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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.

A major inclusion in the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016, is the Community Engagement Charter. The Act places the emphasis on engaging communities early, when the rules, such as the Planning and Design Code and other regulatory instruments are being developed rather than at the later stages of the planning process when it may be too late to influence outcomes.

This ensures that people and communities have a greater opportunity to “have a say” in developing planning policy for our state.

Public focus groups and ongoing consultation shaped the Charter’s five engagement principles.

Those participating told us that they wanted engagement that is:

  • genuine
  • inclusive and respectful
  • fit for purpose
  • informed and transparent
  • reviewed and improved.

Councils and state government must design engagement strategies that meet these principles and tailor engagement to the needs of the community and the characteristics of the project. The Charter now makes sure that planners and developers gather input early and more widely from other stakeholders and our communities.

Traditional engagement tools used alongside new technologies will be encouraged.

Measuring, reporting and reviewing the performance of public engagement is also a key requirement of the Charter.

The State Planning Commission is responsible for reviewing and maintaining the Charter and has the authority to determine whether compliance with the Charter principles have been met prior to decisions being made.


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.


Over the first 12 months or so, the Charter will primarily be used by the Commission as they develop the new State Planning Policies and the Planning and Design Code library, as well as the Infrastructure Scheme pilot programs. This 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'.

The State Planning Commission has developed the Charter by listening to a range of community, industry, councils and state bodies about its important features. The Commission Engagement Report is available for Download.

There has been three phases of engagement for the Community Engagement Charter with members of the public being a part of the development of the Charter from the very beginning:

  • Stage 1 Pre-Engagement – Planning Together Panel, stakeholder Groups and the practitioner panel worked to inform the preparation of the Discussion Draft of the Community Engagement Charter.
  • Stage 2 Discussion Draft – The Commission released the Discussion Draft for comment from the Community and Stakeholder Groups including Councils from 28 August 207 to 6 October 2017. The Consultation Phase 1 Report was then released and made available on the SA Planning Portal..
  • Stage 3 Consultation Draft – The Commission released the Draft Community Engagement Charter and the Guide for a formal 6 weeks consultation from 30 October 2017 to 8 December 2017.

A total of 67 submissions received during two formal consultation periods from a range of councils, individuals, industry and other key stakeholder groups. Comments were also received through a number of workshops.

The Commission will review the performance of the Charter and Guide as it tests it in the delivery of the new planning system for South Australia. The Commission can amend the Charter at any time and must review it every five years.

  • 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.
  • The Planning and Design Code will replace current development plans.
  • Design Standards ensure a consistent approach to the design of local infrastructure (eg stormwater, local road construction and lighting).
  • Infrastructure Delivery Scheme will set the rules and process for assessing development applications.

It is important that assessment processes within the new planning system provide certainty, consistency, timeliness and minimal risk of appeal, particularly where development outcomes meet the rules established through early engagement.

The Charter does not have a statutory role in the assessment of development applications, and the procedures to be followed for public notification and the invitation of feedback on development proposals outlined in the Act are to be determined by regulation. These vary across the different assessment pathways within the new planning system.

The planning process and visioning for areas will influence planning rules and how they may apply at the local level. Linking the planning rules to the vision requires genuine engagement. The community would therefore be informed about the planning rules applying to them and their surroundings and an understanding about what form future developments may take.

The new assessment pathways provide engagement scaled to the possible impacts of development as shown below.

The principles of good community engagement as set out in the Charter will be considered when the regulations for development assessment are determined especially for the assessment of impact assessed developments as these application are not limited to the assessment of the planning rules.

Development Assessment LevelEngagement Required

Exempt Development
(No assessment)


Accepted Development
(Building rules assessment only)


Code Assessed Development – Deemed to satisfy
(Set out in the Planning and Design Code)
E.g. a house in a residential zone


Code Assessed Development – Performance Assessed
(Set out in the Planning and Design Code)

Notification of adjoining land owners and notice on land unless exempt by Code

Impact Assessed Restricted Development
(Set out in the Planning and Design Code)

Notification of adjoining land owners, others affected, public notice, notice on land (unless Commission dispenses)

Impact Assessed Development
(Set out by regulations)

Public notice, written submissions, and additional consultation as required by the Minister

Impact Assessed Development
(Minister declares by notice in Gazette / SA Planning Portal)

Public notice, written submissions, and additional consultation as required by the Minister

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.



Charter developed by the State Planning Commission through three stages of engagement.

Jan 2018
Minister for Planning approves the Charter and it takes effect by being published on the SA Planning Portal.
2018 Commission prepares Practice Direction and online toolkit.
2018 Education program for practitioners commences.
2018 Test the Charter during the development and implementation of the new designated instruments.
2018 Refine the Charter, if required. Ongoing feedback and refinement.


To learn more about the Community Engagement Charter e-mail

Page last modified Friday, 16 March 2018