Open Space and Trees Project

The State Planning Commission has initiated the ‘Open Space and Trees Project’ to better understand the use and benefits of open space and trees in an urban context, and the impact of infill development on our urban tree canopy.

The Project aims to provide the Commission with a suitable evidence base to inform planning policy review relating to open space and trees in urban contexts.

The issues and opportunities to be considered within the Project include:

  • the impact of climate change and the ‘urban heat effect’
  • open space and urban greening policy and its contemporary relevance
  • loss of urban trees as a result of infill development
  • the potential imbalance between the value of regulated and significant trees, and the penalties which apply for their removal
  • inappropriate tree species included (or excluded) as regulated and significant trees.

The Project will be undertaken in three parts:

Part 1: Review trees that are exempt from regulated tree controls and quantify an appropriate off-set contribution for the removal of regulated and significant trees.

Part 2: Undertake a comprehensive review of regulated and significant tree regulations and legislative measures.

Part 3: Review the impact of infill development and the operation of the Commission’s ‘infill tree policy’ within the Planning and Design Code following 12 months of operation, with reference to the new Urban Tree Canopy Off-set Scheme, This review includes the fees set under the Scheme and the spatial application of the Scheme.

Additionally, as part of the preparation of the new 30-Year Plan for Greater Adelaide, commencing in 2022, the Commission will review the tree canopy target in light of data and methodologies available, and further investigate how the planning and development system can further urban greening outcomes.

Project progress

During 2021, a desktop review of the regulatory tree controls identified in Part 1 of the Project was undertaken by the Attorney-General’s Department, Planning and Land Use Services (PLUS).

In order to finalise Part 1 of the project, a more detailed analysis of tree species exemptions will be undertaken in consultation with the Department for Environment and Water, the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, and Green Adelaide.

Part 1 of the Project will also see a PhD researcher in environmental management engaged to prepare a detailed Options Analysis Paper for tree valuation methods, which will help to inform future regulatory reform options.

Next steps

A broader review of regulated and significant tree regulations (Part 2 of the Project) is programmed for 2022, but this will be subject to further consideration by the Minister for Planning.

Any proposed changes to regulations resulting from the Project will be the subject of community and industry consultation. Further analysis (including a regulatory impact assessment) might also be required to support any changes.