Assessable developments

Development applications

ACTPLA’s website and shopfront provides a quick guide with information about development applications (DAs) as well as how to lodge a DA. Since 2012 the lodgement of development applications and associated processes are accepted via the eDevelopment (eDA) portal only and not over the counter, via post or email. Applicants must register for an eDA and can access certain online services including the uploading of plans and documentation, lodgement of additional information and amendments and viewing the status of their application at any time. Online demonstrations on how to lodge a DA online are provided as well as training on the eDA portal. (The Customer Service team can also be called on 6207 1923).

It is the applicant’s responsibility to identify the applicable assessment track and correctly complete the DA lodgement form prior to lodgement. However, a request can be made to ACTPLA for pre-application advice to help identify the correct assessment track (see below). There are different types of forms for different development proposals. To identify requirements, reference can be made to the documentation requirements page on the ACTPLA website.

ACTPLA requires all plans and supporting documents to be presented in accordance with set criteria, including compliance with Australian Standards as updated from time to time and where specified some plans and documentation must be provided in printed form. Often people are assisted in the DA process by industry professionals such as architects, draftspersons and building certifiers.

Once a DA is lodged, a lodgement check is carried out to ensure the minimum requirements have been met. If the DA submission is complete, a fee advice is sent requesting payment of the relevant fees. If not complete, a request is sent to the applicant to submit the additional information. On payment of the fees, the DA is formally lodged. Assessment then commences, necessary public notifications are issued and referrals made to relevant entities (see below).

ACTPLA charges an application fee for DAs based on the anticipated cost of the work, which is calculated in accordance with the Building Cost Guide. Applicants may also be charged fees for other services such as pre-application written advice, failure notices issued during the completeness check process, a building levy, hydraulic fees, plan registrations, survey data and certificates. All fees are listed in a Fees and Charges Booklet available on the ACTPLA website.

Pre-application information and advice

Pre-application information may take the form of a meeting or formal advice. Preapplication meetings allow people to seek advice on development proposals before they submit a development application and are a good opportunity to raise or identify issues that may arise when an application is assessed. Pre-application meetings are a free service. A written pre-application advice on a development proposal may also be obtained when requested by a proponent in writing (s 138). This advice expires six months after the day it is given and there is a fee for this service.

When sought early in the design process, pre-application advice can help resolve issues such as:
  • which assessment track is likely to apply to the proposal
  • whether the proposal is likely to be exempt or prohibited
  • whether the proposal will require referral to another entity
  • whether public notification will be required
  • whether the proposal is consistent with existing lease conditions
  • any other information that may be required in the DA.
ACTPLA need not consider the proposal if it believes it has not been provided with sufficient information to give adequate advice and it is not bound by it’s advice for a variety of reasons including if the environmental circumstances surrounding the development proposal change, the development proposal under assessment is different from the proposal for which the advice was given or if there are changes to the TP before the assessment takes place (Planning Act s 138(6)).

Entity endorsements and referrals

For all assessable developments there are a number of categories that require approvals and endorsements from other ACT organisations or entities. ACTPLA must refer a development application in the merit and impact tracks to an entity if it is prescribed by regulation (the Planning Act s 148; see also Planning Regulation s 26 for a list of the prescribed entities). A referral entity may be a government department, statutory body or utility that provides advice to assist with assessing development applications. For example, if the development involves demolition it may require approval from water, sewerage, gas or electricity utilities such as ActewAGL or TAMS. For example, if the development site is larger than 0.3 ha (3,000 sqm) it may require a Sediment Control Plan to be endorsed by the Environment Protection Authority (now within the Environment and Planning Directorate).

Whether liaison with referral entities is required before or after the DA is lodged depends on what assessment track the DA must take. If entity advice is provided in writing at the time the DA is lodged the advice must have been given less than six months before the lodgement date. Under the Planning Act, entities are required to provide ACTPLA with a response within 15 working days from the date the application was referred (s 149). If advice is not received within this timeframe, the entity is taken to have supported the application (s 150). If ACTPLA is satisfied that the applicant has already adequately consulted with the entity and the entity agrees to the proposal in writing, then the application must not be referred (s 148(2)).

