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Practitioner's Guide to Preparing Development Plan Amendments

Welcome to the Planning Practitioners Guide to Preparing Development Plan Amendments.

Development Plans are key statutory documents in the South Australian planning and development system. Sections 23 to 31A of the Development Act 1993 outlines the purpose of Development Plans and the processes by which they can be amended.

The following information is provided to assist practitioners when initiating a Development Plan Amendment.


DPA Coordinator Assistance

For assistance in relation to packaging and submitting Development Plan Amendments, or for the Contact List for Government Departments and Other Organisations, please contact the Department's DPA Coordinator

DPA Mapping Coordinator Assistance

For all mapping requests associated with Development Plans and amendments, direct your enquiries to:

Email: or by phone on 7109 7035.



Ministerial Policies

Reference information

Reports to council




The Practitioner's Guide to Preparing Development Plan Amendments (PDF, 687 KB) takes practitioners through the seven stages of a DPA process from the idea stage through to its approval by the Minister.

To assist councils in undertaking a DPA, templates and guides to their use have been prepared to ensure that the correct documentation is submitted to the Minister.

A Supplementary Practitioner's Guide to Preparing Heritage Development Plan Amendments (PDF, 1469 KB) has been prepared to assist councils in the preparation of Local Heritage DPAs.

The following additional key resources also supplement the preparation of a DPA.

Mapping Anomalies

Zone, policy area and precinct boundary mapping anomalies may exist in the Development Plan. A statutory/legal mapping requirement within a development plan, is that all zone, policy area and precinct boundaries align with DCDB (Digital Cadastral Data Base), or the centreline of road reserves, or are tied to DCDB boundaries with survey definition. Over time, as a result of boundary resurveys and subdivisions, DCDB boundaries are repositioned by DPTI.  Consequently, outdated DCDB may exist within a development plan, and in turn, introduce anomalies. For further information refer to Mapping Requirements on this page.

Section 29 Corrections

The Practitioner's Guide - Correcting errors in Development Plans using section 29 of the Development Act 1993 (PDF, 839 KB) has been prepared to advise councils of the processes available to the Minister to correct errors in Development Plans under section 29(2)(b)(ii) of the Act. The process is commonly known as a ‘section 29 correction’. A template is provided at the end of the Guide which councils can use to request a section 29 correction from the Minister.

Key Resources

Each stage of the DPA process has mapping requirements which update Development Plan maps affected by the rezoning process. Information is provided relating to format, style and structure of proposed mapping.

Rectifying Mapping Anomalies

Zone, policy area and precinct boundary mapping anomalies may exist in a Development Plan.

A statutory/legal mapping requirement within a development plan, is that  all zone, policy area and precinct boundaries align with DCDB (Digital Cadastral Data Base), or the centreline of road reserves, or are tied to DCDB boundaries with survey definition.

The currency of DCDB within development plans will be the date of consolidation. Over time, as a result of boundary resurveys and subdivisions, DCDB boundaries are repositioned by the department. Consequently, outdated DCDB will exist within a development plan, and in turn, introduce anomalies. Anomalies should be identified and addressed at the time of a  development plan amendment.

Zone, policy area, precinct boundaries should be repositioned or redefined, to align with updated DCDB.

DPTI identify and address anomalies at the time of Ministerial Development Plan Amendments, councils should identify and address anomalies at the time of council development plan amendments.


Once a Statement of Intent has been agreed to, councils and/or their consultants must liaise with the department to discuss their mapping requirements. When preparing DPAs containing mapping amendments, councils are required to obtain electronic copies of all the affected maps and or figures from the Department. This will ensure that all mapping is amended based on current map bases contained in the Development Plan map library administered by the department. Please refer to the ‘Technical User Guide for the production of Development Plan Mapping' for further information on mapping requirements. (Please contact the department for a copy of the guide).

Note: This guide is likely to be updated to meet BDP requirements.


Draft mapping (for consultation) for all DPAs must be prepared in digital (Adobe Illustrator) and high resolution hard copy format. This ensures that the public and government agencies are able to review and comment on high quality, accurate mapping. Electronic copies of proposed map amendments are required to be assessed by the department and will be recorded within its map library.

A list of drafting consultants is available from the department.

