In brief

The new Labor Government has recently released the 'Better Planning for Queensland Directions Paper' (Directions Paper), which sets out a timeline for the delivery of planning reform in Queensland. The release of the Directions Paper follows the release of the Planning and Development Bill 2014 (PD Bill) in late 2014 by the previous LNP Government. Following the State election in January 2015, the PD Bill lapsed, and the Labor Government committed to delivering planning reform in Queensland.

The Directions Paper sets out a general timeline for the delivery of planning reform: legislation will be tabled in the Legislative Assembly in October 2015 (with draft legislation for public consultation to be released prior to that date), and the reforms are expected to commence in the second half of 2016.

Background

The PD Bill was introduced into the Legislative Assembly in November 2014, and if passed would have repealed the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (Qld) (SPA) and established a new planning and development framework in Queensland. The overall framework established by the PD Bill was broadly similar to that under the SPA, in a significantly streamlined package – see our previous article,1 for an outline of the PD Bill reforms.

Proposed reform

The structural reforms proposed in the Directions Paper are similar to that under the PD Bill. The SPA is to be repealed, and replaced with three pieces of legislation:

  • a main planning Act that sets up the planning and development framework,
  • a Planning and Environment Court Act which establishes the court, and
  • a broader amendment Act which makes necessary flow-on amendments to other legislation.

Reforms to the framework itself appear to be directed towards similar priorities of 'common-sense' reorganisation and red-tape reduction as the PD Bill. Some of the key reform priorities identified in the Directions Paper include:

  • continuing the State Assessment and Referral Agency, the State Planning Policy and the State Development Assessment Provisions,
  • simplifying the categories of development to accepted, assessable and prohibited development,
  • continuing submitter appeal rights for notifiable development,
  • introducing better processes for local government plan making,
  • providing development in a community infrastructure designation is exempt from state and local planning instruments,
  • restoring the previous costs jurisdiction in the Planning and Environment Court (i.e. each party bears its own costs except in particular circumstances),
  • removing unhelpful, obsolete or repetitive detail and prescription from the Act,
  • simplifying various technical requirements of the approvals process, and
  • providing practical support for local government (e.g. appropriate safeguards for local governments from claims for compensation regarding natural hazard risk management; extending timeframes for making a Local Government Infrastructure Plan).

What’s next?

Comments on the Directions Paper can be sent to the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning at bestplanning@dilgp.qld.gov.au.

Over the coming months the Government will release a detailed timetable for the reform process. The next major step, the release of the draft Planning Bill, is currently expected before October 2015.