ACTPLA must refer the development application to the Conservator of Flora and Fauna (the conservator) if it believes a proposed development is likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact on a protected matter. The conservator’s advice must contain an assessment of whether the proposed development is likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact on a protected matter and, if so, advise about suitable offsets for the proposed development (Nature Conservation Act 2014 s 318). ACTPLA may not give development approval if the development proposal is inconsistent with the conservator’s advice or if the proposed development is likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact on a protected matter (s 147A). An environmental impact is significant if it might adversely affect an environmental function, system, value or entity. The effect can be direct, cumulative or incremental. Certain matters must be considered when determining whether an adverse environmental effect is significant including: the kind, size, frequency, intensity, scope and length of time of the impact and the sensitivity, resilience and rarity of the environmental function, system, value or entity likely to be affected (s 124A) (see the merit track section below for the definition of ‘protected matter’).

Light rail exceptions

In 2014 the planning of light rail was introduced to connect the suburbs of Canberra to the city centre. The statutory planning of this infrastructure expressly overrides some of the usual requirements outlined in the Planning Act. The Act allows light rail planning to bypass certain referrals and advices of entities in situations where the proposal does not involve a protected matter. The light rail exceptions were introduced to ensure the light rail development progresses without delay. In particular, the Planning Act allows light rail proposals to bypass the otherwise specified requirements if they would risk significant delay to the completion of the light rail, risk a significant increase in cost or otherwise impede the progress of the development. (See below for more information on the approval process for light rail proposals in the merit and impact assessment tracks).

Assessment tracks

It is the responsibility of the applicant to identify the applicable assessment track.

Code track

A code track assessment applies to simpler developments that meet all the relevant rules in the TP. With the increase in development types that can now be considered exempt (see above), there are few developments that are currently considered in this track. If applicable, an applicant must ensure that an application for development approval in the code track is accompanied by information or documents addressing the relevant rules.

Possible code track proposals include: a large pergola, a below ground swimming pool, a dual occupancy proposal, or a house extension.

The code track does not have any mandatory requirements for DAs to be referred to other entities (s 117(c)). However, if a code track development application requires approval from an entity (for example ActewAGL or TAMs), the approval must be: • obtained prior to the lodgement of the development application, and

• submitted as a supporting document.

There is no requirement to publicly notify a code track development application (s 117(a)) and there is no opportunity for third parties to lodge representations or objections to the proposal (s 156).

A DA in the code track, which complies with all the relevant rules, must be approved no later than 20 working days after the day the application is lodged (s 118). A development application is not considered lodged until full payment of fees is made. A schedule of fees and charges is available from ACTPLA and is available on its website.

Merit track

Most developments fall into this track, including applications to vary a lease. Multiunit and commercial developments are usually considered under the merit track, as are single houses when they do not meet all the relevant rules of the TP.

The aim of the merit track is to provide flexibility and a performance-based assessment that provides the opportunity for applicants to demonstrate that approval is possible even if their development deviates from prescriptive code requirements. The expected outcome is the facilitation of the best design outcome for a site and for neighbours. For example, under the TP, a code may specify that the side boundaries of a residential development be no less than 1.5 m. The applicant, however, can apply to deviate from this rule and seek permission for the side boundaries to be approved at 1.2 m. In this case the applicant would lodge the DA in the merit track with documentation supporting the TP deviation. This optional compliance with the rules or criteria does not apply where the rule is mandatory.

Examples of merit track proposals include: development in a residential zone, a childcare centre in residential area, a gymnasium in commercial area or an apartment in commercial area.

Approval process

Merit track DAs may be approved notwithstanding that they do not meet the prescriptive code requirements, provided that they meet the relevant merit criteria of the relevant code(s), the requirements of the TP or the NCP and the requirements set out in section 119 of the Planning Act, including the relevant objectives for the relevant zone. However, development approval in the merit track can only be given for land in a rural lease if the proposal is consistent with any land management agreement. Any proposed developments that will affect a registered tree or a declared site under the Tree Protection Act 2005 can only be approved if it is consistent with the advice of the conservator (s 119(1)).

Development approval must not be given for a proposal in the merit track if approval would be inconsistent with any advice given by an entity to which the application was referred (s 119(2)). However, the decision maker can approve a development contrary to the advice of another entity if it is satisfied that any applicable guidelines and realistic alternatives to the development had been addressed and that the development is not inconsistent with the objects of the TP. This does not apply where the development concerns a registered tree or a declared site, in which case the decision maker must not approve a development that is inconsistent with the advice of the conservator (s 119(3)).

There is, however, an exception to this rule if the development is related to a light rail development proposal and if the proposal does not affect a protected matter. A ‘protected matter’ is defined under section 111A of the Planning Act as a matter protected by the Commonwealth or a protected matter as declared by the minister. The Planning and Development (Protected Matters) Declarations 2015 (No. 1) contains a schedule of species declared as a protected matter for the purposes of the Planning Act.

