Three draft bills released yesterday for public consultation represent the Queensland Government's much anticipated planning reform proposal.

The Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning is seeking submissions by 23 October 2015 on the:

  • Draft Planning Bill 2015, which would repeal the current Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (SPA);
  • Draft Planning and Environment Court Bill 2015 (P&E Court Bill); and
  • Draft Planning (Consequential) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 (Consequential Amendments Bill).

In particular, the Department is seeking specific feedback on:

  • the options for advancing the purpose of the Planning Bill;
  • compensation arrangements in relation to natural hazards. It is proposed that compensation will not be available for a planning change that reduces the value of an interest in premises, where the change is made to reduce the risk to persons or property from natural events;
  • assessment categories and decision rules; and
  • transitional arrangements for existing applications, and local planning instruments.

We will be providing a full briefing note in the next few days. In the meantime, we set out below some of our immediate observations on the Bills.

State and local planning instruments:

  • The only State planning instruments will be the State Planning Policy (SPP) and the Regional Plans (State Planning Regulatory Provisions and the Queensland Planning Provisions are proposed to be removed);
  • The local instruments will remain as planning schemes, temporary local planning instruments and planning scheme policies. Temporary local planning instruments will have a life of up to two years.

Development assessment system:

  • The development assessment process will be in development assessment rules, a separate statutory instrument to be made by the Minister;
  • The State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA) will continue to be the assessment manager or referral agency for development applications where the State has jurisdiction;

Categories of development assessment

  • Categories of development assessment are accepted, assessable and prohibited.
  • While the terminology is still to be settled, assessable assessment will be split into two categories being standard/code and merit/impact;
  • Public notification is still required for development applications requiring merit/impact assessment.

The Planning and Environment Court is continued in a separate Bill, with a return to each party bearing its own costs in a proceeding, except in prescribed circumstances.

The Planning Bill will extend the current statutory timeframe for the making of a Local Government Infrastructure Plan (LGIP) to 1 July 2018.

In relation to offences and enforcement, the Planning Bill will establish inspectors and their powers in relation to entry and enforcement.

While the Bills contain transitional provisions, they are preliminary only, and will be developed further as the Bills near completion.

In addition to the Bills, the Department has also released a number of supporting instruments:

  • Draft process of making and amending local planning instruments;
  • Draft Infrastructure Guidelines; and
  • Draft Development Assessment Rules.

According to the Department, these supporting instruments will not be consulted on until after the introduction of the Bills into Parliament.

A copy of the Bills and details on how to make a submission can be found at the Department's website.