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Regional Plans and Joint Planning Arrangements

Setting the direction for future planning and development of South Australia

A new Regional Planning framework enables local government areas to prepare regional plans that provide direction for the region’s future planning.

Regional Plans will be guided by priorities for the whole state so that we can respond to big opportunities and challenges together. They will also guide the development and updates for the new Planning and Design Code, a planning and design rule book for the whole state.

On 1 July 2019,  Phase One of the new planning system became operational in outback areas, but joint planning arrangements do not apply.

Completed In progress Pending
  • "Identify" existing South Australian Planning Strategies to apply until new Regional Plans are prepared

    Completed April 2020

  • Proclamation of Planning Regions

    Completed March 2020

  • Phase One of the PDI Act 2016 became operational in outback areas

    Completed July 2019

  • Regulations and Code of Conduct completed

    Completed February 2020

  • Finalise Joint Planning Arrangements Toolkit and findings paper

    Completed February 2019

  • Workshops and business case preparation (for ready groups)

    Completed July 2018

  • Develop findings paper for Joint Planning Arrangements and develop draft Joint Planning Arrangements Toolkit

    Completed February 2018

  • Seek confirmation to continue with the project from the 8 Groups of Councils

    Completed January 2018

  • Seek legal and insurance advice

    Completed October 2017

  • Develop draft business case and business plan model for Joint Planning Arrangements in consult with 8 groups of councils

    Completed August 2017

  • Survey 8 groups of councils that lodged an Expression of Interest for Joint Planning Arrangements

    Completed July 2017

  • Initiate ‘Expression of Interest’ process for Joint Planning Arrangements project and Engage Project Coordinator – Joint Planning Arrangements (after tender process)

    Completed May 2017

The PDI Act provides for South Australia to be divided into Planning Regions by Proclamation of the Governor, on the recommendation of the Minister for Planning. This includes the definition of one of the Planning Regions as Greater Adelaide.

The main purpose of a Planning Region is to define the area for Regional Plans over which collaborative arrangements may be established for planning and other relevant service delivery or program areas.

On 19 March 2020 the Governor issued a Proclamation (PDF, 16 KB) constituting the following Planning Regions for South Australia.

  • Greater Adelaide
  • Eyre and Western
  • Far North
  • Kangaroo Island
  • Limestone Coast
  • Murray Mallee
  • Yorke Peninsula and Mid North

The Proclamation also provides a period of three years before a new Regional Plan for each of the Planning Regions is to be prepared and adopted. In the meantime transitional provisions in the PDI Act allow the existing South Australian Planning Strategies to apply until such time as the new Regional Plans are prepared.

In formulating his recommendation the Minister for Planning has:

  • sought to reflect communities of interest at a regional level
  • taken into account council boundaries and other relevant administrative boundaries; relevant economic, social and cultural factors; and relevant environmental factors (including water catchment areas and biogeographical regions)
  • given attention to the need to achieve effective planning consistent with the objects of the PDI Act, and the delivery of infrastructure, government services and other relevant services, at a regional level.

The Minister has also consulted with the State Planning Commission, councils across the State and the Local Government Association.


Provisions in the new legislation provide the opportunity for groups of councils to perform certain functions as a Joint Planning Board (JPB), established by way of a Planning Agreement entered into with the Minister for Planning.

A JPB is a body corporate with its own powers and responsibilities and is constituted in accordance with the terms of the Planning Agreement, which sets out the functions, Board membership and how a JPB is to operate. A JPB has between three to seven members and can form committees (advisory) and subsidiaries (operational) to carry out its functions, and must adhere to a Code of Conduct (PDF, 190 KB).

The only mandated function of a JPB is preparation of a Regional Plan for the area of the Board, although other functions can be undertaken, such as appointing a regional development assessment panel and undertaking the process to make regionally relevant amendments to the Planning and Design Code.

The Minister has adopted a Code of Conduct (PDF, 190 KB) to be observed by members of a Joint Planning Board. The Code of Conduct sets out standards of conduct and professionalism that are to be observed by all members of a JPB.

Regulation 10 of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure (General) Regulations 2017 prescribes the process to be followed if a person believes that a member of a JPB has acted in contravention of the Code of Conduct.

The new legislation requires a Regional Plan to be prepared for each region. These are prepared by a Joint Planning Board in partnership with the councils included on the Board. Where there is no Board, the Commission will prepare the Regional Plan.

A Regional Plan must be consistent with relevant State Planning Policies and include:

  • a long-term vision (over a 15 to 30 year period) for the region or area, including provisions about the integration of land use, transport infrastructure and the public realm
  • maps and plans that relate to the long-term vision
  • contextual information about the region or area, including forward projections and statistical data and analysis as determined by the Commission or required by a Practice Direction
  • recommendations about the application and operation of the Planning and Design Code
  • a framework for the public realm or infrastructure within the region or area.

Regional Plans may be divided into parts relating to sub-regions and may include structure plans, master plans, concept plans or other similar documents. Regional Plans will be used to help guide consideration of any proposed changes for the Planning and Design Code, a single rulebook for the whole state.

Following on from the Governor’s proclamation the State Planning Commission has “identified” that the following South Australian Planning Strategies, prepared under the Development Act 1993, will apply until such time as the new Regional Plans are prepared and adopted.

In 2017 the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure initiated a pilot project to explore how Planning Agreements and JPBs will work, and to prepare guidelines to assist councils that are seeking to form a JPB. Councils were invited to participate in the pilot and 40 councils in eight groups initially participated. This reduced to 29 councils in 6 groups at the start of 2018 when the project moved into stage two - preparation of a business case.

The 6 groups are Eyre Peninsula, Yorke Peninsula, Limestone Coast, Riverland, Barossa and neighbours and the Spencer Gulf cities (the Murraylands and Eastern Region Alliance have maintained watching briefs). The LGA and Office of Local Government have also been involved.

The pilot has concluded and the following guidelines and templates to assist councils to initiate and establish a Planning Agreement and JPB are now available. The Department has also prepared the guidelines and a template to assist JPBs to prepare a Regional Plan.

As an additional outcome of the pilot, the Department is now preparing a number of regulatory amendments to support the Planning Agreement template. A Code of Conduct for JPBs is being finalised along with two Practice Directions to be issued by the Commission - to specify procedural requirements for JPBs preparing a Regional Plan and to specify the appropriate level of information required when Councils submit a proposal to the Minister to enter into a Planning Agreement.


Page last modified Friday, 10 January 2020