If the development is related to light rail, no protected matter is involved and ACTPLA (or the minister) is satisfied that an entity’s advice will risk significant delay, increase the cost or be a significant impediment to the development, then that entity’s advice may be disregarded (section 119A). Section 119A(2) expressly excludes the above described exception for registered trees, thus allowing the conservator’s advice to also be disregarded.

It is important to note that a proposal will be considered related to light rail if the development to which the proposal relates may facilitate the construction, ongoing operation and maintenance, repairs, refurbishment, relocation or replacement of a light rail track or infrastructure within 1km from an existing light rail track or a proposed light rail track (s 137A(1)(a)) or if a light rail declaration is made (s 137A(1)(b)).

ACTPLA (or the minister) will base its decision on whether or not to approve a development proposal in the merit track on:
  • the relevant code of the TP
  • the objectives for the zone
  • the suitability of the land for development
  • an environmental significance opinion if applicable (see below)
  • all representations
  • entity advice (subject to the above light rail exceptions)
  • a plan of management for any public land
  • the probable impact of the development, including environmental impact (s 120).

Public notification and comment

Merit track DAs must be publicly notified by ACTPLA (s 121). There are two categories of public notification (Division 7.3.4):
  • minor—where written notice of the DA must be sent to adjoining neighbours (s 153)
  • major—where a sign stating the development proposed must be displayed on the property to be developed and a notice of the application published in a newspaper (s 155).
Schedule 2 of the Planning Regulation prescribes the types of development for which minor or limited public notification is required. These include developments such as the building, alteration or demolition of a single dwelling, if the development would not result in more than one dwelling being on a block or the building, alteration or demolition of a building or structure defined as non-inhabitable under the Building Code.

Anyone may make a written comment or objection about a DA that has been publicly notified, that is, for all merit and impact track proposals and some amended development applications (s 156). Comments or objections are sent to ACTPLA and must be received during the notification period. For minor developments, representations must be received within 10 working days of notification (s 157, r 28(a)(ii)). The time-frame for major notifications is 15 working days (s 157, r 28(b)(ii)). A representation about a development application may relate to how the development proposed in the application meets, or does not meet, any finding or recommendation of the EIS for the development, but must not relate to the adequacy of the EIS for the development (see s 219 of the Planning Act and Chapter 4 in this Handbook for further details regarding EIS).

Representations form part of the public register and are made available to the applicant, unless an exemption has been granted. Anyone who has made a representation during the public notification period is notified in writing of the decision as well as any rights of review of the decision.

ACTPLA may by notice extend the time for allowing representations. ACTPLA will not consider representations made outside the set time-frames.

Assessment time-frames

ACTPLA may ask an applicant for further information at any time during the assessment process. ACTPLA must request this information in writing (s 141). The applicant is usually given 20 working days to provide the information (s 141(3)). If ACTPLA decides to amend a development application then the amended application must be publicly notified if the initial application was also so required.

Once all the relevant lodgement fees have been paid ACTPLA is required to make a decision on merit track DAs within 30 working days (s 122). However, if representations have been made this period is extended to 45 working days. This timeframe is also extended if ACTPLA has requested further information from the applicant or if the DA is amended (ss 166-169).

Impact track

DAs that are impact assessable undergo the broadest level of assessment and, unless exempt by the minister, must include a completed environmental impact statement (EIS) in relation to the proposal (see Chapter 4 in this Handbook for more information on EIS). They are also considered against the TP and statements of strategic directions.

Impact track assessment applies to infrastructure proposals and developments in sensitive areas, developments that have been declared impact assessable by the minister, and all other proposals not covered by the exempt, prohibited, code or merit tracks (ss 123 and 132). The types of developments which may be subject to impact track assessment include: constructing a major dam; constructing a major road; light rail line or other linear transport corridor; or clearing a significant area of native vegetation (see the Planning Act Schedule 4).

