The Tasmanian planning system is undergoing sweeping reforms. On 22 February 2016, the Minister for Planning and Local Government, Mr Peter Gutwein, made the State Planning Provisions (SPP) in accordance with s.27(1)(b) of the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993 (LUPAA). Although they formally came into effect on 2 March 2017, they will not apply until the next stage of the process – the Local Provision Schedules – have been finalised. The SPPs are the first step in the introduction of the Tasmanian Planning Scheme, the first of its kind in Australia.
The aim of the Tasmanian Planning Scheme is to further harmonise Tasmania’s planning instruments and in doing so, produce faster, fairer and more cost-effective planning outcomes. Whether this will in fact eventuate, is yet to be seen.
What is the next step?
The Tasmanian Planning Scheme will consist of a single set of SPPs and a Schedule of Local Provision Schedules for each council area. Now that the SPPs have been finalised, local councils will be required to prepare their Local Provision Schedules based on the existing interim schemes, with public exhibition and assessment by the Tasmanian Planning Commission (Commission), before being finalised.
The drafting of the Local Provision Schedules will involve identifying zones (i.e. inner residential zone) within municipalities and the application of the spatial overlays (i.e. Natural Assets Code) to individual properties. The next stage is the most important in terms of the effect of the reforms for individual landholders and developers.
While the public notification and hearing stage for the Local Provision Schedules may be 12 months away, landholders are advised to stay abreast of opportunities to provide comments and/or attend the hearings.
Which version of LUPAA applies?
Those who have occasion to have regard to LUPAA would have noticed that the Act refers to the Tasmanian Planning Scheme already. On 17 December 2015, significant amendments were made to LUPAA to facilitate the transition to the Tasmanian Planning Scheme.
However, it is important to note that the transitional provisions preserve Parts 2A and 3 of the former Act until the Local Provision Schedules comes into effect. In this regard, the former version of LUPAA applies as it has previously.
What changes will the SPPs introduce?
While the SPPs do not apply until the Local Provision Schedules are finalised, there are some significant changes that will be introduced when the Tasmanian Planning Scheme comes into effect. These changes include:
Exemption for heritage listed places – The Heritage Code will not apply to a registered place on the Tasmanian Heritage Register. The current system provides for heritage assessment under both the local planning schemes and the Historic Cultural Heritage Act 1995, but moving forward this will not be the case.
Natural Asset Code retained – The Commission recommended that the Code be scrapped in its entirety and a new Code be developed after proper consideration of the biodiversity implications of proposed exemptions and the production of adequate, Statewide vegetation mapping. The Minister rejected this recommendation and has retained the Code with minor variations (i.e. deletion of the permitted allowance to clear 3000m2 of native vegetation in the Rural Living Zone).
Council call-in powers – New provisions have been inserted to allow Councils to “call-in” developments that may pose a hazard in terms of coastal erosion or inundation, even if the development site is not currently mapped as lying within a risk area.
Visitor accommodation – The Minister doubled the floor space for permitted visitor accommodation where certain criteria are met and confirmed that only visitor accommodation where payment was involved would fall to be considered under planning requirements.
Permitted pathway for use and development on reserved land – the exhibited SPPs provided a permitted pathway (i.e. a permit must be granted) for use and development proposed on reserve land where authority is granted:
- under the National Parks and Reserved Land Regulations 2009; and/or
- by the Director of Land under the Crowns Land Act 1976.
This is likely to be achieved through completion of a Reserve Activity Assessment. The permitted pathway has been retained, but the Minister has acknowledged that the Reserve Activity Assessment process needs to be reviewed.
Further amendments to planning in Tasmania
The Tasmanian government has foreshadowed the introduction of new major project legislation. It is believed that this proposal would allow the Minister to “call in” significant projects for assessment under a site-specific assessment process which would take it outside of the normal planning regime. This would introduce powers similar to those that currently exist in New South Wales and Queensland, which seek to streamline assessments for major projects.
What do these reforms mean for you?
Given the significant reforms proposed for Tasmania, it is advisable to stay abreast of opportunities to participate, provide comments and be proactive during the public exhibition and hearing stage.
If you have any queries or would like further information regarding this article, please contact:
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Published: 15 March 2017