Notices issued under the COVID-19 emergency legislation

Updated – 27 May 2020

The following notices, which relate to the land use planning system, have been issued under COVID-19 Disease Emergency (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020 (the COVID-19 Act):

More information on the notices is available below.

Section 13 Notice – Extension of statutory timelines

On 22 May 2020, a notice was issued by the Premier of Tasmania, with the approval of the State Controller, under section 13 of the COVID-19 Act. The section 13 notice is available for viewing in the Tasmanian Government Gazette – Special Gazette of 22 May 2020.

The notice provides an extension of time for a proponent to substantially commence a use or development approved by a planning permit during the COVID-19 emergency period.

How long is the extension of time and how does it apply?

A use or development must substantially commence within 2 years of a planning permit being granted, unless an extension has been granted by the local council. Extensions may be granted for up to 4 years, in 2 year increments, providing a maximum of 6 years to substantially commence.

The notice provides a further 6 month extension to any permit that had been granted the final 2 year extension possible under section 53(5)(c) of the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993 before the notice came into effect. It does not apply to any permits that are granted the final 2 year extension after this date.

The 6 month extension does apply beyond the life of the notice.

Why has a 6 month extension been given to substantially commence?

The extension has been provided to assist those who may have difficulties in substantially commencing a use or development approved by a planning permit due to impacts caused by the COVID-19 emergency. This may be due to restrictions on the movement of people, limited numbers of people available to undertake the required works, or delays in obtaining finance or subsequent approvals.

An extension of 6 months is the maximum possible under section 13 of the COVID-19 Act.

How long does the notice remain in effect?

The notice will remain in effect for 12 months, unless revoked earlier.

The COVID-19 Act provides for notices to be revoked or amended. All notices are automatically revoked 60 days after the end of the emergency period as declared by the Premier.

Section 14 Notice – Amendment of planning and other permits

A notice is yet to be issued under section 14 of the COVID-19 Act for any permits relating to the land use planning system.

The Tasmanian Government will continue to monitor the situation, particularly for planning permits that may restrict the hours of business or deliveries for essential supplies and services, in consultation with the local government sector through the Local Government Association of Tasmania and industry representatives.

Section 15 Notice – Protection from offence against planning law

On 24 April 2020, a notice was issued by the Premier of Tasmania, with the approval of the State Controller, under section 15 of the COVID-19 Act. The section 15 notice is available for viewing in the Tasmanian Government Gazette – Special Gazette of 24 April 2020.

The notice provides protection from any offence against planning law for certain emergency use and development for health services during the COVID-19 emergency period.

What use and development is covered by the notice?

The notice declares that a person does not commit an offence against the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993 for any use or development undertaken for the purposes of Hospital Services, medical centres or consulting rooms if it is necessary to effectively implement or comply with a requirement, direction or authorisation under the Emergency Management Act 2006 or the Public Health Act 1997.

This may apply to the use of existing buildings, or the erection and use of temporary buildings or structures to allow health professionals to continue to consult, diagnose and treat patients during the COVID-19 emergency. However, the use or development must be necessary to the implementation of, or compliance with, a requirement, direction or authorisation made in relation to the COVID-19 emergency.

Such use or development does not require a planning permit from the local council for these purposes.

The notice also provides protection from any offence relating to the contravention of an existing planning permit that may be in place on the site. The relevant authorisation under the Building Act 2016 may still be required.

How are Hospital Services, medical centres and consulting rooms defined?

Hospital Services, medical centres and consulting rooms have the same definitions as in the State Planning Provisions, as follows:

Hospital Services – use of land to provide health care (including preventative care, diagnosis, medical and surgical treatment, rehabilitation, psychiatric care and counselling) to persons admitted as inpatients. If the land is so used, the use includes the care or treatment of outpatients.

Medical centre – means use of land to provide health services (including preventative care, diagnosis, medical and surgical treatment, and counselling) to out-patients only.

Consulting room – means use of land for services provided by a health or other therapies practitioner, other than services provided by a medical centre.

Why is the notice required and why is it limited to certain use and development?

The notice ensures there are no planning impediments for any critical health services that are necessary to implement or comply with a requirement, direction or authorisation during the COVID-19 emergency.

