This guide explains provisions in the Local Government Act 1999 relating to community land and ways in which the public can be involved in the classification of community land.

What is community land?

Community land is land owned or managed by the council for the benefit or enjoyment of the community. A council must keep a register of all community land in its area.

Local councils own much of the open space and other land within their boundaries. The Local Government Act 1999 required councils to classify appropriate council land as ‘community land’ by 2002. This classification protects the interests of the community in the land for current and future generations.

A council may assume the care, control and management of land in its area that has been set aside for the use or enjoyment of the public or a section of the public, with the consent of the owner of the land.

Land (other than a road) that is acquired by or comes under the care, control or management of the council after 1999 is taken to have been classified as community land unless the council first resolves to exclude it from the classification.

A council may, by resolution, classify local government land as community land if the land has previously been excluded from the classification.

Not all council land is community land. If the land was acquired for a specific commercial or operational purpose and was not intended to be retained for public or community use, or if the land was intended for sale and not considered community land, then such land may be excluded from the classification.

Use of Community Land

Community land is intended to be used by the public. A person must not use community land for a business purpose unless the use is approved by the council. The council cannot approve the use of community land for a business purpose that is contrary to the provisions of a management plan.

Management Plan

A council must have a management plan for community land in its area. Copies of the management plan must be made available for inspection or purchase at the council’s principal office. The public must be consulted before the plan can be adopted, in accordance with the council’s public consultation policy.

Revocation of Classification of Community Land

The classification of community land may be revoked, or withdrawn. To revoke the classification, the council must:

  • Prepare a detailed report explaining the reasons for removing the land from community classification, including an assessment of how the proposal would affect the area and the local community.
  • The council must notify the public of its proposal to revoke the classification in the Government Gazette and in a newspaper circulating generally throughout the State, giving adequate time (at least 21 days) for the submission of public comments on the proposal.
  • The report must be made available for inspection by the community.
  • After the consultation process, the council may submit the proposal to the Minister with a report on all submissions received as part of the public consultation process.
  • Alternatively, the council may decide not to submit the proposal to the Minister after the public consultation process.

The classification of community land cannot be revoked without approval of the Minister for Local Government. If the Minister approves the report, the council may resolve to revoke the classification of the land as community land. If the land is not owned by the council, the owner of the land must also approve the revocation of the land as community land.

Disposal of Community Land

A council cannot dispose of community land unless the classification of community land has been revoked. However, a council may grant a lease or licence over community land (including all or part of a park or reserve). The council must first follow the relevant steps set out in its public consultation policy.

The Local government Act 1999, chapter 11, containing the relevant legislation can be found by following the link below http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/sa/consol_act/lga1999182/

The Environmental Defenders Office (SA) inc, (EDO) is a non-profit community legal centre offering free advice to individuals and groups on all matters of environmental law. The EDO operates an advisory on Thursday evenings between 6-8PM at: 408 King William St Adelaide SA 5000 Fax +61 (08) 8410 3855. Appointments are necessary and must be made by ringing 8410 3833 or freecall 1800 337 566. It is not a substitute for proper legal advice. Important legal details have been omitted to provide a brief overview of this law. Contact the EDO or your solicitor for more detailed legal advice about your specific problem. This guide was funded by a grant from the Law Foundation of South Australia.