On 20 October 2016, the Queensland Government released the draft South East Queensland Regional Plan and associated regulations (Draft Plan) for public consultation. The release of the Draft Plan follows an extensive review of the current South East Queensland Regional Plan 2009-2031.
The Draft Plan outlines the Queensland Government’s 50 year vision for the future of South East Queensland (SEQ), identifying broad strategic goals which will underpin and inform the future framework for planning and development in SEQ. Its aim is to manage the region’s population growth, which has been estimated to increase by 2 million people by 2041, in a sustainable and sensible way.
There is a strong focus on encouraging infill development and urban regeneration, and providing medium and high density living in areas with established infrastructure. Additionally, there is a focus on making enhancements to existing trunk infrastructure while providing new infrastructure only when it is needed to support development and economic growth. However, the Draft Plan does not include detail as to how new development and infrastructure projects will be funded or delivered (ie through the creation of new charges or levies) or whether existing infrastructure charging powers will continue to apply.
According to the Draft Plan, urban development outside the prescribed urban footprint will, in many cases, be precluded. The Draft Plan focuses on unlocking land that has been designated for urban development, but that has to date been underutilised. The benchmarks for urban development have been adjusted with 60% of new development to be infill and 40% greenfield development. The Draft Plan seeks to increase housing diversity and places an emphasis on medium and high density housing options in urban areas with established infrastructure.
The Queensland Government will move to monitor local planning schemes and the region’s supply of land through the Land Supply and Development Monitoring Program. Local governments will be required to have a minimum 15 year land supply which has been zoned and is able to be serviced. However, the Draft Plan allows for the extension of the urban footprint where benchmarks may not be met and to ease pressure on housing supply and affordability. Local governments may designate land for urban use that is outside of the urban footprint where they have demonstrated a measurable local need and regional justification for the proposal.
The Draft Plan seeks to maximise the use of existing infrastructure and identifies new “region-shaping infrastructure” to support social and economic needs. Delivery of region-shaping infrastructure will be prioritised by the Queensland Government, and includes:
- extensions to existing passenger transport trunk corridors (busway, rail and light rail);
- Cross River Rail project and the Inland Rail project; and
- new trunk corridors for passenger transport (principally for the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast).
The Queensland Government’s infrastructure plan gives effect to the Government’s aim to encourage infill development in urban areas, to reduce car dependency and promote public and active transportation.
The Draft Plan has identified two key areas of regional interest in SEQ:
- priority agricultural areas (PAA); and
- priority living areas (PLA).
The PAAs and PLAs may be a hurdle to resource activities, including extractive industry activities, within the region.
Mapped priority agricultural areas are taken to be the region’s most important areas for agricultural production. Various priority agricultural land uses (PALU) have also been identified within a PAA. Where a resource activity wishes to operate in an area with a PALU it must first be demonstrated that the resource activity is able to coexist with the agricultural activity without impacting current or future operations of the agricultural activity.
Further, the entire SEQ region is identified as a PLA and the development of population supporting assets and living areas will be prioritised over resource activities.
Public comment on the Draft Plan is open until March 2017.