Skip to main content

Community Engagement Charter

Providing greater opportunities for South Australians to influence how we live, work and move in our urban and rural areas

In the past, many people’s first interaction with the planning system was when a new house or other form of development was built near them, without an understanding of the planning policy that enabled this to occur.

The new Community Engagement Charter will change this by increasing understanding of the planning system by inviting the community input on planning policies that will shape the places they value.

The Community Engagement Charter is the first of its kind in Australia, putting consultation and participation at the forefront of the planning process. It will establish outcome-based, measurable requirements for engaging community members on proposed changes to planning policy. The Charter will also allow engagement to be tailored to suit the needs of the community.

The Charter will work to put people at the centre of the direction and outcomes for planning strategies and policy and:

  • foster the community’s understanding of the planning system
  • build a framework that is robust and adaptable
  • take an evidence-based approach to engagement
  • provide an example others want to follow.

Relevant entities proposing changes to planning documents known as designated instruments will be required to comply with the Community Engagement Charter. The State Planning Commission will have the authority to give directions to entities, or step in if it considers the entity has failed to meet the standards set in the Charter. The Commission will be responsible for establishing and maintaining the charter, with subsequent amendments subject to the scrutiny of Parliament.


The Stage 1 Discussion Draft of the Charter was released for informal comment in August 2017 and was prepared with significant contribution by a public Planning Together Panel. This Panel was also influenced and guided by the “Practitioner Group” and the more widely represented “Larger Stakeholder Group”.

The feedback received on the Discussion draft has assisted the Commission refine the Charter and build on the work of the Panel. This includes exploring in greater detail implementation measures that will assist authorities in making decisions about how to engage, the community’s role in the engagement process, and how to evaluate the success (or otherwise) of the engagement process.

The two surveys (on the SA Planning Portal and on, 6 practitioner workshops and 28 submissions received during the engagement on the discussion draft also assisted the Commission in preparing the draft Guide which is also now available for comment.

We have been working with three key groups to prepare the draft Charter. These groups include:

  • Planning Together Panel -a randomly selected, statistically representative group of 50 community members who were tasked with developing the draft Charter in collaboration with representatives from the planning sector and other groups with an interest in planning. This group met for four full days over two weekends in July 2017. An outline of the Panel’s work is provided attached.
  • Practitioner Group - a hand-selected group of senior planning professionals (encompassing local and state government, peak bodies and consultants) tasked with providing industry perspective and context for the Panel and ensuring the Charter’s ‘decision-making framework’ is relevant and practical in a strategic planning policy setting. This group met prior to the first Panel session and their advice was considered by the Panel in their deliberations.
  • Broader Stakeholder Group - includes planning practitioners and groups and individuals with an interest in the planning system (around 50 people), who contributed knowledge and experience of the planning system as part of the Panel discussions.

These groups continue to be provided opportunities to input in the Charter and Guide.


On completion of consultation the Commission will collate the feedback into a report for the Minister for Planning, along with the draft Charter and Guide, for endorsement or otherwise.

Over the first 12 months or so, the Charter will primarily be used by the Commission as they develop the designated instruments as set out in the Act. The work entailed in developing the new State Planning Policies and the Planning and Design Code library, as well as the Infrastructure Scheme pilot programs, will be an opportunity for the Charter to be tested and reviewed, allowing the Commission to evolve the document in collaboration with the intended ‘end-users’.

During this time an on-line tool kit will also be developed to enable future users of the Charter to have extra guidance, tools and access to examples of 'best practice'.

Community Engagement Charter development timeline

The PDI Act provides for a new approach to engaging communities in relation to the setting and changing of planning policies and the key planning documents.

The Act sets out a number principles that must be taken into account in developing the Charter that seek to foster and encourage constructive debate, weight engagement towards the early stages of policy-setting, and promote use of plain language and easy-to-access formats.

The Charter will provide the framework for determining how engagement should be conducted, and how its effectiveness should be evaluated at the end of the process, when planning policy documents are being prepared. The framework may specify mandatory requirements that must be followed, or set performance outcomes that are required to be met where mandatory requirements are not appropriate.

