east)

Figure 4: Inner Hills – North Canberra (east)

Figure 5: Inner Hills – North Canberra (west)

Figure 5: Inner Hills – North Canberra (west)

Figure 6: Inner Hills – South Canberra (west)

Figure 6: Inner Hills – South Canberra (west)

Figure 7: Inner Hills – South Canberra (east)

Figure 7: Inner Hills – South Canberra (east)


3.2.4.2 Principle for Hills, Ridges and Buffer Spaces

Hills, ridges and buffer spaces are to remain substantially undeveloped in order to protect the symbolic role and Australian landscape character of the hills and ridges as the scenic backdrop to the Parliamentary Zone, the City Centre and other National Capital precincts, to maintain the visual definition and physical containment of the surrounding towns and to ensure that their landscape, environmental and recreation values become an integral part of the National Capital.

3.2.4.3 Policies for Hills, Ridges and Buffer Spaces

  1. The Inner Hills will be protected as key symbolic and landscape elements in the Plan expressing the defined land, water and municipal axes and providing the dominant backdrop feature to the city.
  2. The hills and ridges must be planned and managed as a multiple-use recreation and environmental system with different parts having their own special character and use.
  3. The hill tops will continue to be used as key vantage points for viewing and understanding the National Capital. Development will be sited so as to minimise its visual impact on the Central National Area and any environmental impact on the hill tops.
  4. The environment and Australian landscape character of the hills and ridges will be protected and enhanced to provide a unified landscape setting for the National Capital.
  5. The rural landscape in the areas adjacent to the ACT border between Hall and the Murrumbidgee River and along the Barton Highway will be retained as an intrinsic part of the National Capital character and with additional landscape treatment provide physical containment to this part of Belconnen and a buffer between Belconnen and Gungahlin.
  6. Black Mountain, Mt Taylor, Tuggeranong Hill and Isaacs Ridge will continue to provide locations for current telecommunications facilities

3.2.4.4 Permitted land uses within Hills, Ridges and Buffer Spaces

  1. The range of uses permitted in the Hills, Ridges and Buffer Spaces part of the NCOSS is as follows:
    • Aquatic Recreation Facility (Stromlo Forest Park only)
    • Agriculture
    • Extractive Industry (Mugga Quarry only)
    • Forestry (Green Hills, Tuggeranong, Ingledene, Stromlo and Fairbairn pine plantation and woodlots only)
    • General Farming
    • Indoor Recreation Facility (Stromlo Forest Park only)
    • Landscape Buffer
    • Nature Conservation Area
    • Open Space
    • Outdoor Education Establishment
    • Outdoor Recreation Facility (not including stadiums, showgrounds, racecourses, motor racing and like activities)
    • Park
    • Pathway Corridor
    • Public Utility
    • Road
    • Scientific Research Establishment
    • Tourist Centre (Gold Creek and Gilmore only)
    • Overnight Camping (Stromlo Forest Park and Elm Grove campsite only)
    • Tourist Facility (Stromlo Forest Park only)

and may include Dwelling, if necessary, for the operation of any of these uses.

The nature of uses permitted in the Hills, Ridges and Buffer Spaces part of the NCOSS is defined in Appendix A.

3.2.5 River Corridors

3.2.5.1 Background

The corridors of the Murrumbidgee and Molonglo Rivers define zones for which the primary aim is to reinforce and preserve their landscape and heritage values and their ecological continuity, while providing for a balanced range of recreational and tourist related uses.

Policies for the river corridors recognise that recreation is the key land use, and conservation of its natural and cultural values is the primary goal.

3.2.5.2 Principle for River Corridors

Protect and enhance the environmental quality, landscape setting and the natural and cultural resources of the Murrumbidgee and Molonglo River Corridors. The Murrumbidgee River Corridor is to be conserved as an important national resource and a key open space element which provides a definable edge to the developed urban areas.

