Key issues:

  • On 21 July 2019, the State Government released for consultation a draft “Model code for neighbourhood design” together with an overview document titled “Creating healthy and active communities”.
  • The draft Model Code encourages connected and active neighbourhoods through street linkages, footpaths with shade trees and better access to parks and public open spaces by proposing mandatory planning scheme provisions.
  • The State has flagged that parts of the draft Model Code could become mandatory. Depending on the nature of submissions received, it is possible that the new Model Code standards could be in effect before the end of 2019.

On 21 July 2019, the State Government released for consultation a draft “Model code for neighbourhood design” together with an overview document titled “Creating healthy and active communities”.

The draft Model Code encourages connected and active neighbourhoods through street linkages, footpaths with shade trees and better access to parks and public open space by proposing mandatory planning scheme provisions relating to street layouts, cul-de-sacs and footpaths.

The draft Model Code includes a Purpose, Overall Outcomes and a number of Performance Outcomes and Acceptable Outcomes. Major elements of the proposed new Model Code include:

  • Walkable neighbourhoods to be structured on tree-lined grid-like street networks with a limited number of cul-de-sacs permitted;
  • Street blocks being limited to 200 metres with any block greater than 130 metres to incorporate a mid-block pedestrian link;
  • Parks located within 400 metres from the residents they serve;
  • Minimum 1.5 metre wide footpaths on one side of every street;
  • Street trees to be provided in association with footpaths; and
  • No more than 20% of new allotments to be in cul-de-sacs, with any that exist having to be connected with pathways for bikes and pedestrians.

There are also performance and acceptable outcomes relating to shape of lots, lot frontages (including reserve widths, driveway location, pavement widths, footpath and kerb types), proximity to public transport, on-street car parking and services.

The State has flagged that parts of the draft Model Code could become mandatory.

One tension that is immediately apparent in the provisions is the desire for a grid pattern street design (to encourage ease of movement and walkability) on the one hand but a performance outcome seeking to ensure that local streets do not operate as through traffic routes for externally generated traffic on the other.

Early commentators have cautioned that cul-de-sacs do not necessarily equate with poor design, noting that there are safety and community reasons why some Queenslanders prefer to live in a cul-de-sac such as the ability to participate in active and healthy activities like playing street cricket or bike riding.

Submissions on the draft Code (including comments on what elements of the code ought to be mandatory) can be made until 1 September 2019. To find out more information, to complete a short survey or to lodge a submission regarding the State Government’s proposal, please go to the State’s Have Your Say page.

Depending on the nature of submissions received, it is possible that the new Model Code standards could be in effect before the end of 2019.