The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have significant impacts on the community, including the development industry.

Since 2020, the Queensland Government has implemented measures to assist with mitigating issues faced by development industry as a consequence of the pandemic. This includes extending the statutory timeframes under the Planning Act 2016 (Qld) with respect to the currency period for development approvals and compliance permits under Section 85 and Section 299(2), as well as for development approval periods for completion of development under Section 88 and Section 342.

In this article, Partner Sarah Macoun, Senior Associate Olivia Williamson and Solicitor Ella Hooper outline the timeline of events and how to identify whether your development approval benefits from the extension notices.

Timeline of events

  1. On 21 July 2020, the Queensland Government issued an extension notice to extend the currency period for development approvals for six months (First Extension Notice). The First Extension Notice had effect from 8 July 2020 to 31 October 2020. The Queensland Government provided guidance as to how the First Extension Notice operated. Essentially, any development approval in effect as at 8 July 2020, or an approval that came into effect before 31 October 2020, had its currency period extended by an additional six months.
  2. On 1 September 2021, the Queensland Government issued a second extension notice to extend the currency period for development approvals for a further six months (Second Extension Notice). The Second Extension Notice was in force for a period between 1 September 2021 to 30 September 2021. The Second Extension Notice operates in a similar way as the first, meaning that any development approval in effect as at 1 September 2021, or an approval that came into effect before 30 September 2021, had its currency period extended by an additional six months.
  3. Most recently, on 29 April 2022, the Queensland Government issued a third extension notice to extend the currency period for development approvals for twelve months (Third Extension Notice). The Third Extension Notice has effect from 29 April 2022 to 24 June 2022. The effect of the Third Extension Notice is that any development approval or compliance permit in effect as at 29 April 2022, or an approval that comes into effect before 24 June 2022, will automatically have its currency period extended by an additional twelve months.

To assist with understanding how the Third Extension Notices interacts with the previous extension notices, the Queensland Government has released this factsheet. This factsheet expressly states that “where a development approval had received any of the previous six-month extension notices given by the Planning Minister in July 2020 and/or September 2021, and was still in effect on 29 April 2022, this extension applies in addition to the previous extensions already provided.

Some development approvals could benefit from up to a 24 month extension to the currency period. For example, if a local government approved a development permit for material change of use which took effect on 30 July 2020 and it did not state otherwise, ordinarily under the Planning Act 2016 (Qld) that approval would lapse at the end of six years after the approval starts to have effect if the first change of use has not happened. By virtue of the First Extension Notice, the currency period of this approval was extended however for an additional six months (ie a currency period of six years, six months). By virtue of the Second Extension Notice, the currency period of this approval was further extended for an additional six months. Finally, by virtue of the Third Extension Notice, the currency period for this approval was further extended for an additional 12 months (in total, a currency period of eight years, comprising six years + six months + six months + 12 months). Importantly, we note that the extension notices do not:

  • (a) apply to building development approvals for building works to which Section 71 of the Building Act 1975 applies;
  • (b) revive development approvals that had lapsed before they were made; and
  • (c) apply in addition to an extension application decision that is given after 29 April 2022.