The National Capital Authority (NCA) is established under the Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988 (the Act). The current National Capital Plan (the Plan) came into effect on 21 January 1990. In accordance with the Act, the NCA is required to keep the Plan under constant review and to propose amendments to it where necessary. The object of the Plan is 'to ensure that Canberra and the Territory are planned and developed in accordance with their national significance.'

The Plan identifies matters of national significance in the planning and development of Canberra and the Territory. These are:

  • The pre-eminence of the role of Canberra and the Territory as the National Capital.
  • Preservation and enhancement of the landscape features which give the National Capital its character and setting.
  • Respect for the key elements of Walter Burley Griffin's formally adopted plan for Canberra.
  • Creation, preservation and enhancement of fitting sites, approaches and backdrops for national institutions and ceremonies as well as National Capital Uses.
  • The development of a city which both respects the environmental values and reflects national concerns with sustainability of Australia's urban areas.

Within the framework of this legislative object or goal, key objectives of the Plan are to:

  • Recognise the pre-eminence of the role of Canberra and the Territory as Australia's National Capital.
  • Further develop and enhance the Central National Area which includes the Parliamentary Zone and its setting and the main diplomatic sites and national institutions, as the heart of the National Capital.
  • Emphasise the national significance of the main avenues and approach routes.
  • Respect the geometry and intent of Walter Burley Griffin's formally adopted plan for Canberra.
  • Maintain and enhance the landscape character of Canberra and the Territory as the setting for the National Capital.
  • Protect the undeveloped hill tops and the open spaces which divide and give form to Canberra's urban area.
  • Provide a plan offering flexibility and choice to enable the Territory government properly to fulfil its functions.
  • Support and promote environmentally responsible urban development practices.

The purpose of Draft Amendment 87 – City Hill Building Heights (Knowles Place) (DA87) is to relocate the areas identified for landmark buildings adjacent to Knowles Place, from Blocks 1 and 4 Section 18 City, to Blocks 9 and 13 Section 63 City, and Block 21 Section 63 City respectively.

DA87 to the Plan (set out in Part 2: National Capital Plan Draft Amendment 87 – City Hill Building Heights (Knowles Place)) has been prepared in accordance with section 23 of the Act.

Part 1: Context

1.1 Background

A principle of the City Hill Precinct Code of the National Capital Plan (the Plan) is that landmark buildings (up to RL617) be constructed at the junctions of the main avenues and London Circuit.

The Plan currently provides for building heights to a maximum of RL617 on the sites of the current City Police Station and the Reserve Bank of Australia. These sites form part of the ACT Law Courts Precinct and have been nominated for Provisional Registration to the ACT Heritage Register. Heritage registration will restrict development capacity on these sites and therefore the potential to achieve the desired outcomes for the City Hill Precinct.

The Authority recognises the importance of these heritage values and has agreed to the preparation of this draft amendment to relocate the areas identified for landmark buildings adjacent to Knowles Place, from Blocks 1 and 4 Section 18 City, to Blocks 9 and 13 Section 63 City and Block 21 Section 63 City respectively.

The sites recommended to be identified for landmark buildings are currently surface car parks and generally unencumbered in the same manner as the existing identified sites. A similar built form and urban outcome to that currently expressed in the Plan can be achieved with the proposed change. 

The Authority has formed the view that such an amendment is appropriate following consideration of the heritage values of the ACT Law Courts Precinct.

Blocks 9 and 13 Section 63 and Blocks 1 and 4 Section 18 City are owned by the ACT Government. The ACT Government has advised the NCA that it supports the proposed draft amendment to the Plan.

Figure 1 - Site locality

 1.2    Explanatory Statement

The City Hill Precinct Code sets out detailed conditions of planning, design and development for the precinct. This includes provisions regarding public spaces, landscape and streetscape treatments, open space, built form and building height, parking and movement, and expectations for architectural and design quality.

Building heights are typically permitted to 25 metres (generally six to eight storeys) across the precinct. The Plan also identifies the intended location of landmark buildings at the intersection of the ‘main avenues’ (Commonwealth, Edinburgh, University, Northbourne, and Constitution Avenues) with London Circuit. In these locations, buildings may be constructed to RL617 (generally 14 to 18 storeys).  

Figure 40 of the Plan, shown below, illustrates the intended locations of landmark buildings in the City Hill Precinct.



Given the constraints to development posed by the location of landmark buildings at the corners of London Circuit and Knowles Place, DA87 proposes to relocate the areas intended for landmark buildings to those shown below.
Relevant written policy will be updated to ensure that it reflects the intent of the drawing. 


1.3  Draft Amendment process

 The process for making an amendment to the Plan is outlined below:

  1. What has been done
    • Proposal by the NCA of a Draft Amendment to the Plan
  2. Current Status
    • Public consultation on a Draft Amendment
  3. What is Next
    • Submission to Minister
    • Action by Minister
    • Parliamentary scrutiny
    • Expiration of disallowance period

1.4    Public Consultation

The NCA welcomes written comments on DA87 from interested parties as part of the consultation process. All responses received will be considered before DA87 is submitted to the Minister for Local Government and Territories in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

Hard copies of DA87 are available on request by contacting:

By Mail:

National Capital Authority

Ground Floor, Treasury Building

King Edward Terrace


By Phone:

02 6271 2888

Between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday

Or By Email: 

Public information session

A public information session will be held on Tuesday 25 October 2016, from 1pm to 2pm at the National Capital Authority, Griffin Room, Ground Floor, Treasury Building, King Edward Terrace, PARKES, ACT 2600. 

Submissions to DA87 can be:

emailed to   

mailed to Chief Planner, National Capital Authority, GPO Box 373, Canberra, ACT 2601

delivered to National Capital Authority, Ground Floor Treasury Building, King Edward Terrace, Parkes ACT 2600.

Submissions are invited until close of business on 25 November 2016.

Further information on DA87 is available by telephone on 02 6271 2888 or email

Permission to disclose name and address

The NCA seeks an open and transparent DCP process. Following public consultation on the draft amendment, the NCA will prepare a Consultation Report which will be published on the NCA website. This report will include a summary of each submission. The NCA intends to publish the name and suburb of each person making the submission, but will not publish contact details (such as physical address, email or phone number).

If you have a concern about having your name published on the internet or if you wish to make a confidential submission, you must make this clear when submitting your comments. Say why you want your submission to be kept confidential.

The NCA will consider requests for confidentiality, but cannot make promises in advance. If you have concerns about confidentiality, please contact the NCA to discuss before making a submission.

Part 2: National Capital Plan Amendment 87 – Relocation of indicative sites for landmark buildings (Knowles Place)

The National Capital Plan is amended by the following:

Section 4.6 City Hill Precinct Code

a. Under the section titled ‘Building height’, delete the second paragraph and replace with:

Landmark buildings up to RL617 (generally 14 to 18 storeys) will be restricted to the locations identified in Figure 40, generally being the corners of the main avenues intersecting with London Circuit.

b. Delete Figure 40 and replace with:


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