Planning Reform


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 Government is responding to calls from the community and industry to improve the planning system. Planning reform will restore integrity to the planning system to improve transparency and accountability, and deliver better development outcomes for the Territory.

Directions for change

Consultation in 2017 identified a broad range of concerns and priorities from industry and the community. The essence of this feedback suggest three key directions for improving the NT planning system:

  • strengthen and clarify the planning framework to deliver better planning and development outcomes
  • make the planning system more open and accountable to improve public understanding and confidence in planning decisions
  • improve connections with the public to better value, encourage and support community contributions to planning processes.

Phases of Planning Reform

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

The proposed reform timeframe is split into 2 phases.

Phase 1 - priority reforms which 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 2 - longer term reforms that:

  • rely on a change to law or policy to be completed first (through Phase 1 reforms) and/or
  • require comprehensive research and investigation.

What remains the same

Key parts of the planning system that will remain the same are:

  • the overall structure of the system will remain relatively unchanged including a Territory-wide planning scheme
  • the Minister for Planning will retain discretion over planning scheme amendments and exceptional development permits
  • planning scheme amendment hearings will continue to be held by the NT Planning Commission.

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Last updated: 10 November 2019


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