Planning Schemes after Council amalgamations

Planning Schemes regulate the use of land within a particular local government’s boundaries (and sometimes may be a different Planning Scheme for a smaller area like a central business district). Therefore, the Planning Scheme is the starting point to work out whether a piece of land can be used for residential or industrial (for example).

Planning Schemes usually take a number of years from when the local government starts the process to when the Scheme comes into effect. Much of this time cannot be shortened as it is about consultation and advertising.

So, what happens if a local government is amalgamated or loses some but not all of their area to another local government?

The Local Government (Constitution) Regulations 1998 (the regulations) have provisions which deal with the transitional relationships with the abolition or changed boundaries of local governments. The regulations (as they currently stand) reveal that the planning schemes follow the land. For example:

  • that if part of a local government’s area is taken over by another local government then the original Scheme remains in effect for that area which has been overtaken but the new local government has the responsibility for administering it (within that newly gained area only).
  • If one local government is abolished and all of its land is overtaken by another local government then the abolished local government’s town planning scheme remains in force for the area of land that previously was administered by the abolished local government.
  • If more than one local government takes over land from another local government then the previous local government’s planning scheme remains in force for the land which was moved from local government to another.

The practical impact of this for local governments is that they will need to have clear protocols to ensure that the correct planning scheme is being applied when applications are processed or compliance is being enforced.

The practical impact of this for individuals and businesses is that they will no longer be able to simply assume that a planning scheme which carries the name of the local government (for example City of Fremantle Town Planning Scheme No. 4) is actually the correct planning scheme to apply. They will need to look at the area of land that the particular property is located in and the history of the local government governments who regulated that land, in order to determine which planning scheme applies.

Take care

Kott Gunning is saddened and shocked to learn of the death of an Environmental Officer in NSW which media reports indicate occurred whilst the officer was conducting a site visit.

Many of Kott Gunning’s instructing officers in local governments around the state regularly conduct site visits and we would like to take this opportunity to urge that they take care whilst carrying out this important role.

For further information please contact our Anne Wood on (08) 9321 3755 or

The information published on this website is of a general nature and should not be construed as legal advice. Whilst we aim to provide timely, relevant and accurate information, the law may change and circumstances may differ. You should not therefore act in reliance on it without first obtaining specific legal advice.