The Planning Act is expected to commence on 3 July 2017, bringing with it a new regulatory planning framework for Queensland.

This article is the first in a series which will examine the key provisions of the new Planning Act 2016 and how it may impact upon you and existing or future development.

How does the new Planning Act affect you?

The Act is expected to commence on 3 July 2017, bringing with it a new regulatory planning framework for Queensland. On commencement, the Act will repeal and replace the current Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (SPA).

While the Act offers a new structure and introduces some new supporting instruments, many of the existing planning and development concepts familiar to uses of the SPA are retained albeit with some modifications.

Not all concepts from the SPA have made their way to the new Act however, with the State Planning Regulatory Provisions, Queensland Planning Provisions as well as compliance assessment and permits notably absent. Arrangements for how this will work on commencement of the Act will be covered in the new regulation.

How the Act works?

Broadly the Act is structured around three main elements: plan making, development assessment and dispute resolution. Similar to SPA, the State and local governments will share responsibility for delivery.

The Act is to be supported by other legislation, including the Planning and Environment Court Act 2016 and the Planning (Consequential) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2016.

In addition, in order to interpret the Act you will also need to have regard to the following supporting information:

  • the Planning Regulation 2017 (the Regulation);
  • State planning instruments being the State Planning Policy and Regional Plans;
  • Local planning instruments being planning schemes, temporary local planning instruments and local planning scheme policies; and
  • Other statutory instruments including the new Development Assessment Rules (DA Rules) and the Minister's Guidelines and Rules.

Categories of development that will be assessable

Like the SPA, the Act provides that development which is categorised as assessable will require a development approval before it can be lawfully carried out. While development still means carrying out:

  • building work; or
  • plumbing or drainage work; or
  • ·operational work; or
  • reconfiguring a lot; or
  • making a material change of use of premises,

there has been some modification made to the definitions of building work, operational work and material change of use.

Development is now categorised as assessable through a categorising instrument which includes the Regulation and a local government planning scheme, among others.

In addition to assessable development, a categorising instrument can categorise development as prohibited (for which a development application cannot be made) or as accepted development (for which a development approval is not required).

Development assessment

Unlike the IDAS process that was prescribed in the SPA, the Act sets out a framework for the new planning assessment system and provides for the creation of the DA Rules, which separately set out the assessment process that must be followed when:

  • an applicant makes, changes or withdraws a development application; and
  • the assessment manager and any referral agency, assesses and decides a development application.

Transitional provisions

On commencement a number of transitional provisions will apply to existing development applications, approvals and planning instruments, namely:

  • the SPA will continue to apply to a development application that was made before but not decided on commencement of the Act;
  • a use of premises that was lawful before commencement will continue to be lawful after commencement; and
  • development approvals, infrastructure agreements, designations and planning instruments in effect on commencement of the Act will continue to have effect as if the document had been made under the Act;

As noted above, the State Planning Regulatory Provisions and Queensland Planning Provisions will cease to have effect on commencement.

In our next article we take a closer look at the State and local planning instruments, the Minister's powers and compensation provisions under the Act.