How planning works in the NT

The Northern Territory (NT) planning system is different compared to other states and territories.

Planning responsibility sits at the NT government level, rather than local government.

The system is set up through the Planning Act 1999 and Planning Regulations 2000, which explains:

  • how planning rules are made and changed
  • who makes planning decisions
  • what the penalties are for breaking planning rules.

The NT has one ‘rule book’ - the NT Planning Scheme 2020 - which applies to the whole of the NT, except for Jabiru.

Jabiru has its own rule book - the Jabiru Town Plan.

How planning happens

Before any planning decisions are made, the government has to consider a range of community needs.

For example, they may need to consider:

  • how the population will grow
  • what infrastructure and services will be needed
  • what natural hazards may affect the area
  • what special areas need protection.

This helps ensure decisions are made in a fair and open way.

Once these needs are understood, the government starts planning and consultation with various stakeholders.

Steps in the plan-making process

The government has a range of strategic policies and plans that formalise these considerations.

Watch this short video for a summary of the plan-making process.

The steps in the plan-making process can be broadly summarised as below.

The government looks at the community's needs to understand how to respond.

They then talk to the community about their expectations and aspirations.

The government works with other service providers, industry and affected community to develop planning strategies.

The broader community is then asked for their views.

The government proposes changes to the planning scheme.

Industry and the wider community are asked about the proposed changes.

The minister for planning approves the changes and the planning controls are updated.

Once rules are updated, planning applications are considered against them.

This ensures planning decisions are fair and transparent.


Last updated: 14 October 2021

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