3.2.5.3 Policies for River Corridors

  1. Corridors for the major rivers in the ACT will be protected from urban encroachment and inappropriate development.
  2. The ecological resources and environmental quality of the rivers should be conserved and the character of their landscape retained and reinforced.
  3. The streamflow and water quality of the rivers must be protected from adverse external influences and maintained in a manner which ensures compatibility between land uses, water uses and the environmental character of the rivers.
  4. The River Corridors must primarily provide a balanced range of recreational activities appropriate to the characteristics of the river and adjacent land and in a manner that reinforces and protects them as unified systems.
  5. Built facilities for use of the Murrumbidgee River and Molonglo River Corridors must provide for access at levels consistent with the protection of their natural and cultural resources, and primarily be located at development nodes.
  6. Cultural heritage resources and their landscape context will be protected from inappropriate uses and development. Lanyon must be maintained as an important cultural resource providing for public access and use consistent with its national significance.
  7. Extraction of sand and gravel may be considered in order to maintain stream channel and flood plain stability or to protect aquatic habitats and recreation areas and to control flooding. Extraction is to be undertaken in a manner consistent with protection of downstream land and water uses and in accordance with relevant environment protection legislation and with an agreed management and restoration plan.
  8. Development may be limited by constraints related to the Tidbinbilla Deep Space Communication Complex. For details refer to Policies for Rural Areas

3.2.5.4 Permitted land uses within River Corridors

  1. The range of uses permitted in the River Corridors part of the NCOSS is as follows:
    • Agriculture
    • Forestry (Ingledene, Kowen, Stromlo and Uriarra pine plantations and woodlots only)
    • General Farming
    • Intensive Farming
    • Nature Conservation Area
    • Overnight Camping
    • Park
    • Public Utility
    • Recreation
    • Road
    • Special Development

and may include Dwelling, if necessary, for the operation of any of these uses.

The nature of uses permitted in the River Corridors part of the NCOSS is defined in Appendix A.

3.2.6 Mountains and Bushland

3.2.6.1 Background

The Bullen Range, together with the mountain ridges of the Tidbinbilla and Brindabella Ranges provide the middle and distant landscape backdrop to the National Capital. A major feature of the Territory is Namadgi National Park. Namadgi National Park forms part of the regional system of alpine parks of south-east Australia (the Australian Alps National Parks) and provides a secure, long-term semi-wilderness backdrop to the National Capital, and one which increasingly will become nationally and internationally known as a feature of the city.

In the Tidbinbilla/Paddy’s River area there are development opportunities which take advantage of its location on tourist routes and its proximity to Canberra. The area’s diverse natural, cultural and rural resources can provide a rich setting for additional tourist uses, and there is scope for the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve to continue to develop as a major Australian fauna display on the doorstep of the National Capital

3.2.6.2 Principle for Mountains and Bushland

The Mountains and Bushland area is to be maintained as an important visual background to the National Capital; to protect both its nature conservation values, and Canberra’s existing and future water supply, and to develop appropriate National Capital and tourist uses, particularly in the Tidbinbilla/Paddy’s River area.

3.2.6.3 Policies for Mountains and Bushland

  1. The water resource, nature conservation, cultural and wilderness values of Namadgi National Park are to be maintained and protected for public appreciation, research, education, natural resource based recreation, and water supply to the National Capital.
  2. The Cotter and Gudgenby catchments should be managed to protect the water supply to the National Capital in a manner consistent with their nature conservation values. The quality of water supply in the Cotter catchment is to be assured primarily by controls over catchment uses.
  3. The area comprising Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, Bullen Range, Paddy’s River, and Gibraltar Creek should be used for appropriate National Capital and tourist uses consistent with protection of the area’s natural, cultural and rural resources. This area should be protected and used as an important transition and open space system linking urban Canberra and the remote mountain and bushland area.
  4. The North Cotter area should be planned and managed in a manner consistent with Namadgi National Park in terms of protection for nature conservation and water supply requirements, with the additional potential of use for low to medium intensity recreation.
  5. The Tennant area should be planned and managed to protect its long term use as the location for an additional water supply reservoir for the National Capital. Interim use for rural and nature conservation purposes is to be permitted with steeper slopes progressively revegetated to protect and enhance the area’s future role as a water supply catchment.
  6. Urban development may be limited by constraints related to the Tidbinbilla Deep Space Communication Complex. For details refer to Policies for Rural Areas.

