Planning Amendment Bill 2021 Passed

NT Government

There is now greater certainty for the community and businesses around planning decisions with the passing of the Planning Amendment Bill 2021 today.

Planning done well, must consider the context of population growth and the long-term social, environmental and economic needs, and values that underpin the wellbeing and prosperity of our communities now and into the future.

The passed legislation creates:

  • Certainty to residents of The Gardens, by including a provision in the Planning Act 1999 that puts beyond doubt the validity of the decision to refuse the rezoning of 16 and 25 Blake Street, The Gardens (Lots 6907 and 6908, Town of Darwin) from community purposes to a special use zone. This would have facilitated high and medium density residential development, which does not fit with the existing character of The Gardens; and
  • Protects the validity of future decisions by a Minister in relation to planning scheme amendments.

It is important to note these amendments:

  • Only apply to planning scheme amendments and not to development applications. Changes to zoning policy decisions can vary significantly in scale from a small rezoning to a regional land use plan;
  • Do not impede the right to lodge a new rezoning application in relation to 16 and 25 Blake Street, The Gardens; and
  • Transparency of decisions made by the Planning Minister will continue, with the reasons for all decisions still required by the Act to be made publicly available, and the responsible Minister will still be required to consider all relevant matters outlined in the Act.

It is not uncommon to amend an Act retroactively and this approach has been applied in legislation in the Territory, interstate and at the Commonwealth level.

Overall these amendments simply remove the risk of a rezoning decision being challenged on the basis of a perceived defect in the wording of the reasons provided – therefore creating certainty for industry and the community.

Quotes from the Minister for Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics Eva Lawler:

“Projects that bring economic value to the Northern Territory should align with community expectations.

“These amendments will not impede the improved transparency achieved in our recent planning reforms. The proposed changes will not stop a person from seeking judicial review of a Minister’s decision on the basis of other types of potential legal error, nor does it remove the Minister’s obligation to provide reasons for their decision, or to make those reasons available to the public.

“These planning amendments will provide Territorians with greater certainty on decisions made by Government, now and into the future.”

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