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Planning schemes are prepared by local governments to manage growth and change in their local government area. Planning schemes must coordinate and integrate the matters they deal with, and also the state and regional dimensions of those matters expressed through regional plans and state planning policies.

Local government IPA schemes replace the transitional planning schemes prepared under the repealed Local Government (Planning and Environment) Act 1990.

A planning scheme:

  • outlines the desired outcomes sought for the local government area as a whole and for particular localities
  • allocates land for different uses, including residential growth areas, having regard to a range of considerations
  • coordinates and integrates infrastructure and land use planning, and indicates the location of existing and proposed community infrastructure
  • identifies areas or places that constrain the use of land due to their environmental value, resource value or their adverse effects on development
  • identifies the kind of development that requires approval (assessable development) or that can be carried out without approval if certain requirements are met (self-assessable development)
  • specifies the development standards or criteria for assessing the suitability of a development proposal.

Key elements

Desired environmental outcomes

Provide the foundation of the scheme. Desired environmental outcomes (DEOs) express the purpose of the planning scheme and what it seeks to achieve. They cover a broad range of issues such as community needs, economic activity and nature conservation.


Identify broad land use allocations, areas with special attributes, and major infrastructure. Planning schemes are also intended to include plans for growth and infrastructure provision.

'Zone' is a common term given to the broad land use allocations in the planning scheme. For example: residential, business or recreation zones. The term 'overlay' is often used for identified special attributes of land that are sensitive to the effects of development or may constrain development due to an environmental hazard or the value of a resource.

Development assessment tables

Usually identify:

  • the assessment category (assessable, self-assessable or exempt) that applies to development in a particular zone or affected by an overlay
  • the assessment criteria, including applicable codes, that are relevant to particular development
  • whether code assessment or impact assessment is required for assessable development.

Development assessment criteria

Are the criteria or standards for achieving the outcomes sought from self-assessable or assessable development. Codes may address a specific type of development (for example: reconfiguring a lot), a type of use (for example: home business) or may relate to an identified zone or overlay.