Role of the Development Assessment Planner

Development Assessment (DA) Planners are responsible for assessing development applications. Development Assessment Planners may work for a Council or Development Assessment Branch of the Department of Planning and Local Government.

DA Planners determine whether a proposed development is appropriate by reviewing the environmental and visual qualities of the proposed site and assessing whether the development would be compatible with the surrounding area. DA Planners must also assess a proposed development against the relevant Development Plan, to determine whether the application is ‘seriously at variance’ with the Plan.


Section 34(23) of the Development Act 1993 now states that a Council must delegate all its powers and functions as a relevant authority with respect to determining whether or not to grant Development Plan consent under the Act to –

  • a Council officer (not an elected member); or
  • a local Council Development Assessment Panel; or
  • a Regional Development Assessment Panel.

A Council in its own right cannot determine such an application. The only exception is where the Minister for Urban Development and Planning has granted an exemption to a Council from the requirement to establish a Panel. (An exemption is rare and to date has tended to be only granted in the form of a deferment not a discharge from the responsibility altogether to a small number of rural councils for particular local reasons.)

Section 34(27) requires a Council to establish a policy relating to the basis upon which it will make the various delegations and ensure that a copy of this policy is publically available.

Generally only a small percentage of development applications are actually referred to CDAPs for a decision. The vast majority of applications are usually assessed by Council Development Assessment Planners acting under delegated authority.

The Local Government Association of SA has on behalf of all Councils developed a series of standard delegation templates for the twenty Acts most commonly used by Councils, including an Instrument of Delegation under the Development Act 1993. This Instrument sets out the range of powers and functions that are able to be delegated under the Act in an easy-to-follow format. Member Councils have access to these templates via the LGA Secure Site which allows them to download, use and fill in to suit their particular delegation requirements.