Effect of the Approved Plan

This plan takes effect on publication of the notice of approval in the Commonwealth Gazette by the Commonwealth Minister for the Arts, Tourism and Territories.

Upon such notice Section 11 of the Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988 takes effect. Section 11(2) of the Act states that 'the Commonwealth, a Commonwealth Authority, the Territory or a Territory Authority shall not do any act that is inconsistent with the Plan.'

Following approval of the Plan by the Minister any works in Designated Areas are to be subject to the Plan and to the approval of the National Capital Planning Authority. The Act defines works as including:

  1. 'the construction, alteration or extension of buildings or structures;
  2. landscaping;
  3. tree-felling; or
  4. excavations;

but excludes anything done inside buildings or structures.'

Relationship to the Territory Plan

The Act requires the ACT Legislative Assembly to make laws to establish a Territory planning authority and confer functions on that authority to prepare and administer a plan in respect of all land other than Designated Areas, in a manner not inconsistent with the National Capital Plan.

The Territory planning authority will therefore be responsible for approving development in all areas of the Territory other than Designated Areas. In the case of areas where special requirements have been set out in the National Capital Plan, the Territory planning authority will be responsible for approving development providing that the proposal is not inconsistent with the requirements as specified in the Plan.

The National Capital Plan therefore provides a framework within which the Territory Plan can be prepared. Section 25(2) of the Act states that the object of the Territory Plan is

'to ensure, in a manner not inconsistent with the National Capital Plan, the planning of the Territory to provide the people of the Territory with an attractive, safe and efficient environment in which to live, work and have their recreation.'

The National Capital Plan has set out the general policies of land use and the planning of national and arterial road systems, to be implemented throughout the Territory. The Territory Plan will provide more detailed planning controls within the context of these general policies.

Development and Management of National Land

Section 27(1) of the Act provides that the Minister may, by notice published in the Commonwealth Gazette, declare specified areas in the Territory to be National Land. However the Minister shall not declare an area to be National Land unless the land is, or is intended to be, used by or on behalf of the Commonwealth [Section 27(2)].

The Act provides at Section 11(2) that

'The Commonwealth, a Commonwealth authority, the Territory or a Territory authority shall not do any act that is inconsistent with the Plan.'

Except within Designated Areas and areas subject to Special Requirements, the National Capital Plan is necessarily general and provides little effective control over the Commonwealth's operations.

Given the significant presence of Commonwealth Departments and authorities in the Territory and the extent of their National Land holdings, it is appropriate that procedures be established to assess Commonwealth development proposals and that the provisions of both the National Capital and Territory Plans be observed. Accordingly the National Capital Plan:

  • includes large National Land sites within Designated Areas where it is considered that they have the special characteristics of the National Capital to satisfy the requirements of Section 10(1) of the Act
  • contains Special Requirements for Development Control Plans to be prepared and agreed by the Authority in respect of the remaining National Land sites which are not included within Designated Areas. Amongst other requirements, the Development Control Plans are to reflect relevant provisions of the Territory Plan
  • requires that proposals to develop, subdivide or lease National Land shall be referred to the Authority who will assess consistency with the provisions of the National Capital Plan.

Review Process for Aspects of the Plan

The approved Plan should not be regarded as a one-off end state, static document. The Plan should be seen as the first National Capital Plan and as the start of a dynamic and evolving process. Section 6(b) of the Act requires the Authority

'to keep the Plan under constant review and to propose amendments to it when necessary.'

The process of amendment as stipulated in the Act follows the same process as set out for the Plan itself. Consequently any proposed amendment is in the first case to be released as a draft for public comment, and also to be referred to the Territory planning authority for consultation.

The draft amendment is ultimately to be referred to the Minister for approval, together with a written report on the consultations that have been carried out. Following Ministerial approval, the amendment has effect when the notice of approval is published in the Commonwealth Gazette. Parliament may subsequently disallow all or part of the amendments.