Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 12 November 2009) . . Page.. 4942 ..
The Planning and Development Bill which was introduced in 2007 provided the capacity to make refinements in light of changing circumstances and with the benefit of having used the legislation “in the field”. The government closely monitored the operations of the act during its initial implementation phase. We listened to industry and the community and made a number of priority modifications by regulation to respond quickly to issues identified and to address emerging initiatives. These modifications were made permanent through the Planning and Development Amendment Act 2009. In presenting the bill for that act earlier this year, I made the following point:
The government’s commitment to planning reform is ongoing and I take this opportunity to advise the Assembly that the government is giving consideration to further amendments to the Planning and Development Act later this year.
The exposure draft of this bill includes those further amendments. The amendments in this draft are not preceded by regulation modifications. This is why they were not incorporated into the earlier amendment act.
I will now highlight some of the more significant provisions of the bill and, in doing so, refer to a number of specific clauses. Clauses 6 and 7 permit technical variations to be made to the territory plan to improve its clarity of language or to remove redundant provisions. This provision will enable minor language refinements to be made quickly and easily to maintain the accessibility and readability of the territory plan.
Clauses 9, 10, 11 and 14 apply to the process for assessment of development applications. The new sections confirm that, while an application might require assessment of a new building and the proposed use of the building, the application does not require reassessment of the existing use of land if that use was already authorised by an existing lease. This provision further underlines the basic principle that development applications do not require the revisiting of already authorised lawful use of land.
Clause 18 confirms the procedural implications of a call-in of a development application by the planning minister. This clause makes it clear that a call-in of a development application does not stop the completion of public notification and agency referral steps. These steps can only be halted by a call-in if the minister expressly elects to do so.
Clause 39 is one of the more significant clauses in this bill. In summary, the clause requires lessees to not leave the land unused for a period of 12 months or more and that the land must be used for a lease-authorised purpose at least once every 12 months. There are, however, a number of significant exceptions to this requirement. This requirement will not apply to residences and will not apply to leases that cannot be used pending the construction of new buildings. If the lease authorises multiple uses, activation of just one of these will satisfy this requirement.
A breach of this requirement is, in effect, a breach of the lease and could result in compliance action such as the issuing of a controlled activity notice requiring