Are approval processes adequate for Canberra’s high-density residential and commercial developments?

Filed under How-To Centre

The ACT Auditor-General, Dr Maxine Cooper, has recently issued a report that highlights areas where the ACT Government can improve its system for assessing and approving high density residential and commercial developments.

Her report defines high density residential developments as those including 60 or more dwellings per hectare and/or generally five or more storeys high.

Dr Cooper concludes that there is not an integrated ‘One Government’ approach in considering development applications for high density residential and commercial developments.

For example, there is a need to review arrangements to ensure developments comply with the National Capital Plan, which is intended to guide planning for Canberra as the nation’s capital. The report mentions that the National Capital Authority had given examples of cases where it had approved a development application and then the final built form was very different from what had been approved originally, with no or little information provided about why the variation had occurred.

The Audit report also indicates that development application processes do not fully integrate environmentally sustainable development and urban design principles. It proposes that relevant information and guidance should be provided for developers and agencies involved in the development application process.

Find the full report of the Auditor-General at


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