Directions issued under the Emergency Management Act 2006 or the Public Health Act 1997 during the COVID-19 emergency may require variations to how existing health facilities are used, or require the erection temporary structures on the site or in other locations. It would be necessary to implement these changes immediately without the need to gain a planning permit from the relevant local council.

The notice provides temporary and emergency relief from the planning requirements, specifically the need to gain a planning permit from the local council. It also provides protection from any contravention of an existing planning permit that may occur.

Some existing planning schemes already include planning permit exemptions for certain emergency works. This notice provides clear exemptions for use and development related to health services during the emergency period to avoid any uncertainty.

The notice is currently limited to essential health services, however additional use and development may be considered in the future if necessary to implement any other urgent requirements, directions or authorisations during the COVID-19 emergency period.

How long does the notice remain in effect?

The notice will remain in effect for 12 months, unless revoked earlier.

The COVID-19 Act provides for notices to be revoked or amended. All notices are automatically revoked 60 days after the end of the emergency period as declared by the Premier.

What happens to any development after the expiry of the emergency period?

Any development undertaken in accordance with the notice is taken to be authorised under the relevant planning scheme, meaning that it remains lawful after the end of the COVID-19 emergency period.

However, the relevant Minister may determine that the development be removed at the end of the emergency period.

Section 17 Notice – Authorisation to take actions electronically

On 3 April 2020, a notice was issued by the Premier of Tasmania, with the approval of the State Controller, under section 17 of the COVID-19 Act. The section 17 notice is available for viewing in the Tasmanian Government Gazette – Special Gazette of 3 April 2020.

The notice allows for a range of local council actions to be taken, or evidenced, by an electronic signature or an electronic document. This specifically applies to actions that are usually required to be taken by means of a physical action such as a signature, or evidenced in a non-electronic document.

What local council actions are covered by the notice?

The notice relates to a number of actions local councils are required to take under the Local Government Act 1993 and the Local Government (Meeting Procedures) Regulations 2015. These actions include:

  • authentication of certain local council documents;
  • matters relating to local council meeting minutes; and
  • the convening of local council meetings.

Under the notice, these actions may be taken, or evidenced, by electronic signatures or electronic documents.

Providing alternative arrangements are important for allowing continuity of business, particularly with the current restrictions on the movement of people and the need for social distancing.

How long does the notice remain in effect?

The notice will remain in effect for 12 months, unless revoked earlier.

The COVID-19 Act provides for notices to be revoked or amended. All notices are automatically revoked 60 days after the end of the emergency period as declared by the Premier.

Section 18 Notice – Authorisation for meetings not to be held in public

On 3 April 2020, a notice was issued by the Premier of Tasmania, with the approval of the State Controller, under section 18 of the COVID-19 Act. The section 18 notice is available for viewing in the Tasmanian Government Gazette – Special Gazette of 3 April 2020.

The notice provides for alternate arrangements for local council meetings that are required to be held in public, including when acting as a planning authority under the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993.

What are the alternate meeting arrangements for local councils?

The notice provides for local council meetings, including while acting as a planning authority, to not be held in public provided:

  • an electronic recording of the meeting is made available on the council’s website for viewing by the public; and
  • the recording is made available, as far as practicable, for viewing at the time of the meeting being held.

Providing alternative arrangements for local council meetings are important for allowing continuity of business, particularly with the current restrictions on the movement of people and the need for social distancing. It also provides reasonable opportunities for the public to view the meeting proceedings.

How long does the notice remain in effect?

The notice will remain in effect for 12 months, unless revoked earlier.

The COVID-19 Act provides for notices to be revoked or amended. All notices are automatically revoked 60 days after the end of the emergency period as declared by the Premier.

Section 19 Notice – Public exhibition of certain documents

Two notices have been issued by the Premier of Tasmania, with the approval of the State Controller, under section 19 of the COVID-19 Act providing alternative arrangements for the public exhibition of various local council documents, specifically if the local council offices have been required to close as a result of the COVID-19 emergency.

Providing alternative arrangements are important for allowing continuity of business, while also providing reasonable opportunities for the public to have access to the documents.

The notices issued so far include:

What documents are covered by the notice issued on 3 April 2020?