3.2.6.4 Permitted land uses in Mountains and Bushland

  1. The range of uses permitted in the Mountains and Bushland part of the NCOSS is as follows:
    • Agriculture
    • Educational Establishment
    • Forestry (Pierce’s Creek, Uriarra, Tidbinbilla, Ingledene and Gibralter Valley pine plantations and woodlots only)
    • General Farming
    • Intensive Farming (not in Namadgi National Park or the Cotter catchment)
    • Nature Conservation Area
    • Overnight Camping
    • Public Utility
    • Recreation
    • Road
    • Scientific Research Establishment
    • Tourist Facility
    • Wilderness Area

and may include Dwelling, if necessary, for the operation of any of these uses.

The nature of uses permitted in the Mountains and Bushland part of the NCOSS is defined in Appendix A.


3.3 Urban Areas

3.3.1 Background

Urban land in the Territory should be organised as a series of distinct and relatively self-contained towns separated from adjacent towns by hills, ridges and other major open spaces. The Plan provides for the continuation of urban development in the ACT as separate and distinct towns set in broad landscaped valleys, with the immediate hills, ridges and other major open space providing separation between towns and the distant mountains providing a natural landscape backdrop.

For the foreseeable future, urban land in Metropolitan Canberra will comprise:

  • the towns of Canberra Central, Woden/Weston Creek, Belconnen, Tuggeranong and Gungahlin
  • the villages of Hall, Oaks Estate and Tharwa
  • Molonglo and North Weston
  • land at Hume, Mitchell and Fyshwick.

Areas identified as ‘Potential Future Urban Areas’ will form part of Metropolitan Canberra following certification by the National Capital Authority of these areas for urban use.

One of the key principles of Canberra’s urban structure has been that a hierarchy of centres has been developed, with each town having a centre acting as a focal point for higher order retail functions, commercial services, offices and community facilities.

This hierarchical principle, at the metropolitan level, means that:

  • Canberra Central continues to be the main location of office employment
  • City is to be encouraged to develop as the most specialised retail, commercial, cultural, entertainment and tourist centre
  • town centres provide retail, commercial, cultural, entertainment and other facilities to meet community needs, and serve also as locations for office-based employment.

Each town should have a town centre. The Territory Plan will provide for a range of lower order centres to meet the varying needs of residents.

Centres at each level in the hierarchy form the focus of a range of retail, commercial and community facilities and services, in which specialisation increases at successively higher levels.

Continued expansion of services and facilities should be provided for and encouraged in each of the town centres.

Canberra’s secondary and service industries have been accommodated in industrial estates at Fyshwick, Mitchell, Hume and Bruce and in the area immediately west of Oaks Estate. The location of industry within estates, the placement of these estates where they contribute to overall transport efficiency, and the avoidance of haphazard industrial location throughout the Urban Areas, have contributed to the structure and character of Canberra’s development. The National Capital Authority supports the development of further industrial estates as a means of increasing the industrial base of Canberra’s economy, and in doing so provide a greater diversity of employment opportunities.

3.3.2 Principles for Urban Areas

  1. Canberra’s future growth is to be accommodated by continuing the development of distinct and relatively self-contained towns.
  2. A hierarchy of centres will be maintained, with each town having a centre acting as a focal point for higher order retail functions, commercial services, offices and community facilities.
  3. Industrial estates will continue to be located on the edge of the Urban Areas and have good accessibility to the national highway network for long-distance freight movements.

