Planning and Design Code


A travesty of public policy and community engagement

The State Government’s draft Planning and Design Code was released in an ill-formed and incomplete state in October 2019. Since then the general public and community groups have had limited opportunity to fully comprehend, comment upon and receive feedback as to the justification for significant planning changes contained within the Code.

Despite the recent release of the Engagement Report on Phase 2 (rural) of the Code and the ‘What we have heard’ Report on Phase 3 (metropolitan), the public continues to be studiously ignored in the formulation of many of the important aspects of the new planning policy for the State. This is in direct contravention of the statutory Community Engagement Charter in the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act introduced in 2016.

On the other hand, the property, building, construction and development industries have been privy to and deeply involved in the formulation, structure and content of the Code. The Code has been drafted to a prescription they wrote years ago.

The pivotal role of the industry lobby in the new planning system was revealed in a letter from the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) on October 7, 2016 to the then Planning Minister John Rau. The letter outlined the UDIA’s requirements for a revised status for heritage items under the new system. They included the elimination of Contributory Items (in Norwood we have no listed CIs per se), weakened demolition protections, neglect of character streetscapes and the removal of accreditation requirements for property assessment ‘experts’.

The ‘Minister’s Liaison Group’ is a peak body providing advice on the Code to Planning Minister Knoll. Along with State and Local Government members, it comprises representatives of industry authorities, developers and investment bankers. There is no involvement of heritage, environment or community groups.

The UDIA has been a key player in the planning reform process. On December 8, 2019 it issued a written directive to the Minister stating:
‘……..ongoing dialogue between the State Planning Commission (SPC), Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI), the Minister and the UDIA will provide the clearest and most direct pathway to addressing issues with the roll-out of a new planning system.’  – No room for the public here!
Along with a re-iteration of its earlier ‘advice’ to remove Contributory Items, the UDIA has promoted or contributed significant input into the draft Code including but not limited to:
•             Facilitating infill development.
•             Close engagement of Industry and the private sector in the Code.
•             Restricted public notification of development applications for residents.

It is no surprise, therefore, that these industry requirements have been included in the Code documentation, almost to the letter, whilst public concerns go unheeded.
Yet another example of the very close relationship between industry, key Government planning agencies and the Minister, was a study tour to the UK brokered and organised by the UDIA. The tour group which spent eight days travelling, meeting, dining and sightseeing together in April 2019 comprised the Planning Minister, the Chair of the State Planning Commission, senior DPTI officials and a cross section of industry representatives – but no advocates for the environment, heritage or the community.

Given the close ties between industry, the Government and its planning agencies, it is easy to understand the bias towards developers in the formulation and planned implementation of the Code. However, this comes at the expense of genuine public consultation and engagement and with disregard for widespread community concerns about the future of our built and natural environment.

The new reports reveal the sham of public consultation around a Code that was offered for public comment in a complicated, poorly articulated form, that even experts could not fully understand. Buried in the lengthy report on Phase 2 consultation is the fact that 60% of those responding to a survey felt that the engagement process was not fit for purpose. And that is only from those who did participate. Many more were unable to effectively access or consider the changes being proposed because of the inadequacy of materials made available.

It is all the more important, now, to force a deferment of the Code implementation to allow these disturbing issues to be resolved and ensure that proper consultation occurs on the sweeping changes to planning rules being slipped through under the Code. The Planning Department’s lip service to consultation and engagement has effectively excluded the public from meaningful participation in these changes. This must not continue.

As it stands, the Planning & Design Code will threaten the integrity of Norwood’s Historic Conservation and Character Zones, which have been well protected by clear, comprehensive NPSP Council policy since the mid 1990s, but which will no longer apply under the new Code.
Changes in land use controls now envisage existing non-complying uses such as crash repairs and service stations permitted alongside residences and developments up to six storeys allowed on school sites and along main corridors.
If you want the community’s voice to be heard, we urge you to write to, or email members of the two Parliamentary Committees who will be examining the Code and considering the Protect our Heritage petition. Please ask them to heed the views of the public on the deficiencies of the draft Code and the mishandling of public consultation around it. You can find contact details for the members of the two Committees here.

Now is the time to escalate our efforts to force a review of the Code by political lobbying and through Parliamentary processes.


Write to Premier Steven Marshall and demand that the Planning & Design Code is deferred and genuine public consultation is undertaken on the changes it proposes. (To help guide your thoughts, see the sample letter provided by Protect our Heritage Alliance and questions for MPs drafted by Community Alliance).
Hon Steven Marshall – Premier & Member for Dunstan
Telephone: 08 8363 9111 or 8463 3166, Facsimile: 8463 3168
Postal Address: Unit 2 90-94 The Parade, NORWOOD SA 5067

This message utilises information provided by Professor Warren Jones AO, Convenor of the Protect Our Heritage Alliance. This group is a coalition of concerned organisations and individuals, working to protect our built and natural environment and to which our Norwood Residents’ Association belongs. 
To contact Warren Jones:
Phone: 0419 852 622      Email:


Thank you for your support.

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