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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.

On 1 July 2019,  Phase One of the new planning system became operational in outback areas. The Community Engagement Charter must be used when initiating an amendment to an operational statutory instrument.

Completed In progress Pending

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.


  • 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.

Engagement and New Assessment Pathways

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

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 (PDF, 1102 KB) 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 were 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.

Page last modified Thursday, 9 January 2020