The State government has released a new draft State Planning Policy (draft SPP) which is intended to comprehensively address all State interests for making or amending local planning instruments and regional plans and assessing certain development applications, replacing 13 existing State Planning Policies. The single State Planning Policy plays a central part in the State government’s reform of Queensland’s planning system, which is to be further progressed through the introduction of a State Assessment and Referral Agency, the roll out of new regional plans and changes to the local infrastructure contributions framework. This paper sets out the critical aspects of the draft SPP for making or amending a local planning instrument and the assessment of a development application by a local government.  

Overview of the draft SPP
 
The draft SPP is comprised of 3 components:
  • Part A: Introduction and policy context;
  • Part B: Application and operation;
  • Part C: The State interests.
Parts A and B form statutory components of the policy, except if identified as an editor’s note, while Part C comprises both statutory and non-statutory information.
 
Given the State government’s intention to replace the current State planning policies with the new SPP, the table below outlines the relationship between the current State planning policies and how they are reflected in the State interests identified in Part C of the draft SPP.
 
Relationship between current State planning policies and the State interests identified in the draft SPP
 
Click here to view table.
 
New State interests identified in the draft SPP include the following:
  • Amenity and community wellbeing;
  • Cultural heritage;
  • State infrastructure and services;
  • State transport infrastructure and networks;
  • Strategic ports;
  • Water supply catchments and infrastructure.
Part A: Introduction and policy context
 
Whilst all of the information in Part A is statutory content, much of the information will not be applicable to the making or amending of a local planning instrument or the assessment of a development application by a local government.
 
The critical aspects to be aware of in Part A are as follows:
 
  • Table 1: Principles, which identifies principles and implementation strategies that are designed to support and guide the development of efficient and effective planning instruments;
  • the three objectives to be followed as a guide to manage competing interests and priorities, including any conflict arising between State interests;
  • the circumstances in which there could be an overriding need in the public interest such that there may be sufficient grounds to depart from the statutory content in Part C.
Part B: Application and operation
 
Part B of the draft SPP indicates when the SPP applies. Importantly, whilst the SPP always applies to the making or amending of a local planning instrument, the SPP only applies to the assessment of a development application by a local government in the circumstances mentioned in Part C, to the extent the SPP is not identified in the planning scheme or a regional plan as being appropriately reflected in the planning scheme or the regional plan.
 
Part C: The State interests
 
Part C of the draft SPP identifies:
  • how a local planning instrument is to reflect the SPP for each State interest, and in certain instances, when the State interest applies, for example, for natural hazards;
  • when the SPP applies to the assessment of a development application by a local government;
  • if the SPP applies to the assessment of a development application by a local government, the requirements for the assessment of the development application for the relevant State interest.
For making or amending a local planning instrument, the local government is to have regard to the principles identified in Part A, Table 1: Principles. It is noted that a local government only needs to have regard to the principles, which suggests that consistency with the principles in making or amending a local planning instrument is not mandatory.
 
As identified in Part B, not all of the State interests in Part C are to be considered by a local government in the assessment of a development application. Careful regard must be had to the circumstances in which the SPP applies to the assessment of a development application by a local government as identified for specific State interests.
 
Making a submission for the draft SPP
 
Submissions for the draft SPP must be made to the Deputy Premier, Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning by 5pm on Wednesday 12 June 2013 and:
  • include the name and residential or business address of the submitter;
  • be made in writing and, unless the submission is made electronically, be signed by each person who has made the submission.