The Queensland Government is currently reviewing its planning policy to reflect state interests. 

As part of delivering a new planning system through the Planning Act 2016, which will commence in 2017, the Queensland Government is currently conducting a planning policy review of:

  • the State Planning Policy (SPP);
  • the State Development Assessment Provisions (SDAP); and
  • the new Planning Regulation.

The result of this review is fairly extensive changes to the instruments, which are all now open for public consultation until 10 February 2017.

These changes are to ensure that the new planning system is as efficient as possible and reflects the government's priorities, which include: affordable and social housing, climate change (including planning for renewable energy), coastal planning, cultural heritage, urban design, transport and infrastructure, and economic growth. These priorities form the basis of the 17 "state interests" which have been incorporated into the policy instruments.

State Planning Policy

The SPP is the pre-eminent state planning instrument. Its primary purpose is to guide local governments in preparing and amending their planning schemes, to ensure that matters of significance to the State are considered and that plans to support these interests are implemented.

The proposed changes are intended to ensure that the SPP will be relevant for development assessment in situations where a council planning scheme does not appropriately integrate the SPP. In order to facilitate this, 17 state interests in land use, planning and development have been identified and incorporated into the SPP, and are to be considered in the context of the amended guiding principles expressed in Part C.

Some of the key changes are:

  • a new state interest has been included to ensure better alignment of land use planning and infrastructure planning;
  • better protection of key extractive resource areas;
  • greater focus on affordability of housing; and
  • express protection of the Great Barrier Reef Catchment.

State Development Assessment Provisions

The SDAP is a statutory planning instrument that defines the State's interests in development assessment and contains matters that the chief executive of the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, through the State Assessment and Referral Agency, must consider when assessing a development application (as either assessment manager or referral agency).

The SDAP is structured in a performance based code format, whereby applicants can address performance criteria to demonstrate that a development appropriately manages any impacts on a matter of state interest, and/or protects a development from impacts of matters of state interest.

In addition to ensuring consistency across the drafting of the state-wide codes, the proposed changes aim to improve the structure and ease of application. There are also a number of changes to policy, which include:

  • a new code relating to urban design outcomes for significant projects;
  • new provisions relating to development in proximity to railways including vibration emissions, collision protection and throw protection;
  • revisions to the coastal development and tidal works code to provide more comprehensive criteria to acknowledge climate change;
  • revisions to the cultural heritage code to provide for a broader range of assessment criteria;
  • policy and terminology change from "major hazard facilities" to "hazardous chemical facilities" which expands the role of the state for these types of facilities; and
  • refining the assessment of unexploded ordnance to only those sites identified as having "substantial" potential.

Planning Regulation

The Planning Regulation is be the key piece of subordinate legislation and as a result of the review, a number of key improvements have been proposed. These include changes to:

  • refine referral triggers, notably, in relation to: urban design, state transport corridors, coastal development and Brisbane core port land;
  • consolidate the state's planning regulatory requirements (eg. statewide codes); and
  • refine the development assessment roles between local and state governments.

How you can be involved in the planning policy review process

Fact sheets and copies of the draft instruments can be downloaded from the Queensland Government Planning Reform website. The changes will continue to be refined and are expected come into effect with the commencement of the Planning Act 2016.

Submissions need to be made by 5pm on February 10, 2017.