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COAG Review

of Capital City Strategic Planning Systems


In December 2009, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to reforms to the strategic planning of Australian capital cities.


The objective of the reforms were: 'To ensure Australian cities are globally competitive, productive, sustainable, liveable and socially inclusive and are well placed to meet future challenges and growth.'


To pursue this objective, COAG also agreed to nine criteria for capital city strategic planning systems and that, by 1 January 2012, the States and Territories would have consistent systems in place for their capital cities (see box).


Following extensive consultation, the Reform Council submitted to COAG a report titled 'Review of capital city strategic planning systems' (see link below).


COAG agreed that continued intergovernmental collaboration be taken forward by the Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure (SCOTI).


The COAG Reform Council has since been abolished; and SCOTI has been renamed Transport and Infrastructure Council. 

This text is copied from the National Archive of the COAG Reform Council website:


Review of capital city strategic planning systems

Category:  Capital city strategic planning systems

Date of submission to COAG: Friday, 23 December 2011

Date of public release: Monday, 2 April 2012


COAG recognised the importance of cities – and of the long-term strategic planning of cities – to growth and productivity, sustainability and liveability, and accommodating demographic change and population growth.


COAG asked the council to independently review the consistency of capital city strategic planning systems against nine criteria and report back by the end of 2011.


Our review found that governments need to do more to plan better for economic development, land use and infrastructure in our cities. The report showed both strengths and weaknesses in each capital city planning system. We found that while governments have shown strong commitment to improve their planning systems, none of their systems were entirely consistent with COAG’s agreed criteria to re-shape our capital cities.


We also found that continued collaboration between and within governments is needed to overcome the challenges facing our cities. This collaboration could productively focus on:


  • improving community engagement in strategic planning

  • improving the policies that affect private sector investment and innovation in cities

  • improving the monitoring of implementation and outcomes in cities.

COAG review of capital city strategic planning systems



To ensure Australian cities are globally competitive, productive, sustainable, liveable and socially inclusive and are well placed to meet future challenges and growth.



Capital city strategic planning systems should:


1. be integrated:

a) across functions, including land-use and transport planning, economic and infrastructure development, environmental assessment and urban development, and

b) across government agencies;


2. provide for a consistent hierarchy of future oriented and publicly available plans, including:

a) long term (for example, 15-30 year) integrated strategic plans,

b) medium term (for example, 5-15 year) prioritised infrastructure and land-use plans, and

c) near term prioritised infrastructure project pipeline backed by appropriately detailed project plans;


3. provide for nationally-significant economic infrastructure (both new and upgrade of existing) including:

a) transport corridors,

b) international gateways,

c) intermodal connections,

d) major communications and utilities infrastructure, and

e) reservation of appropriate lands to support future expansion;


4. address nationally-significant policy issues including:

a) population growth and demographic change,

b) productivity and global competitiveness,

c) climate change mitigation and adaptation,

d) efficient development and use of existing and new infrastructure and other public assets,

e) connectivity of people to jobs and businesses to markets,

f) development of major urban corridors,

g) social inclusion,

h) health, liveability, and community wellbeing,

i) housing affordability, and

j) matters of national environmental significance;


5. consider and strengthen the networks between capital cities and major regional centres, and other important domestic and international connections;


6. provide for planned, sequenced and evidence-based land release and an appropriate balance of infill and greenfields development;


7. clearly identify priorities for investment and policy effort by governments, and provide an effective framework for private sector investment and innovation;


8. encourage world-class urban design and architecture; and


9. provide effective implementation arrangements and supporting mechanisms, including:

a) clear accountabilities, timelines and appropriate performance measures,

b) coordination between all three levels of government, with opportunities for Commonwealth and Local Government input, and linked, streamlined and efficient approval processes including under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999,

c) evaluation and review cycles that support the need for balance between flexibility and certainty, including trigger points that identify the need for change in policy settings, and

d) appropriate consultation and engagement with external stakeholders, experts and the wider community.

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