Role of the Development Assessment Planner and Why it is Important

Development Assessment Planning

As society places greater emphasis on balancing environmental and economic pressures, promoting liveable communities, and securing high quality urban design, the role of planning (and planners) is becoming more important (Savery & Chastel 2009).

Development Assessment Planning involves the task of implementing the Development Plan, Development Act and Development Regulations as they apply to specific development proposals. The role of the Development Plan is to guide and regulate the shape, form and orderly functioning of development activities within communities.  It results in decisions and is the point at which plans and principles are applied in practice.  

Development Assessment Planners

Development Assessment Planners manage the process of assessing a Development Application against the relevant Development Plan, Development Act and Development Regulations to determine whether it can be granted Development Approval.

The Development Assessment Planner will review the environmental and visual qualities of the area and assess whether the development is compatible with the surrounding locality. As part of this process, the Development Assessment Planner will also check that the proposed development complies with the relevant Development Plan.

In doing their job, Development Assessment Planners will review and interpret policy, liaise with a range of professionals and balance the need for development with the aspirations of the community. Development Assessment requires particular skills that involve not just technical knowledge of the planning system but also sensitivity for dealing with people.


Development Assessment Planners should be aware, that they are limited in assessing any development proposal to only those matters that are contained within the relevant Development Plan. This can be frustrating at times to a Development Assessment Planner, particularly where it would appear that a better outcome could be achieved. However, taking matters into account that are outside of the Development Plan can create a potential procedural challenge (which can be a very costly exercise) and results in confusion and uncertainty to the applicant and the public generally.

Development Assessment is also occasionally stressful because it can often result in negative reactions from applicants and community members. However, despite the negative reactions, it is worth remembering that Development Assessment plays a positive role in achieving development outcomes that largely satisfy the community and the development industry.

Reference: Savery, N & de Chastel, L (2009) ‘The Importance and Value of Urban and Regional Planning’, Australian Planner, Volume 46, Number 3, pp. 6-9, 2009.