Consultants and councils will be required to sign a declaration form ensuring the exclusive use of DCDB base information for Development Plan mapping only. The declaration form is available from the department.


Before finalising a DPA for approval, council must submit a final copy of the draft mapping to the department for final comments. Mapping must be prepared to final approval standard and be submitted in both digital (Adobe Illustrator) and printed (high resolution hard copy) format. This is necessary to ensure that all mapping is to a standard for incorporation into the map library.

Once the final mapping has been endorsed, council should then ensure that map and plan references in the text of the DPA correlate with the final map set.

Please Note: Unacceptable maps/figures will be returned for redrafting.

Mapping format

Generally, all mapping (excluding figures) is located after the main body of the text within a Development Plan.

Maps are to be produced digitally:

  • using Adobe Illustrator (for consistency and efficiency)
  • on either PC or Apple Macintosh Platforms
  • at A4 size
  • in black and white only.

The department will provide templates to assist in the production of Development Plan mapping incorporating the use of a range of:

  • stipples
  • line weights
  • font styles etc.

The templates are available from the department. The department will also provide base mapping (dcdb, zoning and existing map versions) to assist in the production of Development Plan mapping. This will be supplied on zip disc, floppy discs or cd rom.

Mapping in the Development Plans can be grouped into two distinct categories:

  • Illustrative mapping; (figures, Diagrams and Structure Plans)
  • Zone, Policy Area and Precinct Mapping.

Illustrative mapping

Illustrative mapping comprises the following types and is incorporated in the following order.

  • Preface maps
  • Diagrams, figures and illustrations
  • Structure plan overlays and enlargements

Examples are contained in ‘Technical User Guide for the production of Development Plan Mapping'.

Preface maps

The department takes responsibility for production of these maps.

Diagrams, figures and illustrations

These are located immediately after the initial reference to the figure.

Councils are responsible for production of these maps and illustrations. Should a DPA amend a figure which has not been electronically drawn, council will be required to digitally re-draw such figures.

Figures and concept plans cover a zone or a discrete part of a zone and may show features such as spatial allocation of land uses, staging of development, pedestrian links, access points, parking areas and landscaped areas in a conceptual format.

A digital A4 template is available from the department and should be used as the basis of all new mapping.

All figures must be identified by the zone notation followed by the figure's number in the zone ie the second figure to appear in a District Centre Zone will be called, Figure DCe/2.

All graphics (diagrams and illustrations) should be clear and legible. Hand written notations are not acceptable. Notations should therefore be in Universe/Helvetica font style to be consistent with the Development Plan text.

Whole of Development Plan Area map

The department takes responsibility for production of this map.

Structure plan overlays and enlargements

Structure Plans, any subsequent Overlays or Enlargements or Overlays are usually numbered MAP/1 (Overlay 1) with Enlargements A, B, C.

Structure plans show the whole of the Development Plan area.

Larger Development Plan areas may be divided into parts so as to maintain readability.

Enlargements may display: an area or town, or the environs of a town.

Structure plans represent layers of information. The first layer (overlay 1) illustrates the broad location of development through generic grouping of zones, eg all residential zones illustrated as ‘living', and the primary road networks within the area.

Subsequent layers of information such as, airport building heights, should be prepared at the same scale to match the first layer of the structure plan, or either of its parts. Subsequent layers should be called either (Overlay 2). The use of ‘Overlay' is preferred.

Standard stipples and symbols should be used when producing structure plans, overlays/enlargements.

A disk of standard stipples and symbols is available from the department.

If you are creating a new category in addition to the standard stipples and symbols contact the department for clarification.

Structure plans overlays/enlargements generally do not show base information with the possible exception of creek line, coastline, local, primary, secondary roads and railways.

Areas shown will be generalised to the extent that minor zoning amendments may not require the redrafting of the structure plan.

In the case of an amendment by council, any significant zoning changes must also amend the structure plan, overlays and enlargements. Council must contact the department for the supply of approved digital files. For more specific technical amendment and production instructions see the ‘Technical User Guide for the production of Development Plan Mapping'.

Zone and policy area mapping

This mapping comprises the following types and is incorporated in the following order:

  • Index Map
  • Zone Maps

(may include reference to Enlargements of Zone maps)

  • Policy Area Maps

(may include reference to Enlargements of Policy Area maps)

  • Precinct Maps

(may include references to Enlargements of Precinct maps.

