Steffan Harries

What is a Level of Assessment?

Accepted? Code Assessable? Impact Assessable? Prohibited? What do all these terms actually mean in town planning?

There are three types of assessments that can be assessable under a local instrument such as a Planning Scheme (i.e. the Planning Regulation 2017): Accepted, Assessable, and Prohibited

Normally, a Planning Scheme will identify the level or type of assessment, and also the applicable assessment benchmarks for a development.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Certain developments can be classified as “accepted development,” meaning they do not require a formal development application if they satisfy specific requirements outlined in the local planning scheme or the Planning Regulation 2017. As the town planner, if the applicant conducts a self-assessment of the development against these requirements, you can proceed without needing written permission from the Council to commence the activity.

A code assessable application undergoes a specific evaluation process based on predetermined assessment benchmarks outlined in the planning scheme. The assessor’s role is to approve the development application if it adheres to these benchmarks or if compliance can be attained by imposing certain conditions.

Unlike code assessment, impact assessment is not limited to a specific set of assessment benchmarks. It can be conducted by considering the prescribed assessment benchmarks, as well as other relevant factors specified by regulations. These additional factors can include planning needs or the current context, allowing for a more comprehensive evaluation of the project’s potential impact. This flexibility enables the assessment process to adapt to changing circumstances and ensures a holistic review of the development proposal.

Accepted Development

Certain kinds of development can be considered ‘accepted development’. These developments do not need a development application if they meet certain requirements under either the local planning scheme or the Planning Regulation 2017. Provided the applicant carries out a self-assessment of the development against the requirements, you as the town planner will not require anything in writing from the Council to commence the activity.

For example, in most Council regions, you can build a granny flat without council approval as long as you comply with their codes relating to the size and location of the building. This is an ‘accepted development’.

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Assessable Development

Assessable Development refers to a development that can only be carried out if development approval has been obtained. There are two types of assessments: Code Assessment, and Impact Assessment.

Code Assessable

A code assessable application is a bounded assessment that must only be evaluated against assessment benchmarks (e.g. the codes) stated in the planning scheme, whilst having regard to the requirements under the Planning Regulation 2017.

The assessor must approve the development application to the extent it complies with assessment benchmarks, or if compliance can be achieved by imposing development conditions.

What is an Assessment Benchmark?

An assessment benchmark can be a traditional code, a code purpose, performance outcome, and acceptable outcome; a simple set of standards, a group of codes, or an overall outcome intended for a zone.

There is no particular level of specificity with which benchmarks must be expressed – they could consist of very detailed technical standards or broad statements of desired policy outcomes.

They have a point of reference from which compliance can be measured and the graduated in a way that is suitable to the outcome being measured. For example, an assessment benchmark about achieving a particular standard of amenity could include objectivity measurable outcomes such as heights, setbacks, bulk and colour, but could also validly be expressed as a standard of amenity consistent with the amenity of the built form on adjacent premises, as an observable point from which to objectively measure.

It would not be appropriate to express it as the development has pleasant amenity. This is because the term ‘pleasant’ is a subjective concept that varies for each observer, and there is no consistent point of reference from which to measure. The framework of a planning scheme is not considered an assessment benchmark under the PA.

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Impact Assessable

Unlike code assessment, Impact assessment is not a ‘bounded assessment’ and can be carried out against the assessment benchmarks and having regard to any matters prescribed by regulation, but also may be carried out against or having regard to any other relevant matters such as planning need or the current relevance of the assessment benchmarks in the light of changed circumstances.

An impact assessable application can be evaluated against the entire planning scheme, without being limited by assessment benchmarks. This includes additional requirements such as public notification.

Prohibited Development

As the name suggests, a Prohibited Development is a development that is identified, as prohibited.

Regardless of the circumstances, there is no lawful way for the Local or State Government to approve the use.

For example, subdivisions of land within the state mapped Regional Landscape and Rural Protection Area in South East Queensland (SEQ) are prohibited.

As per some amendments to the Planning Regulation 2017 made on the 2nd December 2022, Council is now prohibited from assessing Dwelling houses and Rooming Accommodation (5 bedrooms) in a Residential zone where not in a ‘relevant’ overlay (which are things like flooding, character etc.) – you can read more here:

As such, you should not need approval for a 5 bedroom Rooming Accommodation or new Dwelling house by Council and you can go straight to a building certifier and not require any input from a town planner.

character house renovation development approval

Frequently Asked Questions

“Accepted development subject to requirements” refers to a category of development that is considered permissible without the need for a formal development application. However, certain conditions and requirements must still be met in order for the development to proceed. These requirements are typically outlined in the local planning scheme or the Planning Regulation 2017. It means that as long as the proposed development satisfies the specified conditions and meets the prescribed standards, it can proceed without the need for additional approval.

A ‘RAD’ is a ‘Requirement for Accepted Development’. The same thing as ‘Accepted subject to requirements’. 

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