A DA is considered impact assessable if it falls within one or more of the following five criteria:
  • the relevant development table of the TP states that impact assessment applies
  • Schedule 4 of the Planning Act lists it as a development requiring an EIS (see below)
  • the proposal is impact assessable under section 124 of the Planning Act by declaration of the minister (see below)
  • the development is a controlled action under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (‘EPBC Act’), but is assessed under the ACT Planning Act in accordance with a bilateral agreement between the ACT and Commonwealth governments (see Chapter 4 in this Handbook for information on bilateral agreements)
  • the proposal is impact assessable by declaration of the minister responsible for the Public Health Act 1997 (s 125).
Schedule 4 contains two sections, both of which mandate the completion of an EIS. The first relates to the development itself, for instance construction of a transport corridor including a major road, a permanent venue for the conduct of motor racing events or a large petroleum storage facility. The second relates to the areas or processes that the development may affect, for instance, a proposal that is likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact on an endangered species or ecological community (see Chapter 4 in this Handbook for more information on environmental impact assessment).

The minister may make a declaration that a proposal is impact assessable under section 124 if satisfied on reasonable grounds that there is a risk of significant adverse environmental impact on the site, or elsewhere, from the proposed development. A significant adverse environmental impact is defined in section 124A (see above).

Unless one of the above listed criteria applies and for certain impact track proposals itemised in Schedule 4 of the Planning Act, a proponent may apply for an environmental significance opinion from a relevant agency that the proposal is not likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact. The production of the opinion by the agency will take the proposal out of the impact track (obviating the requirement for an EIS) and it will be assessed in the merit track (s 138AA). For example, if a proposal is likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact on a critically endangered species or other protected matter, the conservator may be asked to provide an environmental significance opinion indicating that the proposal is not likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact.

Approval process

Under section 129 of the Planning Act, ACTPLA (or the minister) will base its decision on whether or not to approve a development proposal in the impact track on:
  • the relevant code of the TP
  • the objectives for the zone
  • the suitability of the land for development
  • all representations
  • entity advice (subject to light rail exceptions – see below)
  • a plan of management for any public land
  • the probable impact of the development, including the environmental impact
  • the completed EIS for the proposal
  • the conclusions of any inquiry about an EIS for the proposal (see below and see Chapter 4 in this Handbook for more information on EIA and EIS)
  • the offsets policy. An offset, for a development that is likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact on a protected matter, means environmental compensation for the likely impact (s 111C). The offsets policy is a notifiable instrument prepared by the minister in consultation with ACTPLA and the conservator describing what is considered suitable for an offset and how environmental compensation may be made to offset the impact of developments that have a significant adverse environmental impact on protected matters (s 111E) (see the merit track section above for what is a ‘protected matter’). What is a significant adverse environmental impact is described in section 124A (detailed above). An offset must be consistent with the offsets policy (s 111S) and ACTPLA must take reasonable steps to implement the offsets policy (s 111M).
Part 8.3 of the Planning Act allows the minister to establish a panel to conduct an inquiry about any or all aspects of an EIS. Under the Planning Act, the Public Health Act minister may also direct the minister to conduct an inquiry in relation to the effects on public health of the proposal that is the subject of the EIS. Part 8.3 also sets out the timeframes and procedures the minister must follow in conducting an inquiry.

Under section 128 an impact track DA must not be approved unless an EIS has been completed, or the minister, under section 211, has exempted that application. Nor must the DA be approved unless the proposal is consistent with:
  • the National Capital Plan
  • the Territory Plan including the Statement of Strategic Directions (see below)
  • any land management agreement for the land if it is in a rural lease
  • the related advice of the conservator if the proposal will affect a registered tree or declared site
  • the conditional requirements of an EIS exemption if such an instrument is in force
  • advice of the Commonwealth Environment Minister if the proposed development is likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact on a Commonwealth protected matter by the Commonwealth or
  • the advice of the conservator if the proposed development is likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact on a protected matter (s 147A). However, the conservator’s advice on a protected matter may be overridden
if the minister is to decide the development application (using the minister’s call-in power, see the relevant section below) and the minister is satisfied that the approval is consistent with the offsets policy and that the approval would provide a substantial public benefit.

The Statement of Strategic Directions sets out the principles for giving effect to the main object of the TP. The object of the TP is to ensure, in a manner not inconsistent with the NCP, the planning and development of the ACT provide the people of the territory with an attractive, safe and efficient environment in which to live, work and have their recreation. The principles set to achieve this object include economic, social and environmental sustainability and spatial and urban planning design principles.

Similar to the merit track assessment above (s 119), section 128 also provides that approval must not be given if inconsistent with any advice given by an entity, unless the decision maker is satisfied any applicable guidelines, all reasonable development options and design solutions, and any realistic alternative to the proposed development have been considered and the decision is consistent with the objects of the TP. This exception does not apply to advice given by the conservator where the development involves a registered tree or declared site. In these cases development approval must not be given by ACTPLA if it is inconsistent with the conservator’s advice (s 128(3) (4)).

Similar to the merit track, the Planning Act provides for a light rail exception. Where the development proposal is related to light rail and does not involve a protected matter, ACTPLA (or the minister) may grant approval regardless of any inconsistent entity advice where it is satisfied that the entity’s advice will risk significant delay, will increase the cost or be a significant impediment to the development to which the proposal relates (section 128A). Section 128A(2) expressly excludes the requirement that a light rail proposal be consistent with the advice of the conservator in relation to registered trees or declared sites. However, unlike its merit track equivalent, this section does not specifically exclude section 128(4) which otherwise provides protection for registered trees or declared sites. This part of the legislation creates an ambiguity as to the issuing of a DA where the proposal is in the impact track, relates to light rail and is inconsistent with the conservator’s advice relating to a registered tree or declared site.

See above in merit track section for an explanation of a ‘protected matter’ (s 111A) and ‘related to light rail’ (s 137A).

Public comment, entity referrals and assessment time frames

Public notification of impact track applications must always undergo the major notification process (s 152(1)(b)). Otherwise, the procedures and timeframes for representations, entity referrals, requests for further information from ACTPLA, and for making a decision in the impact track are the same for development applications in the merit track discussed above (ss 130 and 131).

Pre-DA community consultation

Community consultation is also required for all larger scale development proposals before the development application is lodged. In short, if a development proposal meets one of the triggers listed below then a pre-DA community consultation must be completed and lodged before the DA will be accepted by ACTPLA:
  • a building for residential use with 3 or more storeys and 15 or more dwellings
  • a building with a gross floor area of more than 5000m²
  • a building or structure more than 25m above finished ground level
  • a variation of a lease to remove its concessional status (s 138AE).
The pre-DA lodgement community consultation form is available on the ACTPLA website and provides details about the consultation, however it is up to the proponent to determine the type of community consultation that they will complete.

Certain development proposals are exempt from pre-DA community consultation. If the area is outlined in bold in one of the maps depicted in Schedule 1B of the Planning Regulation (accessed via the ACT legislation register) then it will be exempt. For example, at the time of writing, a development proposal for development in areas including Gungahlin, Molonglo, Kenny, Throsby and Jacka. The operation of this exemption must be reviewed by ACTPLA at least once every 5 years.

Development approvals

Most development applications are determined by ACTPLA. ACTPLA can decide to approve a development as per the DA, or it may decide to approve the development subject to conditions. If a development application has been referred to an entity then the notice of the decision about the DA must include information about any comment by the entity and whether ACTPLA followed the entity’s advice. ACTPLA can also refuse a DA (s 162). The minister will determine those DAs that have been ‘called in’ under the ministerial call-in power as allowed at Division 7.3.5 (see below for more information).

Conditional approvals

Conditional approvals can only be given for developments assessable in the merit or impact tracks. A code track proposal must not be approved subject to a condition unless the condition has been prescribed by regulation (s 165(4)). Some examples of conditions that may be imposed on code track proposals under the Planning Regulation (r 29) include:
  • that information relating to compliance with stated conditions be given to
  • that the development be carried out within a stated period
  • that a stated action be taken to manage the impact of the development, whether on or off the development site, for example, the protection of trees
  • that a bond be entered into securing performance against the conditions of the approval.
In relation to merit and impact track assessable developments, any decision about the imposition of conditions must be consistent with the TP. Section 165 of the Planning Act sets out the types of conditions to which a development approval may be subject. They include, among other things, if a conditional environmental significance opinion (ESO) has been given then a condition that the development complies with the conditional ESO; that stated things be done to prevent or minimise adverse environmental impacts; that a development be carried out to a stated standard or that it complies with an offset condition (see below for more information). It is an offence to develop other than in accordance with the conditions (s 202).

There are statutory time-frames during which ACTPLA, or the minister, must decide a DA. At the time of writing, the time for deciding a development proposal in the code track is 20 working days (s 118), in the merit track, 30 working days if no

representation is made or 45 working days if a representation is made (s 122) or if the development proposal in the impact track, 30 or 45 working days with or without a representation (s 131).

ACTPLA or the minister may still approve the application despite the ending of the time for deciding the application. However, if the prescribed time periods are exceeded and no decision has been made then the authority is taken to have decided to refuse the application (s 163).

