As a part of Our New System, regional planning covers three key aspects: Planning Regions, Regional Plans and Joint Planning Arrangements.
The new Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 provides for South Australia to be divided into Planning Regions by the Governor, with one region designated as Greater Adelaide. This allows regional areas to be clearly defined so collaborative arrangements can be established for planning.
It is expected that all of the planning regions will be based upon the existing South Australia Government Regions, although adjustment to align with other service delivery boundaries will be considered. The Minister may also establish subregions within the broader planning regions.
The State Planning Commission will prepare a regional plan for each designated planning region. If a Joint Planning Board has been constituted, the Regional Plan will be prepared in partnership with them.
Regional Plans will play a similar role to spatial volumes of the Planning Strategy under the current Act, with the new option of linking directly through to zoning changes. As with State Planning Policies, they are not to be taken into account for the purpose of any assessment decision or application, other than where an environmental impact statement is required.
Regional Plans may be divided into parts relating to subregions and may include structure plans, master plans, concept plans or other similar documents.
The new Act allows groups of councils to enter into Planning Agreements with the Minister. A planning agreement is a long-term arrangement that allows for planning functions to be delegated to regional groupings of councils, subject to agreed performance measures and targets. Where relevant, other entities may be party to an agreement.
Each Planning Agreement is to be delivered by establishing a Joint Planning Board (with between three and seven members) to perform agreed functions (for example, regional planning or assessment). The process of establishing a board has been flexibly designed to allow for parties to determine the arrangements that suit them best.
In addition to allowing for planning powers to be delegated to Joint Planning Boards, Planning Agreements may also include others matters that may be agreed on by other Ministers (e.g. regional development or natural resource management).
A total of eight separate groups of councils (some 40 councils) lodged an Expression of Interest in forming a Joint Planning Board, representing more than half of the councils in the State.
Following a public tender process, a Project Coordinator has been engaged to assist those eight groups of councils to prepare a business case for Joint Planning Arrangements. The project, through collaboration with these councils, will develop a framework and tool-kit for councils/interested parties to assist in preparing their submissions to establish a Joint Planning Board. ‘Seed funding’ from the Department is proposed to assist with this process.
The project will begin in July 2017 and is expected to run to at least the end of this year. Interested council groups will then be able to complete their business cases and present their Planning Agreements to the State Planning Commission for consideration.
Work will also commence with councils on their strategic planning frameworks that will underpin the ongoing development of the Planning and Design Code.