Key issues

The Deputy Premier, Jackie Trad MP, has released the Palaszczuk government’s new agenda for reform of the Queensland planning and development system. The new government has affirmed its commitment to implementing major reform to deliver Australia’s best planning system but in doing so has signalled some significant changes in direction to the reforms proposed by the former Newman government. These include:

  1. A greater focus on the engagement and participation of the community in the planning system.
  2. Enhancing community and industry confidence and certainty in decision making.
  3. Supporting local government performance and implementation.

Background

A range of planning reform was progressed under the former government culminating with the introduction of bills for new planning legislation tabled in Parliament in late 2014. These bills lapsed with the calling of the state election in early 2015 and following the change of government, there has been a period of uncertainty as the new government has considered its position with respect to future planning reform.

New agenda

The Better Planning for Queensland – Next Steps in Planning Reform Directions Paper has been released outlining the Palaszczuk government’s planning reform agenda. The directions paper flags five key areas of reform to create a better planning and development assessment framework:

  1. Enable better strategic planning and high quality development outcomes.
  2. Ensure effective public participation and engagement in the planning framework.
  3. Create an open, transparent and accountable planning system that delivers investment and community confidence.
  4. Create legislation that has a practical structure and clearly expresses how land use planning and development assessment will be done in Queensland
  5. Support local governments to adapt and adopt the changes.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the extensive consultation undertaken by the former government with stakeholders, many of the overarching reforms continue or are consistent with the previous reform proposals. However, the new government has signalled some arguably significant shifts in direction.

In particular, there is a much greater focus on promoting community engagement and public participation in both plan making and development assessment and ensuring that the planning system delivers confidence and certainty in relation to planning outcomes.

Based on the directions paper, there will be a greater emphasis on ensuring the planning system provides straightforward and clear direction to the community while providing certainty to industry about development outcomes to support investment.

In a move likely to be welcomed by local governments, the directions paper proposes that meaningful support be provided to local governments to implement the new legislation and associated reforms.

Previous reforms

Key reforms introduced by the former government will be retained including the:

  • State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA).
  • State Planning Policy (SPP).
  • State Development Assessment Provisions (SDAP).

Next steps

The directions paper indicates that the government will proceed with a package of legislative reforms comprising:

  • A main planning bill that sets up the improved planning and development system.
  • A courts bill that separates out the establishment of the Planning and Environment Court.
  • A third bill that deals with technical and consequential amendments to related legislation.

Draft planning legislation is proposed to be prepared for broad community consultation before being tabled in Parliament by October 2015 with the new legislation intended to commence in the second half of 2016.

The discussion paper can be accessed here:

http://www.dilgp.qld.gov.au/resources/planning/directions-paper/better-planning-directions-paper.pdf