Zone, policy area and precinct maps must include specific zone, policy area and Precinct detail only. Additional detail should be drafted into figures, diagrams, or illustrations and will be located in the text.

Zone, policy area and precinct maps are for the purpose of identifying areas within which particular policies apply and therefore, should indicate clearly the name, location and extent of zones and policy areas.

Landowners must be able to accurately identify the boundary of the land in relation to zone definition as this governs the application of the planning laws.

It is essential that zones do not overlap one another. It is also essential that policy areas and precincts are contained within a single zone. Zone, policy areas and precincts should not overlap.

There should be no overlap between adjoining maps.

Notes along map edges will refer to the adjoining maps.

All zone boundaries must be defined in relation to current cadastre and drawn in a clear manner. Boundaries should be defined as following:

  • sectionland division or title boundaries
  • the centre line of roads
  • straight lines adjoining positions defined by survey
  • measurements and angles on the map.

All policy areas and precinct boundaries should be clearly defined to show the extent of the applicable policies involved.

Notation of the policy area/precinct on policy area/precint maps should be consecutively ordered. The department can advise on numbering.

Policy areas and precincts should be numbered on the map and the legend will cross reference policy area names with numbers. Policy area/precinct numbering should be sequential throughout the Plan.

Enlargements to any portion of a zone area map should be highlighted with a stipple and a note referring to the relevant map number.

All lettering type sizes, type fonts, line weights, line symbols, north points, scale bars etc on maps must be to a suitable standard for approval.

Where zone boundaries and local government area boundaries coincide, the local government area boundary should take precedence.

Road names should be shown where possible (especially major roads).

Property identifiers must be shown on maps if referred to in the text.

The zone or policy area boundary must be drawn ensuring the centre of the line is aligned with the cadastral boundary.

Since the Planning Act 1982 (now the Development Act 1993), there have been over 130 approved Ministerial Development Plan Amendments (DPAs) (formerly known as Supplementary Development Plans (SDPs) or Plan Amendment Reports (PARs)).

Through this process of amendment, the Minister has progressively introduced a wide variety of Development Plan policies to address matters of State significance. This has occurred at all policy levels:

  • Regional policies
  • Council wide policies
  • Site specific policies at the local zone, policy area or precinct level.

Ministerial Policies

Ministerial policies have been introduced into Development Plans in order to address significant policy issues such as housing choice, centres and shopping development, coastal development, urban growth, industrial development, outdoor advertising, the Mount Lofty Ranges, the Hills Face Zone, stormwater management, waste management, bushfire management, wind farms, telecommunications facilities, and the preservation of native vegetation and significant trees. In addition, there have been many amendments dealing with site specific development issues, including the East End Precinct, the Port River Waterfront, and the creation of State Heritage Areas.

Policies that have been introduced by the Minister should be retained in their original form unless amendment is necessary to reflect changing policy conditions. This includes preserving consistent wording across affected Development Plans so that established policy remains unaltered. In order to assist in the identification of these policies, the department has produced a summary of all policies introduced via Ministerial amendments since 1982. These can be accessed using the links below:

The list is updated periodically as new Ministerial policies take effect. This list also includes approved DPAs which have been introduced on interim effect.

While a Ministerial DPA is on interim effect, any subsequent DPA affecting the same policies should not alter the Ministerial policies until after the Ministerial DPA has been formally approved. Once the Ministerial policies have been finalised, councils can then consider what amendments, if any, may be required to better reflect local circumstances.


When undertaking DPAs, councils should clearly indicate at the Statement of Intent stage that the investigations for the DPA will identify amendments proposed to policies previously introduced by the Minister and provide justification for this, supported by the provisions of the Planning Strategy.

When preparing Development Plan Amendments, councils, consultants and government agencies are reminded of the need to retain Ministerial policies unless sound justification can be provided for their amendment or deletion.

It should be acknowledged that many Regional policies have been consolidated with the council wide policies, to reduce overlap and repetition. Care should therefore be taken to identify any Ministerial policies that may be affected by a proposed Development Plan Amendment.