3.3.3 Policies for Urban Areas

  1. The urban area of Canberra will comprise:
    • the towns of Canberra Central, Woden/Weston Creek, Belconnen, Tuggeranong and Gungahlin
    • the villages of Hall, Oaks Estate and Tharwa
    • Molonglo and North Weston
    • land at Hume, Mitchell and Fyshwick.
  2. ‘Potential Future Urban Areas’ will be considered as urban areas following certification by the National Capital Authority of these areas for urban use.
  3. The planning of urban areas should seek to introduce measures through which urban consolidation may occur.
  4. The hills, ridges and other major open space will form the separation between towns and will be kept largely free of urban development, to act as a backdrop and setting for the city.
  5. Except where the boundaries are aligned with an existing leasehold, the detailed planning of urban development by the Territory planning authority will determine the boundary between Urban Areas and other land use categories. Before detailed plans are approved, certification must be obtained from the National Capital Authority that the proposals are not inconsistent with the Plan.
  6. Any areas potentially affected by Scrivener Dam flood inundation may only be developed where it is demonstrated that Scrivener Dam meets flood safety and operational requirements, based on the applicable Australian National Committee on Large Dams (ANCOLD) guidelines.
  7. Planning of urban areas in Molonglo should make provision for a distinct, accessible and legible link, of a minimum width of 70 metres between Stromlo Forest Park and the National Arboretum Canberra

3.3.4 Permitted land uses in Urban Areas

  1. The range and nature of uses permitted in Urban Areas includes those uses compatible with residential, commercial, community, cultural, recreational and industrial activity, other than uses not permitted in the Territory Plan. In particular, however, the range of permitted uses includes:
    • Parliamentary Use, National Capital Use and Diplomatic Missions, within Designated Areas
    • other Commonwealth purposes, on National Land.


3.5 Employment location

3.5.1 Background

One of the key principles of Canberra’s urban structure has been that a hierarchy of centres has been developed, with each town having a centre acting as a focal point for higher order retail functions, commercial services, offices and community facilities.

This hierarchical principle, at the metropolitan level, means that:

  • Canberra Central continues to be the main location of office employment
  • City is to be encouraged to develop as the most specialised retail, commercial, cultural, entertainment and tourist centre
  • town centres provide retail, commercial, cultural, entertainment and other facilities to meet community needs, and serve also as locations for office-based employment.

Consideration of employment location should have regard to objectives that are of importance to the quality and significance of the National Capital. These are to:

  • avoid deterioration of the environmental and visual quality of the Central National Area of Canberra
  • maintain the option of further employment in the Town Centres
  • preserve the setting and significance of the Central National Area as a location for major national institutions
  • ensure the dominant role of the City Centre (City) is maintained in the hierarchy of centres.

For these reasons the National Capital Authority’s principles and policies with respect to employment location are as follows.

3.5.2 Principles for employment location

  1. The location of employment in Canberra and the Territory should enhance rather than detract from the city’s role as the National Capital. Major employment location proposals must be determined with regard to their transportation and environmental impacts.
  2. Centres at each level in the hierarchy form the focus of a range of retail, commercial and community facilities and services, in which specialisation increases at successively higher levels.
  3. Continued expansion of services and facilities should be provided for and encouraged in each of the town centres.
  4. Each town should have a town centre. The Territory Plan will provide for a range of lower order centres to meet the varying needs of residents.

3.5.3 Policies for employment location

  1. Major employment generating land uses should be located with the Defined Activity Centres as indicated in Figure 8 and listed below:
    • Barton and Forrest
    • Belconnen Town Centre
    • Bruce
    • City
    • Canberra International Airport
    • Fyshwick industrial area
    • Gungahlin Town Centre
    • Hume industrial area
    • Mitchell industrial area
    • Parkes
    • Russell
    • Tuggeranong Town Centre
    • West Deakin
    • Woden Town Centre.
  2. Any new major employment generating land uses should consider the transportation and environmental impacts of the location.
  3. Public sector office employment should be encouraged to locate in the City Centre and the Town Centres.
  4. Industrial development should be located in the main industrial areas of Fyshwick, Mitchell and Hume and in the Fern Hill Technology Park at Bruce. The National Capital Authority will co-operate with the Territory planning authority to investigate and define appropriate areas for new industrial development.

Figure 8: Defined Activity Centres

Figure 8: Defined Activity Centres


3.6 Broadacre Areas

3.6.1 Background

Beyond the Urban Areas are areas of land set aside for broadacre uses. Subject to the outcome of detailed study and the qualifications detailed below, these areas may offer the opportunity for future urban development. Some broadacre areas may be suitable for the siting of industry, transport facilities, defence installations, institutions and other activities requiring large sites. They may become of considerable economic importance to Canberra over time, and offer a basis for the further economic development of the city in a manner complementary to its function as the National Capital.

