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About the Commission

South Australia’s principal planning advisory and development assessment body


The State Planning Commission has been established as the state’s independent, principal planning body that provides advice and makes recommendations on the administration of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016.

The State Planning Commission guides decision-making of state government, local government and community and business organisations with respect to planning, development and infrastructure provisions in South Australia.

The Commission was established on 1 April 2017 with the commencement of new planning Act.


The Commission comprises four members with widespread expertise in planning, urban design, construction, economics and public policy and an ex officio representative from the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI).

Members are appointed by the Governor, on the recommendation of the Minister for Planning. The Commission’s inclusion of one ex officio member from DPTI assists the Commission in its administration of the new Act.

On 5 October 2018, Mr Michael Lennon was appointed to the position of Chairperson of the Commission following the resignation of former Supreme Court Justice Mr Tim Anderson QC who had held the position since 7 March 2017.

Assisting the Chairperson is Mr Allan Holmes, Ms Helen Dyer and Mr Craig Holden. Ms Sally Smith, the DPTI General Manager, Planning and Development is appointed as the ex officio member.

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The State Planning Commission will ensure that a high benchmark in both public integrity and contemporary land use planning in Australia is achieved as a result of the new Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016.

In view of this, one of the first orders of business for the Commission is to establish its strategic governance framework and operating procedures. Indeed, during its first year of operation the Commission will have a focus of the following aspects to enable it to administer its duties and responsibilities under the PDI Act through 2017 and beyond:

  • the expectation for the Commission in its first year of operations
  • establishment of the Commission’s Charter, operating procedures and delegations
  • establishment of the Commission’s assessment sub-committee and sub-committee structure

The Minister has adopted a code of conduct (PDF, 173 KB) to be observed by members of the State Planning Commission. The code of conduct sets out standards of conduct and professionalism that are to be observed by all members of the State Planning Commission.

Regulation 9 of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure (General) Regulations 2017 prescribes the process to be followed if a person believes that a member of the Commission has acted in contravention of the code of conduct.

Much of the work undertaken by the Commission will be guided by the ‘principles of good planning’ outlined in the new legislation. Under these principles, the Commission’s work will:

  • have a long-term focus
  • be innovative and able to respond to emerging challenges and opportunities
  • encourage the renewal of existing suburbs to reduce our urban footprint
  • support high quality design which is accessible to people with differing needs and capabilities
  • promote the use of walking and cycling trails
  • support the liveability of suburbs through increased vegetation and more open space
  • facilitate investment in the development industry
  • promote the development of public transport of all types near suburbs, shopping and service areas and workplaces
  • promotes cooperation and integration between and among State Government agencies and local government.

To achieve this, the Commission will help the Minister and DPTI to create a planning system that:

  • is easily understood and consistent
  • enables people to digitally access planning information and undertake processes and transactions
  • promotes certainty for those proposing to undertake development
  • provides scope for innovation
  • promotes safe and efficient construction practices
  • provides financial schemes that support development and that can be used to capitalise on investment opportunities
  • promotes cooperation and integration between and among State Government agencies and local government.

The State Planning Commission will have a pivotal role in ensuring a smooth transition from the current system under the Development Act 1993 to the new system under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016.

The Commission is responsible for the development, delivery and ongoing management of many key elements of the new system which is why it was necessary to ensure it was able to commence operation as soon as possible after various sections of the PDI Act became live on 1 April 2017.

One of the first orders of business for the Commission was to determine its priorities to support the implementation of the new planning system. 

It is important to note that although the Commission has now commenced, much of the planning system will operate as ‘Business as Usual’ under the Development Act 1993 until further notice. This includes the assessment of all development applications made under the Development Act.

The State Planning Commission Annual Report is presented to Parliament to meet the statutory reporting requirements of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 and also the requirements of Premier and Cabinet Circular PC013 Annual Reporting.

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The workload of the State Planning Commission will be significant in its first two to three years of operation as the elements of the new system are established and the planning instruments become operational.

Included in this are key responsibilities within the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 to lead planning policies, ensure genuine engagement with our community and effective delivery of the Planning and Design Code. In addition, the Commission will help focus future developments in a coordinated manner with the required and appropriate infrastructure provisions and provide guidance to local councils, practitioners and other users of the system in the delivery of a new planning services.

