Supporting Jobs: Planning Changes to Keep Approvals and Work Running

The Territory Labor Government is making it easier to do business in the Northern Territory with amendments made to planning rules and approvals during the coronavirus pandemic.

It is critical that the Territory can respond to the health and operational needs of Territorians as well as the economic crisis.

That is why we have implemented exceptions and amendments related to:

  • Hours of operation for food and retail businesses;
  • Medical and health facilities;
  • Working from home; and
  • Projects related to the Jobs Rescue and Recovery Plan.

The Northern Territory planning rules have been temporarily lifted so that there will be no need for the lodgement of an application for almost all works under the Planning Act 1999 before getting a building permit, to start construction on projects related to the Business Improvement Scheme and Home Improvement Scheme.

This means works can start as soon as the voucher is approved – shaving two to eight weeks of gaining a planning approval, allowing work to start immediately.

It has also been announced today that a national agreement has been reached to ensure planning approvals maintain their usual pace throughout the COVID-19 pandemic that will protect jobs, businesses and the economy now, and into the future.

Planning Ministers from every jurisdiction have agreed to a set of principles on how our planning systems should operate during this time, which include:

  • Making decisions in the public’s interest;
  • Transparency for stakeholders about system changes and decisions; and
  • Consideration of the level of public interest and continued opportunity for community consultation through new forms of communication that recognise physical distancing requirements.

Planning Ministers agreed to review the principles in June 2020 to ensure they are still supporting the economic recovery efforts.

The impact of COVID-19 means swift changes to planning regimes are necessary to ensure development applications can still be approved at their usual pace, and other planning regulations amended to deal with the twin health and economic crises.

The Northern Territory Planning Response to COVID-19 Fact Sheet is attached and will be available at

As noted by the Minister for Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics, Eva Lawler:

“The Territory Labor Government is focussed on saving jobs and supporting local businesses.

“Making changes to the Territory’s planning rules means works get underway quicker and we keep people employed during this critical time.

“These new planning measures support the Territory Labor Government’s Jobs Rescue and Recovery plans for business.”

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