Changes to planning rules: coronavirus (COVID-19)

Some planning rules in the Northern Territory (NT) have changed in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

These rules relate to:

  • hours of operation for food and retail businesses
  • medical and health facilities
  • working from home
  • projects related to the Jobs Rescue and Recovery Plan.

Hours of operation for food and retail businesses

All restrictions imposed through development permit conditions that limit operating hours or delivery times have been lifted.

This will apply for the duration of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

This will prevent planning restrictions from disrupting the supply chain and ensure food and essential supplies are brought to supermarkets and shops.

Medical and health-related facilities

Planning rules have temporarily changed to allow temporary medical and health clinics to be set up quickly in response to the pandemic.

This removes the need for approval under the Planning Act 1999 to temporarily use and/ or develop land for medical or health care.

Working from home

Restrictions that usually apply to people working from home have been lifted, where the person or business is operating reasonably and in response to the pandemic.

All other relevant legislation (such as health, building and fire requirements) that are in place to protect the safety of NT residents, are still applicable.

Projects related to the Jobs Rescue and Recovery Plan

Some planning approval process regulations have been temporarily suspended for works carried out through the NT Government’s Jobs Rescue and Recovery Plan.

Applicants can get a building permit to start construction without having to submit an application where:

  • internal works, physical upgrades and improvements are partially funded by any of the three Rescue and Recovery schemes
  • external works are partially or completely funded by the Home Improvement Scheme, as long as they fully comply with the requirements of the NT Planning Scheme.

This exemption does not allow a change of land use or a new development to occur without approval.

Examples

The following are examples of projects that would normally require planning approval, but will now be exempt:

Business Improvement Grant

  • a café owner in Alice Springs wants to convert an internal storage area to be used for restaurant seating or
  • a shop owner wants to construct an internal mezzanine floor.

Both would usually need planning approval. But the café and shop owners can move straight to applying for a building permit.

Immediate Works Grant

  • a social club in Palmerston wants to change a tea room into an office or seating area or
  • a sports club wants to change an unused internal storage area to extend its bar.

Both would usually need planning approval. But both clubs can move straight to applying for a building permit.

Home Improvement Scheme

  • a unit owner in Larrakeyah wants to convert part of a lounge room and study to a bedroom or
  • a townhouse owner in the Darwin CBD wants to build a pergola over a patio.

Both would usually need planning approval. But both owners can move straight to applying for a building permit.

Planning system operations

The planning system is expected to continue operating for the duration of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

NT Planning Commission and Development Consent Authority meetings will continue as currently scheduled, but will be conducted using online video and teleconference facilities.

More information

For more information, contact Development Assessment Services by calling 08 8999 6046 or emailing das.ntg@nt.gov.au.

For more information on the coronavirus, go to the NT coronavirus website or call the Australian Coronavirus Information Line on 1800 020 080.

Last updated: 22 April 2020

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