These core strategic initiatives are outlined in the Commission’s Strategic Plan 2019-2020.

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The State Planning Commission will ensure that a high benchmark in both public integrity and contemporary land use planning in Australia is achieved as a result of the new Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016.

A full suite of its policies and procedures; meeting arrangements; code of conduct and operating procedures (including meeting agendas and minutes) is available from the Governance Manual link below.

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The Commission’s charter is to act in the best interests of all South Australians, promoting the principles outlined in the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 to encourage state-wide economic growth and support liveability.

The Commission reports directly to the Minister for Planning and is responsible for:

  • delivery of the new planning system and management of its instruments leading the development of planning policies that are informed by genuine engagement with our community
  • ensuring future development is coordinated with the provision of public transport, roads, services and open space
  • guiding councils and professionals in the delivery of new planning services
  • providing advice and recommendations on government planning policy
  • analysing and assessing upcoming development projects
  • coordinating planning with infrastructure and guidance
  • guiding local council and accredited professionals in the delivery of new planning services and community engagement.

The Commission will operate with the support of the Department for Planning, Transport and Infrastructure, which will provide professional and technical expertise, administrative services and corporate resources, to assist in the performance of its functions.

The Commission will have a core role to play in guiding the implementation of the state’s planning system over the next three years. In particular, they will lead the following specific aspects of the new planning system:

  • establishing and maintaining a number of new legislative instruments outlined in the new planning Act including the Community Engagement Charter, Planning and Design Code and Design Standards for the public realm and for infrastructure
  • review of the general infrastructure scheme
  • preparing a Regional Plan for each planning region where no Joint Planning Board exists
  • Development Assessment of prescribed classes of development
  • providing advice about funding programs available for planning or development within the state
  • undertaking and publishing relevant research and providing reports as requested by the Minister or determined by the Commission.

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In addition to guiding the development of a new planning system, the State Planning Commission is progressing a range of projects that consider the future needs and growth of South Australia.

One of these exciting new initiatives is the development of the Metropolitan Growth Management Program (MGM).

The MGM seeks to aid the development of an efficient and sustainable pattern of settlement by utilising population projections, land consumption trends and infrastructure capacity to provide a 10 year program that identifies

  • projected development demand (greenfield, minor infill, major infill, industrial and employment lands)
  • the development supply options
  • the infrastructure capacity of regions
  • the need for new growth precincts.

Land and development opportunities available in the right place and at the right time provides certainty to the property industry, stabilises land markets and supports population growth. The timely provision of infrastructure helps to nurture healthy communities and the coordinated delivery of services.

The MGM program will be informed by the Regional Plan (30 Year Plan for Greater Adelaide - 2017 Update) and will in turn help to guide amendments to the Planning and Design Code. It will provide data and information to help facilitate the release of new land and identify new growth areas in a timely fashion to enable the coordinated and cost efficient provision of infrastructure.

The first stage of the MGM is a Southern Pilot in partnership with the City of Onkaparinga, which will help inform futures stages of an MGM program for metropolitan Adelaide.

The MGM program is an indication of the kind of policy reform and land use projects that the Commission will be leading in the future in response to societal changes based on evidence, research and data.

The State Planning Commission together with the Office for Ageing Well, the University of South Australia (UniSA) along with the Cities of Unley, Burnside, Prospect and Walkerville is working in partnership on a Co-Housing Project to test what housing options might be possible in response to the needs of older residents. The project will undertake four detailed design studies focusing on new opportunities for existing housing.

A significant number of older residents face few choices to ‘downsize’ in their current neighbourhood when their housing no longer suits their needs or when they wish to avoid living alone.

This project, significant in its scope and broad in its application, will for the first time explore a major gap in housing opportunities – the ‘missing middle’ of Adelaide’s older suburbs. The project is in response to recent demographic data that illustrates by 2036 that one in three households in South Australia is anticipated to have just one occupant, many of whom will be over the age of 65.

