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Master planned areas are typically greenfield sites which are to transition from rural, non-urban land to urban land. In some cases, the area may require additional detailed planning in order to facilitate future development. Chapter 4, Planning Partnerships, of the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (SPA) gives provisional powers to the planning minister, the Minister for Regional Planning or a local government to identify areas as a master planned area.

The planning minister must declare a master planned area, and can do so irrespective of whether the land is already an identified master planned area. The minister's declaration commences the formal statutory process for planning and development of the area.

Current declared master planned areas

Changes to the Sustainable Planning Act

Amendments to the Act by the Sustainable Planning and Other Legislation Amendment Act (No 2) 2012, assented to on 22 November 2012, have removed the planning partnership arrangements of master planned areas.

During May and July 2012, local government and industry representatives attended planning reform forums to consult on issues, such as plan making, development assessment, referrals and appeals.

These stakeholders identified a range of regulatory and cultural changes, including the workability of declared master planned areas. These changes informed the proposals presented in the Sustainable Planning and Other Legislation Amendment Act (No. 2) 2012.

Use and development rights established by existing structure plans and master plans for declared master planned areas are protected through transitional provisions.

This means that local governments and industry can still work in partnership on planning and delivery in these areas, but without the cumbersome and process driven regulatory requirements of a declared master planned area.

Planning process for master planned areas

The former Chapter 4 (Planning Partnerships) of the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 gave powers to the minister or a local government to identify areas as a master planned area. The declaration of a master planned area, commenced the formal statutory process for planning of the area. This means that the local government was required to prepare a structure plan for the area.

Structure plans

A structure plan is an integrated land use plan which is intended to set the strategic and broad development framework for future development. It establishes the strategic intent, development patterns, constraints and opportunities and infrastructure requirements.

If the minister declares an area to be a master planned area, the local government is required to prepare a structure plan which forms part of the local government's planning scheme.

The recent changes to SPA mean that structure plans are now required to be transitioned into new planning schemes within three years.

Master plan applications

A master plan application is only required where key areas have been identified within a structure plan as requiring more detailed planning consideration.

The master plan process requires an applicant to submit an application to their relevant local government. This application provides additional detail about how the plan advances the objectives of the structure plan.

Changes to the Sustainable Planning Act protect existing master plan applications and enable them to continue to be assessed and decided against the provisions of the former Chapter 4 of the act. However, no new master plan applications can be made.

Development assessment

Development assessment involves the lodgement of development applications to the relevant local government for review and decision. Development applications are required to be made in accordance with the Integrated Development Assessment System (IDAS) under Chapter 6 of SPA.

In some instances, development applications for a declared master planned area will not be necessary. Applications will not be necessary where the structure plan or a subsequent master plan approval makes certain development types exempt, self-assessable or a matter for compliance assessment.

Further information

For further information, contact the department.