Brisbane City Council published a draft City Centre neighbourhood plan in August 2015, as part of the implementation of the City Centre Master Plan 2014, which is geared among other things to facilitate the construction of 50 new towers over the next 20 years in the City Centre.

Expansion of City Centre Neighbourhood Plan boundary

The draft Plan contemplates the expansion of the City Centre Neighbourhood Plan boundary to comprise five precincts including Retail, Queen’s Wharf, River, as well as two new additions, Howard Smith Wharves, and Quay Street.

The New Farm and Teneriffe Hill Neighbourhood Plan and the Milton Neighbourhood Plan are to be amended to reflect the incorporation of the Howard Smith Wharves and Quay Street areas into the City Centre.

The Quay Street Precinct is to be rezoned from MU1 Mixed Use (Inner City) Zone to PC1 Principal Centre (City Centre) Zone.

Changes to height limits

The proposal seeks to remove height and GFA limits for new buildings proposed in the Retail, Queen’s Wharf, and River precincts whose site area is over 3000m². However, overarching height controls imposed by civil aviation regulators, Airservices Australia and CASA, will limit a tower’s height to 274m, until such time as the stance of these regulatory bodies is relaxed for the CBD.

Other notable changes

Heritage Overlays

The draft City Centre neighbourhood plan seeks to amend the level of assessment with respect to reconfiguring a lot in the Local heritage place sub-category or the State heritage place sub-category. Specifically, if land so-categorised is in the City Centre neighbourhood plan area, the application will be code assessable, whereas land so-categorised that is not in the City Centre neighbourhood plan area will be subject to impact assessment.

Key Planning Outcomes

While the draft Plan is no doubt underpinned by a desire to increase urban densities in the City Centre, it is not envisaged to be at the expense of amenity, particularly with respect to pedestrians. In this regard, the Plan articulates its goals in the following planning-speak:

  • Activating the ground plane and delivering permeable ‘street buildings’. Emphasis on street buildings to better activate the street.
  • Emphasis on laneways, arcades and small scale spaces to deliver improved public realm and pedestrian permeability.

It remains to be seen whether the revised assessment criteria will result in the actualisation of the outcomes sought by the Plan, particularly with respect to permeability (connectivity) that town planners rightly covet in their pursuit of creating pedestrian-friendly cities with qualities such as vibrant laneways, etc, but the objective is laudable. Perhaps Council should consider tailoring urban design bonus provisions for projects which display, in addition to architectural merit, outstanding design elements for the streetscape.

Queens Wharf

The Queens Wharf precinct boundary reflects the Queens Wharf Brisbane Priority Development Area (QBW PDA) that was declared under the Economic Development Act in 2014. A draft Development Scheme for the QWB PDA is currently on public display, with submissions closing on 21 September 2015. Upon commencement, the Development Scheme will replace the QWB PDA Interim Land Use Plan.

The draft Development Scheme was prepared in consultation with Brisbane City Council and no conflict of laws issue is likely to arise with the City Centre Neighbourhood Plan, as the Development Scheme will prevail to the extent of an inconsistency.


Council will be taking submissions on the draft plan until 5pm on Wednesday, September 30 2015. If you would like to discuss your submission on a confidential basis prior to lodgement, please contact us for a no obligation discussion.