The project will investigate how existing older houses in Adelaide might be altered and extended to create one or more additional dwellings on an existing site to create socially cohesive co-housing arrangements for older residents wishing to stay in their own home – often referred to as ‘ageing in place’.

A hypothetical example to help illustrate a possible co-housing scenario is the story of Ron; a South Australian resident for 46 years. Ron’s wife passed away last year, and although Ron wants to stay, he finds it difficult to keep up with the maintenance of the large house and garden. Ron would like to share his property by building and renting a small unit in the rear of his property. The person renting could assist Ron with household duties and yard maintenance, they could share a meal regularly or work together on a vegetable patch. In this way, the project assists not only older people, but also those looking for reduced rent options or to better connect with their community.

A key outcome of this study is to inform the development of the new Planning and Design Code, set to replace all South Australian Development Plans by mid-2020.

The State Planning Commission undertakes a wide range of engagement activities to ensure planning reforms and broader policy initiatives are communicated to councils, community groups and peak industry bodies.

In 2018-19 the Commission, together with the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure, received more than 1000 submissions on the planning reform program, conducted over 150 engagement events and travelled more than 45,000 kilometres to ensure regional audiences are informed of state-wide planning changes.

Recent highlights of the Commission’s engagement activities can be viewed below.

Throughout 2019, the Commission has conducted a quarterly briefing series to assist Local Government elected members’ understanding of the new planning system and to help address concerns raised by their constituents.

At the February briefings, the Commission discussed the phased delivery of the new planning system and the conversion of council development plans. A copy of the presentation from the workshop (PPT, 5688 KB) is now available.

At the May briefings, the Commission discussed the state’s population growth, design quality and proposed policy on heritage and character. A copy of the presentation from the workshop (PPT, 9568 KB) is now available.

At the September briefings, the Commission discussed the proposed changes to renewable energy policies, people and neighbourhoods discussion paper, improvements to the quality of residential infill, retail roundtable, industrial land supply, and consultation on the draft Planning and Design Code. A copy of the presentation (PPT, 17300 KB) is now available along with a video of the briefing.

In 2018 the Commission convened a Community Panel, consisting of 50 South Australians covering a broad range of demographics from across the state. This panel participated in a full day workshop to review the draft State Planning Policies. The Community Panel is expected to reconvene to review the draft Planning and Design Code.

This year the Commission has been invited to speak at a range of public forums hosted by the Community Alliance, as well as the Hahndorf Community Group, Adelaide and Bragg Heritage Forums and Mitcham Historical Society amongst others.

The Commission is hosting a Community Leaders Briefing in September 2019 prior to the release of the draft Planning and Design Code on public consultation in October. A range of forums involving community members will also be conducted during the Code consultation period.

The Commission regularly hosts workshops, attended by a range of industry and business bodies, to investigate and progress different aspects of planning and development, including:

Tertiary Education

Set against a backdrop of declining tertiary planning students and the closure of undergraduate planning courses, the Commission hosted a forum with university and professional sector leaders in March 2019 to discuss the challenges and opportunities associated with educating future generations of planners in South Australia.

Residential Infill

In June 2019 the State Planning Commission convened a residential infill forum to hear from industry experts involved in the development of residential infill housing across Adelaide. This forum was intended to assist the Commission’s understanding of the build process in terms of delivering a housing product, and to discuss possible improvements to residential infill policy.

Retail

A roundtable was held in August 2019 to provide retail representatives with an opportunity to gain an understanding of how planning reforms will affect retail and centre development, to share their knowledge of the current trends and issues facing the retail sector and to look at how planning can enable retail growth.

The State Planning Commission welcomes the opportunity to present at conferences and committees to provide advice and updates on planning reform and policy initiatives. So far this year the Commission has undertaken a broad range of speaking opportunities at various events, including:

  • Australian Housing Researchers Conference
  • PIA State Conference
  • Australian Institute of Conveyancers SA State Conference
  • UDIA State Conference
  • Building Communities Forums
  • PCA Planning Committee
  • 202020 Vision
  • Shaping Green Adelaide
  • SA Heritage Council
  • Infrastructure SA
  • HIA Planning Committee
  • Climate Change Council
  • SA Major Projects Conference