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Norman Waterhouse

Local Design Review Scheme Code Amendment open for Consultation

The Local Design Review Scheme (Scheme) is closer to full implementation with public consultation on the proposed Local Design Review Scheme Code Amendment (Code Amendment) open as of 12 August 2021, closing on 27 September 2021.

The proposed amendment to Part 5 Table 2 of the Planning and Design Code (Code) represents the final step towards establishing the Scheme under section 121 of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 (Act).


The Scheme was approved by the Minister for Planning and Local Government (Minister) in February this year, coming into effect on 1 July 2021. It enables a person who is considering undertaking development of a class specified by the Code to apply to a local design panel, established by the relevant participating council, for advice on design aspects of the proposed development.

Councils may participate in the Scheme on an ‘opt-in’ basis by registering in accordance with the Scheme. Any advice given by the local design panel is to be taken into account by the relevant authority (insofar as it is relevant to the development application being assessed), pursuant to section 121(7) of the Act.

We have previously covered the details of the Scheme in the following article.

Code Amendment

The Code Amendment gives effect to section 121(1) of the Act by specifying that the Scheme relates to:

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And further that:

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The effect of this is that councils which have registered to participate in the Scheme may nominate the classes of development (within the broader categorisations of restricted or performance assessed development) that they wish to make available for review.

Eligible classes of development

The State Planning Commission has provided a suggested list of the classes of development that participating councils may wish to make the subject of the Scheme, available at Annexure B of the consultation document. Such classes may be general in application or apply to specific zones or overlays.

The suggested general classes of development include:

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Other suggested eligible classes, specific to certain zones or overlays, include:

  • Any building (except an ancillary building) proposed within the Historic Area Overlay, Character Area Overlay, Local Heritage Place Overlay, Heritage Adjacency Overlay, Hills Face Zone, and Significant Landscape Protection Overlay;
  • Development utilising incentives in ‘Significant Development Sites’ policy in the Urban Corridor (Boulevard) Zone, Urban Corridor (Main Street) Zone, Urban Corridor (Living) Zone, and Urban Corridor (Business) Zone;
  • Buildings with a gross leasable floor area exceeding 1000m2 within Activity Centres;
  • Land division proposing more than 20 additional allotments and land division involving the creation of a public road or public open space within the Master Planned Neighbourhood Zone and the Master Planned Township Zone;
  • Any building which is visible from the primary street frontage (except an ancillary building) within the Suburban Main Street Zone and Township Main Street Zone; and
  • Affordable housing within the Affordable Housing Overlay.

It is envisaged that a participating council will specify the eligible classes of development when registering for the Scheme.

Considerations for councils

The Code Amendment, if adopted, will only impact on participating councils. Registering to participate in the Scheme is entirely voluntary. Councils should consider, to the extent that they have not already done so, the potential benefits and associated resource implications of implementing the Scheme in their local area.

The content of the Code Amendment once adopted, and the suggested eligible classes of development impacted by the Code Amendment, should be considered by any councils seeking to participate in the Scheme. Councils should bear in mind that, by participating in the Scheme, the relevant authority will be obliged to consider the results of an application for design review, although the weight given to this will depend on its relevance to the development application and remain a matter entirely within the discretion of the relevant authority.

For more specific information on any of the material contained in this article please contact Gavin Leydon on +61 8 8210 1225 or, or Nicholas Munday on +61 8 8217 1381 or

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