Key Points:

It will be easier in the ACT to do minor developments which are of no significance to a heritage property's existing heritage values.

The ACT Government has made amendment to the Planning and Development Regulations 2008 which modifies the standard provisions for the exemption of minor development on heritage properties from the need to apply for a development approval in certain circumstances.

The Planning and Development Amendment Regulation 2015 (No 1), which commenced on 22 September 2015, aims to reduce red tape and decrease regulatory burden where minor development is proposed to be undertaken on heritage properties which are of no significance to the existing heritage values.

Reduced red tape and regulatory burden

The Explanatory Statement provides that the purpose of the regulation amendment is to:

  • reduce an unnecessary regulatory burden on owners of heritage properties;
  • make more consistent the regulatory treatment of heritage property owners and non-heritage property owners;
  • make the development assessment process for heritage properties more efficient; and
  • maintain an appropriate level of protection for places or objects on the ACT Heritage Register.

Prior to this amendment, an owner of a heritage property was required to apply for a development approval for development even if that development did not affect the heritage values of the property and would have been exempt under the Planning and Development Regulations from requiring development approval if undertaken on non-heritage property (standard exemption provisions).

Consequently, even where development was of little or no significance for the purposes of the Heritage Act (ACT) or development assessment under the Planning Act (ACT), it still required to be assessed by the Planning and Land Authority and, on referral, by the ACT Heritage Council, for approval.

Effect of the amendment

Essentially, the amendment will allow the standard exemption provisions to apply to heritage properties provided that the proposed development will not affect the heritage values of the property.

Under a new section in the Planning and Development Regulation, development that is to be undertaken at a place or on an object in the ACT Heritage Register or under a heritage agreement might be exempt from requiring development approval if the ACT Heritage Council provides written advice to the Planning and Land Authority that, if carried out, that development:

  • will not diminish the heritage significance of the place or object;
  • is in accordance with heritage guidelines;
  • is in accordance with a conservation management plan approved by the ACT Heritage Council;
  • is in accordance with a permit to excavate; or
  • is an activity described in a statement of heritage effect approved by the ACT Heritage Council.