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Norman Waterhouse

Local Design Review Scheme


The new Local Design Review Scheme (Scheme) will enable design advice to be sought from an independent panel in respect of locally assessed development proposals. We understand a design review will:

  • be available in councils that ‘opt into’ the Scheme, resulting in particular classes of development being specified in the Planning and Design Code in an upcoming amendment;
  • undertaken on such development proposals prior to lodgement of development application;
  • voluntary for proponents; and
  • advisory in nature.

The Scheme will come into operation on 1 July 2021.

Aim of Scheme

The Scheme has been established to encourage councils to implement a streamlined approach to design review of development. The design review relates to the design quality of proposed developments, including:

  • the form or content of the proposed development;
  • how the proposed development might be changed or improved;
  • other matters that may assist with the assessment of the development; and
  • such other matters as the design panel thinks fit.

Some councils already offer various design advisory services to proponents (including architectural advice services or urban design advice). However, the Scheme aims to provide a more consistent approach for councils to deliver local design reviews.

Scheme Process

Section 121 of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 (Act) enables the Minister for Planning and Local Government to establish the Scheme. Should a council decide to participate in the Scheme, design review will either be undertaken by a design panel appointed by the Council’s Local Design Review Administrator or a recognised Independent Design Review Administrator.

Proponents who seek a design review must apply to the relevant council prior to lodging a development application. The design review comprises advice to both the proponent and the relevant authority. The advice in the design review is to be guided by both the Principles of Design Review and Principles of Good Design as set out in the Scheme.

Section 121(7) of the Act requires that any design advice provided under the Scheme must be considered by the relevant authority when it is undertaking its assessment of the relevant development, insofar as relevant to that assessment.

Council Consideration

Councils should now, to the extent they have not already done so, consider whether to implement the Scheme in their local area. Relevant factors in that consideration may include:

  • a council’s current ability to provide design advice
  • a council’s appetite for development of quality design
  • the volume of developments that may require design advice
  • any foreseeable impact on council financial and staffing resources resulting from participating in the Scheme
  • any additional delegations required to implement the Scheme effectively

Please click on the following link for a more detailed discussion of the operation of the Scheme: Local Design Review Scheme. Should you have any questions in relation to the Scheme, please contact Rebecca McAulay on +61 8 8210 1278 or or Gavin Leydon on +61 8 8210 1225 or

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