Recording of Proposed Amendments to Ministerial Policies

Information about proposed amendments to Ministerial policies should be provided in a table format or councils may wish to highlight the policies to be amended or deleted using the text strikethrough method.

Early discussion with the department is recommended where changes to Ministerial policies are being contemplated.

Required by Minister / Department

Statement of Intent

Draft DPA

Interim Operation

Heritage DPAs

Consultation approval

On consultation



Useful Documents

Reference information

Reports to council




All DPA projects need quality project management if they are to achieve the desired goal within a reasonable time frame. Where the assistance of consultants is required, additional project planning and management is needed. Often the amount of time and effort needed to properly project manage a consultancy is under estimated. For large and complex projects a dedicated project manager is recommended.

Before a consultant is engaged it is vital that you are clear about the following:

  • the reason why a consultant is being used as opposed to in-house staff
  • exactly what the consultant will be required to do and when
  • the budget and resources available to match the scope of work needed.

Why use a consultant?

There are a number of reasons why a consultant might be employed:

  • to replace or duplicate in-house staff who are not available to do the work in the time required – often referred to as contractors
  • there is a need for specialist skills, knowledge or experience that is not available in-house
  • to bring additional resources to hand to enable the project to be completed
  • a combination of the above

It is important to be clear about the reasons a consultant is needed as this will help you to define the scope of work and select the right consultant for the job.

It would be prudent at this stage to check any council procurement requirements. Some organisations have rules and requirements about:

  • who has the authority to agree to engage a consultant
  • who has the authority to approve a consultancy budget allocation
  • how a consultant is engaged (which is often linked to the budget, eg if over $XX there needs to be a competitive tendering process).

Assisting Councils to better Engage Consultants in DPAs

The following paper has been prepared by the department to assist councils to better engage consultants in the preparation of Development Plan Amendments:

The aim of the paper is to assist councils to secure the services of consultants who are well versed and competent in undertaking a DPA.

The paper is aimed at regional/rural councils but could also be adopted by metropolitan councils where the services of a consultant are required (e.g. the preparation of the DPA or the undertaking of specific investigations).

Preparing a Consultant's Brief

The attached consultant's brief proforma (DOC, 66 KB) provides an outline of the key issues that you should address in a consultant's brief. There is no need to be ‘tricky' in the engagement of a consultant – if you want to make sure that the work gets done properly, on time and meets its budget then simple, clear communication is the best way of achieving this. The brief need not be long but does need to be very clear from the perspective of a person who does not work in your organisation.

In some cases it is very hard to be clear, if this is the case then say so and approach the project in a manner that will help to define the project. Strategies include:

  • using a consultant to draft the brief to make sure that the instructions are clear and that the approach is an efficient use of the available budget
  • calling for a response- be up-front about the situation and seek suggestions
  • staging the project: (1) write issues paper (2) determine policy direction (3) prepare SOI and then (4) prepare DPA.

When a consultant is involved prior to the SOI agreement, it is recommended that the contract allow for a review of the brief and budget in case the scope of the SOI changes.

Selection Process

The manner in which you go about selecting a preferred consultant should take into account the nature of the task and the size of the budget. You need to make sure that you get someone who can do the work to the standard that you can afford. On the other hand you do not want the selection process to be too onerous as it can be a waste of your time and can add to the overheads of the consultancy.

In general the amount of work a consultant is required to do in order to win the job should have some correlation to the size of the budget. If too much time is required to get through the selection process then the consultant has little hope of making a profit on the job. This can deter quality consultants from bidding for your project. Subject to any procurement restrictions the following is provided as a guide:

Budget Range (‘000)Method(s)
$5 - $10Direct appointment, select by meeting, 3 verbal quotes
$10 - $303 verbal quotes, 3 one page submissions
$30 - $503-5 short submissions, interviews
$50 or moreOpen market, registrations of interest, interviews, presentations

Consultant Contracts

It is very important that you identify any requirements that your organisation might have in relation to contracts. The bigger the project and project fee, the more important it is to understand contractual issues.

In principle, a contract is formed after two parties go through a process:

  • one party makes an offer (in this case you are offering to pay a consultant to do some work)
  • the other party responds to this offer.

A contract is formed when the two parties agree. A contract can be verbal, although if there is any dispute over the contract this makes it hard for either party to prove the basis of the original contract. For this reason it is best that the contract is agreed in writing.

