Project status: Open

The Minister for Planning and Land Management approved Variation 369 on 2 May 2022. The approved version is available at:

https://www.legislation.act.gov.au/ni/2022-239/

We are looking at

Variation 369 is an important step towards delivering a more sustainable and climate resilient city. It will be important to get the balance right so that new developments can deliver quality built form within the new regulations for tree canopy coverage and planting area.

As our city continues to grow, it will be necessary to ensure that future development promotes a healthier, more liveable and sustainable urban environment, as well as to help adapt and mitigate the effects of climate change.

Canberra's Living Infrastructure Plan, released in 2019, included actions to help the government plan, design, construct and manage our city in a way that values, incorporates and protects natural assets. We're progressing one of these actions through a variation to the Territory Plan (Variation 369) which seeks to strengthen our ‘living infrastructure’ by introducing rules relating to tree coverage for residential developments.


What changes will Variation 369 make?

There are currently no rules requiring ACT residential landowners to have tree canopy cover on their block.

Variation 369 will introduce new rules to require at least a 15% tree canopy coverage for multi-unit development in RZ1-2 zones, and a minimum 20% canopy cover for multi-unit development in RZ3-5 zones. There are also requirements for tree canopy coverage on single dwelling blocks.

The changes will also add new requirements that development provides a minimum level of tree planting, with associated requirements for canopy trees on compact, mid-sized and large residential blocks.

This change to the Territory Plan will implement requirements for both single residential and multi-unit developments to have a certain level of canopy cover, which will contribute to the increase of tree canopy coverage across the city and provide more green space for Canberran’s to enjoy.

To find out more, read the FAQs below or check out the Information Session Slides.

Frequently asked questions

All new developments designed and built in Canberra will need to comply with the rules of Variation 369, except for blocks that were approved under an estate development plan on or after 1 January 2020.

To see the full list of provisions you can review the Notifiable Instrument at https://www.legislation.act.gov.au/ni/2022-239/

A tree species guide and practice notes are being prepared by the planning and land authority to help home owners, industry practitioners, estate developers, certifiers, etc. to navigate and implement the changes, especially around amended dwelling design and appropriate tree species selection.

The proposed provisions will apply to all residential blocks created before 1 January 2020.

Variation 369 will apply to blocks in established areas, including those blocks approved prior to 2007 (the commencement date of the current Planning and Development Act). This includes single dwellings, subdivisions and consolidations.

The proposed provisions do not apply to blocks approved under an estate development plan on or after 1 January 2020. This means that people who have bought land that was approved since January 2020 (but not yet completed their home build) can be certain that they will still be able to build the dwelling they envisaged when they bought the land - consistent with requirements at the time of purchase.

Variation 369 was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on 5 May 2022 and is expected to finish the disallowable period on 9 June 2022 . The variation will not take effect until the commencement date.

The commencement date for Variation 369 is anticipated to be 1 September 2022 and will apply to:

  • development applications submitted for completeness check on or after 1 September 2022; and
  • building applications determined on or after 1 September 2022.

Variation 369 will not apply to blocks that were approved under an estate development plan on or after 1 January 2020. This means that the new provisions will not apply to the majority of vacant blocks in greenfield estates.

Development applications submitted for completeness check on or after 1 September 2022 will be required to comply with the new provisions outlined in Variation 369.