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Regional Plans and Joint Planning Arrangements

Setting the direction for future planning and development of South Australia


A new Regional Planning framework enables local government areas to prepare regional plans that provide direction for the region’s future planning.

Regional Plans will be guided by priorities for the whole state so that we can respond to big opportunities and challenges together. They will also guide the development and updates for the new Planning and Design Code, a planning and design rule book for the whole state.

On 1 July 2019,  Phase 1 of the new planning system became operational in outback areas, but joint planning arrangements do not apply.


Completed In progress Pending

The new legislation paves the way for the creation of new Planning Regions in South Australia.

This allows regional areas to be clearly defined so collaborative arrangements can be established between councils for planning.

It is expected that all of the planning regions will be based upon the existing South Australia Government Regions, although adjustment may be considered to align with other service delivery boundaries as a result of the establishment of a Joint Planning Board. The Minister for Planning may also establish subregions within the broader planning regions.

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Provisions in the new legislation provide the opportunity for groups of Councils to perform certain functions as a Joint Planning Board (JPB), established by way of a Planning Agreement entered into with the Minister for Planning.

A JPB is a body corporate with its own powers and responsibilities and is constituted in accordance with the terms of the Planning Agreement, which sets out the functions, Board membership and how a JPB is to operate. A JPB has between three to seven members and can form committees (advisory) and subsidiaries (operational) to carry out its functions, and must adhere to a Code of Conduct.

The only mandated function of a JPB is preparation of a Regional Plan for the area of the Board, although other functions can be undertaken, such as appointing a regional development assessment panel and undertaking the process to make regionally relevant amendments to the Planning and Design Code.

The new legislation requires a Regional Plan to be prepared for each region. These are prepared by a Joint Planning Board in partnership with the councils included on the Board. Where there is no Board, the Commission will prepare the Regional Plan.

A Regional Plan must be consistent with relevant State Planning Policies and include:

  • a long-term vision (over a 15 to 30 year period) for the region or area, including provisions about the integration of land use, transport infrastructure and the public realm
  • maps and plans that relate to the long-term vision
  • contextual information about the region or area, including forward projections and statistical data and analysis as determined by the Commission or required by a Practice Direction
  • recommendations about the application and operation of the Planning and Design Code
  • a framework for the public realm or infrastructure within the region or area.

Regional Plans may be divided into parts relating to sub-regions and may include structure plans, master plans, concept plans or other similar documents. Regional Plans will be used to help guide consideration of any proposed changes for the Planning and Design Code, a single rulebook for the whole state.

In 2017 the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure initiated a pilot project to explore how Planning Agreements and JPBs will work, and to prepare guidelines to assist Councils that are seeking to form a JPB. Councils were invited to participate in the pilot and 40 Councils in eight groups initially participated. This reduced to 29 Councils in 6 groups at the start of 2018 when the project moved into stage two - preparation of a business case.

The 6 groups are Eyre Peninsula, Yorke Peninsula, Limestone Coast, Riverland, Barossa and neighbours and the Spencer Gulf Cities (the Murraylands and Eastern Region Alliance have maintained watching briefs). The LGA and Office of Local Government have also been involved.

The pilot has concluded and the following guidelines and templates to assist Councils to initiate and establish a Planning Agreement and JPB are now available. The Department has also prepared the guidelines and a template to assist JPBs to prepare a Regional Plan.

As an additional outcome of the pilot, the Department is now preparing a number of regulatory amendments to support the Planning Agreement template. A Code of Conduct for JPBs is being finalised along with two Practice Directions to be issued by the Commission - to specify procedural requirements for JPBs preparing a Regional Plan and to specify the appropriate level of information required when Councils submit a proposal to the Minister to enter into a Planning Agreement.

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Page last modified Monday, 1 July 2019