This notice provides alternate arrangements for the display and exhibition of a range of local council documents, including:

  • the register of council delegations for decision making;
  • a notice relating to any single or joint authorities established by the council;
  • the display of any proposed and adopted council strategic or annual plans;
  • a notice of any proposed council by-law;
  • the list of council fees and charges; and
  • a notice relating to council meetings including the agenda and associated documents and meeting minutes.

Instead of displaying the documents at the relevant council offices, the notice provides for the documents to be:

  • available for viewing on the website of the relevant local council; and
  • available in hardcopy, on request by phone, for a fee that represents the cost of reproducing the documents for collection from a nominated location.

What are the alternate arrangements for the public exhibition of development applications and planning scheme amendments?

The notice issued on 24 April 2020 provides alternate arrangements for the public exhibition of documents that are required to be made available at the relevant local council’s office in accordance with the Land Use Planning and Approvals Regulations 2014 (the LUPA Regulations), for:

  • an application for a discretionary planning permit;
  • a draft planning scheme amendment; and
  • a notice of approval of a draft planning scheme amendment.

Instead of displaying the documents at the relevant council offices, the notice provides for the documents to be:

  • available for viewing at the website of the relevant local council; and
  • available in hardcopy, on request by phone, for a fee that represents the cost of reproducing the documents for collection from a nominated location or sent to a nominated address by post.

What are the alternate arrangements for the public exhibition of draft Local Provisions Schedules (LPSs) and amendments to LPSs and the State Planning Provisions (SPPs)?

The notice issued on 22 May 2020 provides alternate arrangements for the public exhibition of documents that are required to be made available at the relevant local council’s office or the office of the Tasmanian Planning Commission (the Commission) in accordance with the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993 and the Land Use Planning and Approvals Regulations 2014, for:

  • a draft LPS;
  • a notice of approval of a LPS;
  • a draft amendment of a LPS;
  • a notice of approval of an amendment of a LPS; and
  • a draft amendment of the SPPs.

Instead of displaying the documents at the relevant offices, the notice provides for the documents to be:

  • available for viewing at the website of the relevant local council; and
  • available in a digital or hardcopy form, on request by phone, for a fee that represents the cost of reproducing the documents for collection from a nominated location or sent to a nominated address by post.

What happens if public exhibition of the relevant documents commenced prior to the issue of the notice?

Closure of the local council offices part way through a public exhibition period would, in most cases, mean that the local council is unable to fulfil its duties for exhibition of the documents in accordance with the legislated requirements. Similarly, for documents that are required to be viewable at the offices of the Tasmanian Planning Commission.

The notice provides for public exhibition to lawfully continue in accordance with alternative arrangements.

Each local council, and the Commission (where applicable), will determine how they proceed if changes to the public exhibition arrangements are required part way through an exhibition period. This may include:

  • restarting the public exhibition period under new arrangements; or
  • continuing the existing public exhibition period, but in accordance with the alternative arrangements.

In either situation, a new public notice should be published in the newspaper advising of the new public exhibition arrangements in a published newspaper notice.

Do the new arrangements apply if the council offices remain open to the public, or if they re-open to the public?

The notice is only intended to provide alternative arrangements for the public exhibition of documents if it is no longer possible to make them available at their offices for the public to view. However, the alternative arrangements may also provide alternative options for the public to view the documents if they are unable, or feel uncomfortable, to attend the relevant office.

Public exhibition arrangements will largely remain unchanged if the local council is still able to make the documents available at their offices for the public to view in accordance with the normal requirements.

How long does the notice remain in effect?

The notice will remain in effect for 12 months, unless revoked earlier.

The COVID-19 Act provides for notices to be revoked or amended. All notices are automatically revoked 60 days after the end of the emergency period as declared by the Premier.

Section 20 Notice – Proceedings of courts, Tribunals, and Commissions may be authorised to not be required to be held in public

A notice is yet to be issued under section 20 of the COVID-19 Act to authorise any alternative proceedings for hearings by the Tasmanian Planning Commission or the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal.

More information on how the Tasmanian Planning Commission and Appeal Tribunal are responding to the COVID-19 emergency is available here: