Identification of public land

Public land is identified in the Territory Plan (‘TP’). As described in Chapter 2 of this Handbook, the Planning and Development Act 2007 (ACT) (‘Planning Act’) requires the TP to establish the land uses and other land policies for all land in the ACT other than land designated under the National Capital Plan.

Public land is identified in the TP based on written recommendations by the Conservator of Flora and Fauna (the ‘conservator’, established under section 20 of the Nature Conservation Act 2014 (ACT)) or the custodian of the land to the ACT Planning and Land Authority (‘ACTPLA’). These recommendations are made under section 314 of the Planning Act and must concern unleased land. Section 314 also allows the conservator or the custodian to recommend varying the boundaries of an area of public land, removing the public land designation of an area, or varying the purpose for which the area of public land was reserved.

A custodian is defined as an administrative unit or other entity with administrative responsibility for land in the ACT that is unleased land, public land or both (Planning Act s 333). ACTPLA maintains a map (custodianship map) that identifies who has administrative responsibility for land in the ACT.

When either the custodian of an area of land, or the conservator, wishes to designate an area as public land, they must identify a purpose for this designation (s 314). The specific purposes for which an area may be designated as public land are:
  • wilderness areas
  • national parks
  • nature reserves
  • special purpose reserves
  • urban open spaces
  • cemetery or burial grounds
  • the protection of water supply
  • lakes
  • sport and recreation reserves
  • heritage areas (s 315).

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