Explanatory Statement

The Statement of Planning Principles (the Principles) sets out the principles for giving effect to the object of the National Capital Plan (the Plan) as required by the Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988 (the Act). The object of the Plan is ‘to ensure that Canberra and the Territory are planned and developed in accordance with their national significance’.

The content of Part Two is organised under the themes of:

  • General matters
  • Productivity
  • Sustainability
  • Liveability
  • Accessibility.

Primary objectives are identified for each theme, followed by principles which further detail consideration of these matters to ensure that Canberra and the Territory are planned and developed in accordance with their national significance.

The ordering of the Principles is not intended to convey any notion of relative priority, and each needs to be given due consideration where relevant to a proposal. The Principles provide a framework for the policy content of the Plan and have been considered against matters of national significance. These Principles must be considered in the planning and development of Canberra and the Territory and in policies guiding these matters. The objectives and principles stated in this section are binding on both the Australian and ACT Governments.

2.1 General matters

Objective

Retain the distinct urban form for which Canberra is well known, of a city within bush surrounds.

Principles

  1. The hills, ridges and other major open space which form the separation between towns will be kept largely free of urban development. The planning and development of urban areas will encourage measures through which urban intensification may occur and will be sympathetic to the landscape setting of the National Capital.

2.2 Productivity

Objective one – Infrastructure and employment

Ensure that infrastructure supports the development of Canberra’s National Capital functions.

Principles for Objective one – Infrastructure and employment

  1. Infrastructure must support the effective functioning of Canberra with proper consideration of the environmental and visual impact and be integrated with land use decisions.
  2. Infrastructure must be planned and provided in an integrated and timely manner to facilitate the development of Canberra and the Territory and ensure safety and security of supply and operation.
  3. Energy and water supply and security issues will be given due consideration in the planning and development of any new infrastructure.
  4. The infrastructure of Canberra and the Territory must be planned and provided to:
    • ensure that public utilities infrastructure is available and maintained for Commonwealth and ACT Government needs and activities.
    • minimise the visual impact of electricity and telecommunication facilities, particularly along major vistas, corridors and major open space.
    • give due consideration to energy and water, supply and security issues.
    • ensure safety and security of supply and operation.

Objective two – Infrastructure and employment

Ensure that the location of employment supports the local economy and Canberra’s National Capital role.

Principles for Objective two – Infrastructure and employment

  1. The location of employment in Canberra and the Territory should enhance rather than detract from the city’s role as the National Capital.
  2. Major employment generating land uses will be located within Defined Activity Centres. Major employment location proposals must be determined with regard to their transportation and environmental impacts.

2.3 Sustainability

Objective one – Environmental sustainability and open space

Ensure the development of a city that both respects environmental values and reflects national concerns with the sustainability of Australia’s urban areas.

Principles for Objective one – Environmental sustainability and open space

  1. Urban expansion should be contained so as to minimise impacts on valuable natural and rural areas.
  2. A substantial portion of new development must be located within existing urban areas such as town centres and along public transport routes or other strategic sites that allow for efficient use of infrastructure.
  3. The natural environment of Canberra and the Territory will be protected and improved by reducing resource consumption and waste, improving water security and quality, energy and food security and improving and protecting soil quality.
  4. Ecological communities, threatened flora and fauna species, water catchments and water quality will be protected and supported by sustainable resource management.
  5. Development will respect environmental values including water catchments and water quality and ensure resilience to the impacts of climate change.

Objective two – Environmental sustainability and open space

Protect the nationally significant open-space network, visual backdrop and landscape setting of the National Capital.

Principles for Objective two – Environmental sustainability and open space

  1. The hills, ridges and other major open space will be kept largely free of urban development and will act as a natural backdrop to the National Capital.

2.4 Liveability

Objective one – Urban design and heritage

Enhance and preserve Canberra’s symbolic and unique design and role as the National Capital.

Principles for Objective one – Urban design and heritage

  1. The National Capital role requires that planning and development, in Canberra Central in particular, and generally throughout the Territory, should reflect contemporary thinking in urban design practice.
  2. Planning controls should seek to ensure that development in all forms, including landscaping in urban and non-urban areas, complements and enriches its surroundings.
  3. Substantial works of architecture, engineering and landscape within the Territory should be designed to contribute positively to the overall composition, symbolism and dignity of the National Capital.
  4. Development in the National Capital should seek to achieve harmony between architecture and landscape to give continuing effect to the City Beautiful and Garden City characters of the city.
  5. Within Canberra Central, roads, bridges, waterways and public landscaping projects should reinforce and complement the geometric lines of the Main Avenues.
  6. Vistas to major landscape features must be protected from and enhanced by development.
  7. Buildings in Canberra Central should be of a height generally not greater than the height of the mature tree canopy (typically 3-4 storeys), except where otherwise permitted by the Plan. In Canberra Central no building or structure which protrudes substantially above the tree canopy must exceed a height of RL617.
  8. Opportunities should be encouraged for the enhancement and reinforcement of the physical, symbolic and visual linkages to adjoining areas of the Inner Hills and the Central National Area.
  9. Urban development will be planned in a manner which promotes community vitality and safety, applies the principles of crime prevention through environmental design and recognises the needs of people with disabilities.
  10. New development, including public spaces, should:
    • exemplify sustainability principles
    • demonstrate excellence in urban design, landscape and architecture
    • facilitate pedestrian connectivity and bicycle movements where appropriate
    • encourage energy efficient development and land use.

Objective two – Urban design and heritage

Enhance the character of Canberra and the Territory as the National Capital by identifying, protecting, conserving and presenting natural, Indigenous and historic heritage places..

Principles for Objective two – Urban design and heritage

  1. The National Capital Authority will consider heritage places in Designated Areas as Commonwealth Areas for the purposes of protecting the environment in the manner currently afforded under theEnvironmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) and any subsequent legislation.
  2. Within Designated Areas, the National Capital Authority may require Heritage (or Conservation) Management Plans to accompany development applications for heritage places which should be prepared to meet requirements equivalent to those in the EPBC Act. The National Capital Authority may require Heritage Impact Statements to accompany development applications for a heritage place.
  3. Development should be consistent with the requirements of any relevant Heritage (or Conservation) Management Plan for that particular place.
  4. The management of heritage places should ensure that their use and presentation is consistent with their heritage values. Heritage places will be presented and interpreted to increase public awareness, understanding and enjoyment of the natural and cultural heritage of the National Capital and its conservation, subject to any reasonable requirements for privacy or confidentiality.
  5. The National Capital Authority will adopt the Australian Natural Heritage Charter and the Burra Charter as key guiding documents respectively for natural and cultural heritage places within Designated Areas.

2.5 Accessibility

Objective – Transport and movement

Support a connected and equitable multi-modal transport system.

Principles for transport and movement

  1. Accessible movement systems for a diversity of pedestrian, cycle, public transport and private transport modes will be provided, with good connections between different modes of transport.
  2. An accessible movement system will be achieved by:
    • maintaining the national and arterial road systems
    • supporting efficient and sustainable pedestrian, bicycle and public transport systems that reduce car dependency
    • maintaining movement around the city for a diversity of pedestrian, cycle, public transport and private transport modes
    • providing streets that foster a connected and pedestrian-friendly environment
    • reducing the barriers created by major roads to make it easier for people to access the public spaces of the city, particularly in the Central National Area.