3.6.2 Principle for Broadacre Areas

Broadacre Areas may act as buffers between towns, provide sites for uses which require large land areas or may benefit from or be best located within a non-urban setting, and provide a land bank for future Urban Areas.

3.6.3 Policies for Broadacre Areas

  1. Building, site and landscape development must be sympathetic to and not be discordant with the landscape setting of the National Capital.
  2. All proposals for development within two kilometres of HMAS Harman must be referred to the Department of Defence for examination and comment and such comment must be taken into account in arriving at a decision.

3.6.3 Permitted land uses in Broadacre Areas

  1. The range of uses permitted in Broadacre Areas is as follows:
    • Administrative and Utility Services
    • Agriculture
    • Animal Care Facility
    • Airport (Canberra International Airport only)
    • Caravan Park/Camping Ground
    • Community Facility
    • Education and Office establishments used by the Department of Defence
    • Forestry (Majura and Kowen plantations only)
    • General Farming
    • Intensive Farming
    • Landscape Buffer
    • Open Space
    • Outdoor Recreation Facility
    • Park
    • Retail Plant Nursery
    • Scientific Research Establishment
    • Tourist Facility
    • Transport Facility, including Road and Rail
    • Mobile Home Park (Blocks 6 & 8 Section 97 and Block 17 Section 102 Symonston only).

and may include Dwelling, if necessary, for the operation of any of these uses.

The nature of uses permitted in Broadacre Areas is defined in Appendix A.


3.7 Rural Areas

3.7.1 Background

Much of the ACT’s rural land has the potential to support agriculture on a long term sustainable basis and this should be supported in leasing and other arrangements. However, some provision will be necessary for future National Capital and Territory needs but these should be planned for and located so that rural activities can be continued and the distinctive rural landscape character of each area retained.

These rural lands, and the wider NCOSS, provide a unique and dramatic setting for Australia’s capital city, one which increasingly marks this city as internationally distinct and at the same time one of Australia’s most significant achievements.

The ACT contains a number of national communication installations which, to operate efficiently, require protection from the effects of urban settlement and associated development.

The Commonwealth has obligations to protect tracking stations from any electrical or other interference from urban settlement, power transmission lines, radio transmitters or electrical, scientific, medical and industrial equipment. The Tidbinbilla Deep Space Communication Complex will be protected.

3.7.2 Principle for Rural Areas

The rural areas of the ACT should be retained and utilised on a sustainable yield basis whilst providing a distinctive rural landscape setting for the National Capital.

3.7.3 Policies for Rural Areas

  1. Land uses or developments should not significantly diminish National Capital landscape values. Rural holdings must not be subdivided into units which cannot support long term economic farming or agriculture, or which create small units primarily used for residential purposes, except where agreed by the National Capital
  2. On rural lands soils should be conserved and natural tree cover enhanced in order to protect both the resources and the landscape setting of the National Capital.
  3. Urban development near Tidbinbilla Deep Space Communication Complex is limited by the following zone constraints (refer Figure 9):
    • Zone ‘A’ – no development is permitted within a 1.25 kilometre radius from the centre of the complex
    • Zone ‘B’ – no industrial development is permitted within a three kilometre radius of the centre
    • Zone ‘C’ – an arc from the north-west to the south-west which is modified by the terrain.

Figure 9: Tidbinbilla Deep Space Communication Complex zone constraints

Figure 9: Tidbinbilla Deep Space Communication Complex zone constraints


3.7.4 Permitted land uses in Rural Areas

  1. The range of uses permitted in Rural Areas is as follows:
    • Agriculture
    • Forestry (Kowen and Pierce’s Creek pine plantations only)
    • General Farming
    • Intensive Farming
    • Landscape Buffer
    • Outdoor Recreation Facility
    • Overnight Camping
    • Park
    • Public Utility
    • Road
    • Scientific Research Establishment

and may include Dwelling, if necessary, for the operation of any of these uses.

The nature of uses permitted in Rural Areas is defined at Appendix A.