In the wake of the devastating 2011 floods that inundated parts of South East Queensland, the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry recommended that a comprehensive flood study of the Brisbane River catchment be undertaken. In a reflection of the time consuming nature of the exercise, the Deputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure and Planning, Jackie Trad, this month announced that the Brisbane River Catchment Flood Study is now complete.

The Flood Study, which is a collaborative effort between State government and the councils for Brisbane, Ipswich, Somerset and Lockyer Valley, comprises almost 3,000 pages of technical information, including computerised models, maps and charts. It will assist local governments to better understand the types of flood events that are likely to occur within their local government areas in the future and this will assist them to amend their planning schemes so that land use and development is able to be properly regulated, having regard to the risk posed by flood.

While the full extent of the likely changes to the four council’s planning schemes is not yet known, it is expected that Q100 flood lines will be redrawn in many areas, while land which was not previously considered to be flood prone may end up being reclassified as flood prone. This will have clear implications for the property development industry.

Developer’s landholdings, or land that has previously been earmarked for development, may be subject to changes to a planning scheme’s flood provisions and assessment criteria. For landowners and proponents whose land may be affected, factors to consider include whether development yield is likely to be affected as a result of a reduction in developable area, or whether there is likely to be increased costs to improve the land in order to achieve an acceptable level of flood immunity.

It is intended that the Flood Study will underpin the development of a Strategic Floodplain Management Plan, that when completed, will, in addition to the State Planning Policy, provide direction to local governments when drafting or amending their planning schemes and in assessing development applications.

It is anticipated that community consultation will be undertaken during 2017 and will seek comment on the issues of safety, emergency response, as well as land use management, as part of the process for devising the Strategic Floodplain Management Plan. It is envisaged that the development of the Strategic Floodplain Management Plan will be a prelude to the subsequent development of Local Floodplain Management Plans.

Given it is the first time that a flood study has been undertaken that transcends the four local government boundaries, there is perhaps an opportunity for standardisation in respect of the drafting of the Local Floodplain Management Plans and planning scheme amendments, as well as for harmonisation in respect of provisions that apply to land straddling local government boundaries.

The information contained in the Flood Study will also assist councils to manage their web-based flood resources that are available to the public. Brisbane City’s Flood Awareness Map was last updated on Friday 5 May 2017, to include the Flood Study data. Owners of Brisbane properties can check how their land may have been affected as a result of the updated data at http://floodinformation.brisbane.qld.gov.au/fio.

For more information of the Flood Study visit the website of the Queensland Reconstruction Authority at http://qldreconstruction.org.au.