Planning Reform

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Land use planning is needed to create built and natural environments that support great lifestyles and strong communities. The planning system guides how land can be used. It sets the direction for sustainable and orderly development to meet the demands of a growing population.

The Northern Territory (NT) Government is responding to calls from industry and the community to deliver better planning outcomes, restore community confidence, and to encourage new investment, by improving the planning system.

A review of the planning system (known as planning reform) is currently underway.

This includes changes to the Planning Act 1999 and the NT Planning Scheme.

Read below to find out about the planning reform process.

Draft Northern Territory Planning Scheme 2020 and Draft Planning Amendment Regulations 2020

Statutory Exhibition of the draft Northern Territory Planning Scheme 2020 is now happening.

The NT Government is progressing Planning Reform through the release of:

  1. Draft Northern Territory Planning Scheme 2020
  2. Planning Amendment Regulations 2020.

Feedback is now being sought on both of these documents.

Feedback from the statutory exhibition of the draft Northern Territory Planning Scheme 2020 will be used to refine the new Planning Scheme for final consideration by the Minister for Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics, before being brought into effect.

You can find out more about the draft Northern Territory Planning Scheme 2020 and the draft Planning Amendment Regulations 2020, download the exhibition documents and make a submission online via the Have Your Say website.

Progressing planning reform

Planning system reform requires:

  • a mix of changes to planning laws and regulations
  • amendments to the NT Planning Scheme
  • development of new information resources
  • upgrades to online systems
  • changes to administrative processes.

To achieve the many changes needed, the reform is split into two phases.

The government is currently progressing phase one reforms.

Phase one

Phase one priority reforms consist of:

  • legislative changes
  • planning scheme amendments to reflect the structural changes established by the new legislation
  • administrative changes that are reasonably simple to put in place.

Phase two

This phase consists of longer term reforms that:

  • rely on a change to law or policy to be completed first (through phase one reforms) and/or
  • require comprehensive research and investigation.


The following are the consultations that have occurred over the duration of the reform.


On 13 February 2020, the Planning Amendment Bill 2020 (Bill) was introduced to the Legislative Assembly, beginning the process to amend the Planning Act 1999.

The process for amending legislation is described below.

1. Bill introduced to Legislative Assembly

This includes the following:

  • Minister for Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics speech explaining the Bill
  • Minister refers the Bill to the Legislative Scrutiny Committee for consideration.

2. Legislation Scrutiny Committee considers the Bill

This includes the following:

  • a period for public submissions
  • a report tabled by the Scrutiny Committee on the inquiry into the Bill in May 2020.

To find out more, go to the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory website.

3. Legislative Assembly debates the Bill

The Legislative Assembly debates and votes on the Bill and, if passed, the Bill becomes proposed law.

4. New legislation comes into effect

This means the following:

  • The proposed law must be presented to the Administrator who may declare assent to the proposed law, which then becomes an Act.
  • An Act becomes law from the date of assent or upon gazettal of the Notice of the Administrator’s assent.

7 October - 29 November 2019

Stage 3 of consultation on Planning Reform sought feedback on changes to the Planning Act 1999. A consultation draft of a Bill to amend the Act was released providing details of the proposed changes. A suite of supporting documents was also available to provide context about how the changes to the Act will work with other changes to the planning system to implement planning reform.

Consultation documents:

Archived online consultation:

26 July - 7 September 2018

Consultation on the Phase 1 Priority Reforms aimed to get in-depth feedback on the proposed reforms. This consultation targeted frequent users of the planning system and those who participated in the reform process in 2017. Consultation was conducted by Elton Consulting and included:

  • a telephone number for queries
  • feature on the ‘Have Your Say’ website providing information and seeking feedback
  • focus group sessions held in Darwin, Alice Springs and Katherine for stakeholders including:
    • community members
    • environmental groups
    • planning and legal professionals
    • industry associations
    • local government (LGANT, greater Darwin Councils, Regional Councils and Remote Councils in and around Katherine and Alice Springs)
    • Northern Territory Planning Commission

Consultation documents:

Archived online consultation:

Consultation outcomes:

15 October - 8 December 2017

The initial consultation included:

  • an online survey
  • inviting written submissions
  • two industry workshops, held in Alice Springs and Darwin
  • one focus group with respondents to the telephone survey
  • two Council workshops involving members from most local government areas
  • pop-up community consultation sessions at local shopping centres and malls.

Over 1,000 people from Greater Darwin, Alice Springs, and Katherine were directly involved in the consultation, with additional residents reading the documents on the website.

Consultation documents:

Archived online consultation:

Consultation outcomes:


Planning Reform
Lands Planning
Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics
GPO Box 1680, DARWIN NT 0801

Phone: 8999 8963

Last updated: 26 June 2020

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