Developers will be subjected to greater scrutiny in cases where they are required to seek community feedback before a development application is lodged.
The ACT government has announced further changes to its pre-development application community consultation guidelines after a review into the process.
The review found more could be done to ensure developers complied with all the guideline requirements. There could also be increased public awareness of the process and both parties could be better informed of what to expect in the process.
The 12-month review included a compliance audit into a random selection of pre-DA consultations, consulted stakeholders and there was also an internal policy review by the ACT's Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development directorate.
Under the compliance audit, the review found most of consultations analysed did not provide the minimum documentation to the community, such as conceptual drawings and a plain English description of the proposal.
But most developers met the minimum consultation activity requirements such as face-to-face sessions and letter box drops.
It also found some of the wording of the guidelines could be ambiguous in places, and this led to confusion about what was actually required.
Under the changes, a developer would be required to produce a summary of how they met each of the guidelines in the pre-DA consultation process.
A charter of participation would be developed by the ACT government. It would outline what is to be expected from the process from the community and developer.
"Better enforcing the developers documentation requirements will help ensure developers have effectively consulted with the community and responded to suggestions," ACT's Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate director-general Ben Ponton said.
"The updated guidelines will include a range of innovative consultation tools to help developers reach a representative sample of the community and receive meaningful feedback.
"We will also now require a minimum consultation process of two weeks, but we expect longer consultation for larger and more complex developments so that all views can be heard."
Among instances where developers are required to undergo pre-development application consultations is when a building is three or more storeys, has more than 15 dwellings or when the total area is more than 5000 square metres.
Estate development plans and developments subject to the National Capital Design Review panel would also be required to partake in a pre-DA consultation once the recommendations are implemented.
Property Council ACT executive director Adina Cirson said while she supported early engagement she was worried it could add further delays to the DA process.
"The Property Council absolutely supports genuine early engagement by the developers with the community," she said.
"We think it's an important part of any process, particularly at a time of significant urban renewal.
"My concern with enhanced guidelines is now we are going to see a further requirement on developments ... combined with the design review panel this could potentially delay projects that weren't expecting delays."
The ACT Greens planning spokeswoman Caroline Le Couteur said the party welcomed earlier consultation but it was unclear, at this stage, the effect of the changes.
"It's not clear from the government's announcement today what the improvements to pre-DA consultations will look like in practice," she said.
"That said, the Greens have always argued that more consultation with community, the earlier - if we're to deliver a more sustainable Canberra now and into the future."
The changes will be implemented in the coming months.