The National Capital Plan is prepared and administered by the National Capital Authority under the Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988 (Cwlth). The National Capital Plan is the strategic plan for Canberra and the Territory and ensures that 'Canberra and the Territory are planned and developed in accordance with their national significance.' The key matters of national significance include:
The National Capital Plan establishes a broad framework broad planning principles and policies for land use and development for Canberra and the Territory. It also sets out detailed conditions of planning, design and development for the 'Designated Areas' because of their particular importance to the special character of the national capital. These areas are considered by the Commonwealth to be of particular importance to maintaining the special characteristics of the National Capital. Within Designated Areas responsibility for development controls rests with the National Capital Authority. Designated Areas comprise Canberra’s system of Inner Hills and Ridges, the Main Avenues and Approach Routes to the city, and the Central National Area, including the Parliamentary Zones and environs, the diplomatic areas, Lake Burley Grifﬁn and its foreshores, and the main national institutions and symbols of Commonwealth governance. All development and works proposed within the Designated Areas require approval by the National Capital Authority.