A simple contractual arrangement is to accept a consultant's submission, subject to any relevant amendments, via a letter. However, some organisations require that both parties sign a ‘standard contract' that then refers to the consultant brief or the consultant's submission.

If the project includes sub-consultants (ie the team comprises consultants from more than one company) then it is important that you specify the lead consultant. The consultant submission should also establish clear reporting arrangements and deadlines for sub-consultants.

Time, budget and scope

The relationship between time, budget and scope will fundamentally influence the outcome of your project. If you do not get the balance of these three right, then your project is likely to have problems. It is important to identify which of the three factors is most important and tailor the other two to support this.


Refers to how quickly the work needs to be done. In general the shorter the timeframe the more expensive the project will be. Achieving faster turn-around times needs either highly experienced staff or more than one staff member, both of which cost more.

However, there are limits to timeframes – extending timeframes can reduce costs but beyond two years other factors can place your project at risk. There are also limits to the minimum timeframe – regardless of cost, too much pressure on timeframes can increase the risk of mistakes and poor quality of work.

When estimating timeframes, either in consultancy briefs or SOIs, time needs to be added to allow for communication between the client and the consultant. For example, a draft document will be prepared by the consultant that is then reviewed by the client, refined by the consultant and then issued as a final. The time needed for this process is often several weeks and needs to be included in estimates.


The amount of money and other resources available for a project will influence the timing and scope of the end product. Consultant costs are divided broadly into two types – project hours and expenses. Project hours are the amount of time that staff can spend on your job. Expenses include a range of project costs such as photocopying, printing, travelling etc.

You can minimise timeframes and maximise scope by making sure that the maximum amount of the fee is put into project hours. Suggestions include:

  • minimising the number of formal ‘reports' (seek background papers, progress reports, email up-dates instead)
  • requiring only electronic copies of reports (do the printing and copying in-house)
  • providing as much background material as possible
  • allowing access to council office resources (eg GIS, library)
  • taking on as much of the project management and project administration tasks as reasonable (depending on the availability of in-house staff)
  • minimising meetings, travelling to meetings (ie not asking the consultant to travel to you) and making sure meetings are run efficiently.


Scope refers to the amount of work involved in the project, which naturally influences the budget. There are two other factors which are sub-sets of scope:

  • quality will also influence budgets and timeframes – more effort and experience is needed to achieve higher quality outcomes
  • changes to the brief, scope, direction of a project will increase the timeframes and budget.


If time is the most critical element (eg you are trying to get a DPA on interim operation to protect a building from demolition) then keep the scope very tight and the budget open (eg hourly rate base).

Alternatively, you may require a heritage survey for a Local Heritage DPA – this work needs to be accurate and of high quality as it will need to withstand the scrutiny of the elected members, landowners, the community, LHAC and the Minister. Have this work commence before the submission of the SOI and be more flexible about the timeframe so that the budget can be set at a reasonable level and the quality will not be compromised.

The risk of consultation

Undertaking consultation is an important aspect of planning projects and a statutory requirement of DPAs. However, from a consultant's perspective this represents a significant risk as it is difficult to predict how much work is likely to be involved in responding to consultation submissions.

Consultants will generally react in one of two ways to this risk:

  • make a ‘best guess' estimate of likely public reaction and then add a contingency
  • tailor the quality of their work to the budget and scope.

This means that you could pay more than you have to or receive a standard and quality of work that is questionable (and which will end up in your Development Plan).

As such, it is generally recommended that the methodology and fee structure for DPA processes remove the risks associated with the consultation phase. This can be achieved by:

  • concluding the consultancy upon commencement of the public consultation phase
  • tendering for the summary of submissions and preparation of approval documentation after the public consultation period when the volume of responses and scope of change can be more accurately estimated
  • converting the consultancy to an hourly charge following the commencement of public consultation.

Consulting with government departments and agencies is an important part of the DPA process and can occur at different stages and in different forms. There are two main circumstances where agencies are consulted in the DPA process:

  • to satisfy the statutory requirement specified by the Development Act 1993 (the Act)
  • to seek informed opinion or information that will assist with the preparation of the DPA and the development of the draft policy.


