The Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 (PDI Act) went into effect March 19, with the culmination of a unified planning code to apply to South Australian planning decisions.

While the new system enables people to access info and lodge and keep track of development applications on the Internet, the Environmental Defenders Office worries about reduced options for the community to challenge decision making.

Basically the system strips nearly all third-party appeal rights, putting the focus on community engagement at the policy stage.

Yet folks tend to engage more in the planning system and decision making following the proposal of a development in their region.

Performance planning is another aspect of the system where for certain applications developers must meet only unclear performance outcomes to see their projects approved.

The EDO’s Managing Lawyer in SA Melissa Ballantyne states that concerns exist that projects with the potential for substantial impact will be approved with no chance to challenge decisions legally.

The new system strips community rights, she said, while rendering it simpler for developers to push projects through. Third party appeals have been a component of planning systems around the nation. They permit for a vast spectrum of views to be considered and guarantee accountability and transparency in the system.

She has heard that certain developers have cancelled proposals filed before the 19 March, and resubmitted them following that date, owing to the fact that conditions are more favourable given a substantial project risk, namely third-party appeal rights have been revoked.

Read EDO’s submission on the planning changes.