Urban Planning and Development in Australia: What You Need to Know 

Understanding town planning in Australia is crucial for anyone planning to build a new home or grow your property investment portfolio. This is because the rules and regulations imposed by the government can affect various factors, including lot costs, zoning limitations, house plans in Australia etc.

The Planning Institute of Australia leads the country’s urban planning profession. The Federal Government’s principal legislation piece is the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, which influences town planning decisions nationwide. However, each state has their own town planning laws and procedures when it comes to land use management.

For instance:

  • In New South Wales and Sydney, the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) controls the provisions of land use and urban planning. Disputes are dealt by the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales.
  • In Western Australia and Perth, the Western Australian Planning Commission mainly directs the town planning, implementing The Environmental Protection Act of 1986. Following the Planning and Development Act of 2005, Perth has become one of the fastest consistently growing capital cities in Australia, and is also included in the top ten most livable cities in the world. Large-scale projects, including the Perth City Link and the Riverside project, transforms this city to grow as a central business district that provides its residents safety, opportunities, satisfaction, and an environmentally sound place to live in.
  • In Queensland and or Brisbane, the Economic Development Queensland (EDQ) focuses on urban development projects that increase economic growth, developing sites that are considered under-utilised.

By knowing what town planning regulations each city in Australia adhere to, you will be able to make better decisions when property investing.

What Constitutes Town Planning In Australia? The Five Factors

Urban planning goes beyond considering the population growth and the demographic changes in a specific location. Although each state has an independent urban development system, there are key factors that play a significant role when governing bodies make town planning decisions.


Development of towns in Australia focuses on the need to increase sustainability in urban areas to address transport emissions, energy usage, population growth, weather conditions and events (such as bushfires and flooding), and waste management.

Sustainable building codes include New South Wales’ BASIX assessment tool and Victoria’s Green Star rating, which help improve water and energy conservation in new housing developments.

Water-Sensitive Urban Designs

Also known as WSUD, this framework aims to make sure that urban water management is friendlier to natural water systems. Methods include filtration and pollutant removal, protecting water quality, wastewater transport, and integrated storm water drainage.

Renewal and  Consolidation

Urban renewal aims to revitalise cities. Areas previously seen as a social disadvantage are being transformed into zones that offer more career opportunities, recreational spots, amenities, and other perks. Melbourne’s Docklands development and Brisbane’s South Bank are examples.

Climate Change

Urban areas in Australia are prone to extreme weather events. Thus, climate change play a big role in making sure that the cities’ buildings and infrastructure are designed to withstand the shifts in the weather pattern. Risk assessment analysis is crucial in determining if a zone is prone to bushfires, flooding, coastal erosion, and storm surges.

Heritage and Conservation

Aside from making sure that new developments comply with environmentally sound specifications, town planning laws and policies also aim to conserve and protect historic heritage buildings. Before construction takes place, developers are required to follow the rigid guidelines that place value and significance to Australia’s cultural history.

Australia is moving towards a more eco-friendly and sustainable approach to new developments and house plans. If you are looking for more information on house plans in Australia, knowing the town planning regulations that apply to you is one of the first steps in making sure that your property is in accordance with the law.

Making The Right Decision With iBuildNew

If you are planning to build a new home, having all of the information is very important and it leaves you in a powerful position. Knowing what to expect and understand why and how different aspects of the process work means that you will never be left in the dark. Before you get started make sure that you read our free downloadable guide to the new home building process. Jam-packed full of power insight this guide will help you make a confident decision when you choose a builder. At iBuildNew, not only can you compare designs and builders easily, you can also speak to one of our expert consultants who can step you through the building process and what to expect. They will take a description of your building requirements, provide you with expert advice and match you up with builders who will be able to meet your needs. There will be no need to run back and forth between builders as we get them to contact you promptly. Call one of our consultants on 1800 184 284 or book a call online.


Ben is a passionate home renovator who is forever making improvements around the home and garden


iBuildNew is the market leading aggregator dedicated to residential home construction and land development. As an independent platform, iBuildNew helps Australians identify and compare new home designs, house and land packages and land estates. It’s the smart way home buyers, who are considering a new build, can find the ideal options to match their individual needs. Home building is a big decision, we make sure you get it right.

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