The minimum requirement specified by the Act is to consult those agencies that have a direct interest in the draft DPA; giving them four to eight weeks (depending on the agreed consultation process) to provide a written submission. There are also circumstances where a DPA of a particular type must be referred to a specific agency. For example:

  • Murray Darling Basin – Minister for the River Murray
  • Dolphin Sanctuary – Minister for the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary
  • State Heritage – Minister responsible for the administration of the Heritage Places Act and the South Australian Heritage Council
  • Marine Parks – Minister for Marine Parks
  • Arkaroola – Minister responsible for the administration of the Arkaroola Protection Act.

However, in some cases it is necessary to seek greater assistance and information on a DPA, particularly when agencies have useful information that can inform its preparation and associated policy.

Who to consult

The Act requires that the DPA be referred to agencies that have ‘a direct interest in the matter for comment'. There is however a tendency to consult even those agencies that have only a remote interest in order to avoid any possible future criticism. The problem with this approach is that it increases the total agency work load and can lead to a situation where the quality and value of responses is reduced.

The following questions can be used to help determine which agencies have a ‘direct' interest in the policy change.

The agency consultation list is set and agreed in the SOI. If the scope of the intended DPA is clear in the SOI then the level of agency interest should also be clear and the subsequent consultation list succinct. If the SOI is general then the extent of likely interest is more difficult to determine and the list of agencies is likely to be longer.

Does the proposed change:

  • relate to a specific technical area in which the agency has expertise?
  • have any implications for the administration of an Act or legislation related to an agency (eg a licence or other approvals)?
  • relate to a specific geographical feature or location of particular relevance to an agency?

How to consult

Most agencies have developed streamlined systems and procedures for dealing with statutory consultation requirements under the Development Act, including the DPA requirements.

It is important to make it clear to an agency when you are consulting as a statutory requirement.

Alternatively, when you wish to engage an agency as a source of information or expert opinion, it is recommended that a more personal approach be used.

In such cases it is often useful to understand the issues or pressures facing a particular agency. The following are some hints.

Meeting timeframes

Agencies have up to eight weeks to provide written response on DPAs (depending on the DPA process used). If a council does not receive a response within the deadline, then it can assume that the agency has no comment to make.

However, in practice it is in council's interest to ensure all departments or agencies are satisfied. If a department or agency is opposed to the basis of a DPA, its approval may be jeopardised later in the process. If council has not received comment from a government department or agency known to have a direct interest, within the required period, council should contact the government department or agency concerned. If no response is immediately forthcoming then council should contact the department so it can either pursue the agency or advise council of an appropriate course of action.

If the draft DPA generates conflicting advice from government departments and agencies, it is council's responsibility to use their best endeavours to resolve the conflict. Failing this, assistance can be sought from the department.

It is strongly recommended that councils streamline the agency consultation phase by:

  • highlighting in a covering letter the key issues council would like the agency to address (this of course does not limit the extent of comment by the agency, but does help in focusing the response)
  • meeting with key government departments and agencies early in the period for agency consultation
  • forwarding copies of the summary of agency comments and council's response to the relevant agency for information and to facilitate further dialogue if an agency wishes to make further comment.

Perspective on Planning Policy

Most professional disciplines and organisations have a general concept of ‘policy' which involves making a statement about how a matter will be addressed or viewed. Confusion can arise when other disciplines encounter planning policy, which can be viewed as general policy with legislative effect. However, there is a fundamental limit to the scope of planning policy due to the link between Development Plan policy and the definition of development.

The department works with agencies to develop their understanding of this link and many agencies have a dedicated officer to assist with the preparation of DPA submissions who is generally aware of this issue. However, some agencies do not have such arrangements or the responsible officer many change regularly.

Focus Responses

Agencies are often dealing with numerous DPAs from all over the state at any given time. Some use key word search facilities to assist them in assessing DPAs.

Assisting agencies to focus on areas of likely interest will help to facilitate quality responses.

This can include:

  • summarising how the DPA impacts on issues of direct interest to them (if the impact is general then is it questionable as to how ‘direct' the interest is)
  • directing the agency to specific policies, pages or maps
  • asking specific questions
  • providing a proforma response table.
Page last modified Tuesday, 27 August 2019