Design Review is a pre-lodgement service that supports high-quality design outcomes, improves access to independent design expertise and assists with informed decision-making during development assessment.

Design Review is an independent evaluation process where a panel of built environment experts review the design quality of a development proposal before it is lodged for assessment. The role of Design Review is not to redesign proposals, but rather to identify and discuss opportunities to encourage high-quality design with the proponent.

Design Review provides the opportunity for proponents to obtain independent design advice from the panel. The design advice is a summary of the Design Review session and is provided to the proponent to assist with design development. The design advice is also provided to the relevant authority for consideration during development assessment.

The benefits of Design Review include:

  • supporting high-quality design
  • improving access to independent and expert design advice early in the planning and design process
  • supporting consistent and informed planning decisions
  • facilitating collaboration between allied professionals that can positively contribute to professional development

Design Review is most effective when undertaken early in the planning and design process, prior to a development application being lodged, where the opportunities to effect positive change are greatest.

Design Review in South Australia is guided by the Principles of Good Design. These Principles help us recognise, discuss and support the role that design plays in making our buildings and places better for people, the environment and economy.

South Australia’s Principles of Good Design are:

  • Context
    Good design is contextual because it responds to the surrounding environment, and contributes to the existing quality and future character of a place.
  • Inclusive
    Good design is inclusive and universal because it creates places for everyone to use and enjoy, by optimising social opportunity and equitable access.
  • Durable
    Good design is durable because it creates buildings and places that are fit-for-purpose, adaptable and long-lasting.
  • Value
    Good design adds value by creating desirable places that promote community and local investment, as well as enhancing social and cultural value.
  • Performance
    Good design performs well because it realises the project potential for the benefit of all users and the broader community.
  • Sustainable
    Good design is sustainable because it is environmentally responsible and supports long-term economic productivity, health and wellbeing.

State Design Review

State Design Review has operated successfully in South Australia since 2011 and is currently available to larger-scale development proposals assessed by the State Commission Assessment Panel (SCAP) and referred to the South Australian Government Architect, including:

  • developments with a value of $10 million or more within the City of Adelaide
  • developments with a value of $3 million or more in Port Adelaide Regional Centre Zone (City of Port Adelaide Enfield)
  • developments of five storeys or more in the:
    • Inner Metropolitan Adelaide Urban Corridor Zones
    • District Centre (Norwood) Zone (City of Norwood Payneham & St Peters)
    • District Centre (Jetty Road) Zone and Residential High Density Zone (City of Holdfast Bay)
  • developments located within the Design Overlay of the Planning and Design Code

State Design Review Panel Members

Local Design Review

The Local Design Review Scheme for South Australia (the Scheme) came into effect on 1 July 2021.

The Scheme provides a consistent state-wide approach for councils to provide Design Review for locally assessed development proposals with the aim of:

  • supporting high-quality design
  • improving access to independent and expert advice early in the planning and design process
  • supporting consistent and informed planning decisions
  • facilitating collaboration between allied professionals
  • supporting the State’s planning system to meet objects and principles in the PDI Act.

The Scheme was prepared by the Office for Design and Architecture SA (ODASA) in close collaboration with council staff from across the state, representatives from peak industry bodies and the State Planning Commission (the Commission) and interstate government agencies with experience in Local Design Review.

The draft Local Design Review Scheme was available for public comment for eight weeks from 26 June to 21 August 2020. A total of 39 submissions were received in response to the draft Scheme. All submissions and the Engagement Summary Report are published below.

Since the Scheme was approved, ODASA has been developing important tools to support operation of the Scheme including a user guide, forms and templates, training modules and fee modelling.

Before the Scheme becomes operational, the Planning and Design Code must be amended to specify which development types will be eligible for Local Design Review. The Commission initiated this amendment in May 2021 and our team has been busy collaborating with council staff and industry stakeholders to prepare the draft content. This amendment will be open for public consultation in the coming months.

Further information

Additional Resources