The State Planning Commission is legislatively responsible for preparing the Charter and in so doing must prepare a report in consultation with prescribed entities. The report is then made available on the SA Planning Portal for public comment. Following the consideration of any submissions made, the Commission must then present the Charter to the Minister for Planning for approval and adoption. The Minister must then ensure the Charter is laid before both Houses of Parliament for parliamentary scrutiny. An up-to-date copy of the Charter must be published on the SA Planning Portal and available for inspection and downloading at no charge.

Once prepared, the Community Engagement Charter must be used to develop the engagement process associated with the preparation and amendment of the following specific documents in the planning system:

Entities such as the State Planning Commission, Councils, Joint Planning Boards and Government Agencies will be responsible for developing and implementing an engagement strategy in accordance with the Charter when preparing any of the above documents. They will also need to identify the techniques and measures they will employ to evaluate the extent to which the objectives of the Charter have been achieved.

If the Commission considers an entity has not complied with the Charter, it may require that entity to do so, and is not compelled to accept any such document until such time as it is satisfied with the engagement process. If necessary the Commission could undertake the engagement on behalf of the entity and recover the associated costs.

The Charter does not have a statutory role in the assessment of Development Applications. Separate and specific requirements for the public notification of certain classes of development applications are outlined in the PDI Act and the procedures to be followed will be subsequently determined in regulations (yet to be prepared) under the Act (refer s107(3) and s110(2)). However, this does not preclude the principles and the tools associated being applied to engagement in development assessment, provided the specified requirements are met in doing so.

State Planning Policies

  • provide direction for Regional Plans, Planning & Design Code and EISs.

Regional Plans

  • set the long-term vision for an area of the State, and must align with any relevant State Planning Policies.

Design Standards

  • ensure a consistent approach to the design of local infrastructure (eg stormwater, local road construction and lighting).

Establishing and amending the P&D Code (rezonings)

  • set the rules and process for assessing development applications
  • will replace development plans.

Development Assessment

The Charter does not have a statutory role in the assessment of development applications. Separate and specific requirements for the public notification of certain classes of development applications are outlined in the Act and the procedures to be followed will be subsequently determined in regulations (yet to be prepared) under the Act.

The Planning Together Panel of 50 randomly selected community members from all over South Australia met over two weekends in July 2017.

Over this time, they heard from a range of people to better understand the background of the planning reforms and the new processes set out in the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016. The panel members were exposed to a wide range of perspectives from community groups, local and State Government, the development industry and planning practitioners to gain knowledge about what works and what doesn’t in community engagement in planning in our State.

Panelists also heard from the Minister for Planning, members of the new State Planning Commission and department staff to build valuable insights into the purpose of the Charter and types of planning decisions it will apply to.

Over the two weekends, panelists, stakeholders and practitioners worked through a facilitated and deliberative process to define what better community engagement in the planning system could look like, the desired outcomes from which they drafted a series of principles.

The Planning Together Panel also did some early thinking with the stakeholders and practitioners on a framework to define the types of decisions the Charter will apply to and performance measures for the principles.

The Panel provided their report to the State Planning Commission following the second weekend workshop.



Mar 2017
DemocracyCo engaged to develop methodology.

Jun 2017
Practitioner input.

Jul 2017
Compile research report to inform.

Jul 2017
Four panel sessions held with Planning Together Panel to develop guiding principles.

Aug 2017
The Planning Commission releases Draft Stage 1 Charter for further discussion.

Oct 2017
Commission reviews feedback received and revises Draft Stage 1 Charter to prepare for release.

Nov 2017
Draft Charter commences six weeks formal consultation.
  Charter officially commences.
  First edition charter released. Minister for Planning tables Charter in Parliament.
  Test the Charter during the development and implementation of the new designated instruments.
  Refine the Charter, if required. Ongoing feedback and refinement.


To learn more about the Community Engagement Charter e-mail

Page last modified Friday, 8 December 2017