Offset conditions

Where a development approval identifies a protected matter that is likely to suffer a significant adverse environmental impact, section 165B requires an ‘offset’ to compensate for the impact. An offset condition may also include a requirement for an offset management plan. The plan must be prepared by the proponent and must include certain information including how the effectiveness of the plan is to be monitored and reviewed. An offset management plan must be agreed to in writing by the conservator and approved by the minister.

Ministerial call-in power

The minister has the power to direct ACTPLA to refer a DA to the minister if the DA has not been decided (div. 7.3.5). This power does not extend to an application for a development proposal in the code track. When a referral direction is made, ACTPLA cannot take any further action in relation to the application other than procedural steps (unless otherwise directed) such as referring the application to an entity if required, for example, the conservator (s 158). The minister may decide to consider the DA if, in the minister’s opinion, it either raises a major policy issue, may have a substantial effect on the achievement or development of the objects of the TP, or would provide substantial public benefit should the DA be approved or refused (s 159).

However, before the minister is allowed to form an opinion to consider a DA, he or she must be satisfied that the level of community consultation carried out by the proponent of the development proposal was sufficient (s 158A). In doing this the minister must consider matters such as the nature of the proposal, whether preDA community consultation was undertaken (see s 138AE above), the information from referred entities if any, whether and what public notification was made and the representations received, if any. The minister must also consider the level of community awareness about the proposal and whether it has had an opportunity to have discussion and debate about the development proposal. For example, the minister must consider any information about the outcome of community consultation carried out by the proponent. If the minister is not satisfied that sufficient community consultation has been undertaken then he or she must refer the application back to ACTPLA for further action or direct ACTPLA to extend the public notification period during which the community can make representations and/or to obtain further information in relation to the development application.

If the minister decides to consider the DA he or she must notify ACTPLA and the applicant of this intention (s 160(2)). The minister must also ensure that ACTPLA’s comments accompany the application being considered.

When the minister decides a development application, the development approval may be inconsistent with the conservator’s advice pursuant to a section 147A referral (development applications involving protected matter to be referred to conservator) if the minister is satisfied that the approval is consistent with the offsets policy and would provide a substantial public benefit (s 128(2)).

If the minister does make a decision on a DA he or she must present the following information to the Legislative Assembly no more than three sitting days after making the decision:
  • a description of the development
  • details of the land where the development is proposed to take place
  • the applicant’s name
  • details of the minister’s decision
  • the grounds for the decision
  • a summary of the community consultation, if any (s 161(2)).

Public register

It is a legislative requirement that ACTPLA keep a public register recording the details of all development applications, approvals, the offsets register and other documents listed in the Planning Act (ss 27 and 28). All documents on the public register must be made available for public inspection during business hours and ACTPLA must allow people inspecting the public register and associated documents to make copies. Through the register the public may inspect documents including:
  • details of each DA (unless withdrawn) including amendments and section 156 representations, but not including associated documents such as residential floor plans
  • certain decisions ACTPLA has made about approvals including reconsiderations and amendments
  • The offsets register (s 111V). For each offset the register must include information such as the development approval, the details of the offset, the offset management plan if required and anything else considered relevant by ACTPLA
  • Lease variation charges
  • controlled activity orders, including requirements, location and name of the person who is the subject of the order (see below), but not the name of the applicant for a controlled activity order
  • directions to carry out rectification work
  • prohibition notices including the location and name of the person who is the subject of the notice.
The public register does not contain ‘associated documents’ for development applications, development approvals or leases, however they are otherwise made available for public inspection. For example, the advice of the conservator if development is likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact on a protected matter, information or documents addressing the relevant rules and criteria of the relevant assessment track or an EIS if applicable (s 30).

Controlled activities are defined by Schedule 2 of the Planning Act or by regulation. They include activities such as failure to implement an offset management plan; undertaking developments that do not meet approval requirements; developing without approval; unapproved structures and unauthorised use of unleased territory land. ACTPLA can issue a controlled activity order on its own initiative or as a result of a complaint (s 340). Contravening a controlled activity order is a criminal offence and can be prosecuted without having to prove a fault element, in other words, it is enough for the prosecution to prove the physical element of the offence only to secure a conviction (s 361).

Applicants may apply to ACTPLA to have information excluded from the public register (s 411). However, for such an application to succeed, ACTPLA must be satisfied that publication of the information would disclose a trade secret, would or could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any person, or lead to damage to, or theft of, property. The Commonwealth Attorney-General or the minister responsible for the administration of justice may also certify restrictions on public access for reasons of national security and public safety (s 412).

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