On 25 May 2015, the Government released the Better Planning for Queensland directions paper (Directions Paper) which outlines the future direction of planning and development in Queensland. The Directions Paper also indicates that the Government is committed to continuing the reform initiated by the previous government.

Key priorities

The Government will soon commence community consultation, which will direct and inform the nature of the reforms.The Directions Paper provides some insight into the Government’s key objectives and priorities. For example, the Government aims to:

  1. introduce a simplified and streamlined legislative regime;
  2. simplify the community infrastructure designation assessment process;
  3. wind back changes made to SPA’s cost provisions and remove the Planning and Environment Court’s discretion to award costs; and
  4. formulate a statutory guideline to introduce new community engagement standards.

According to the Directions Paper, many of the core concepts that underpin the current legislative regime will be retained, such as third party appeal rights for notifiable development and the requirement to obtain land owner consent prior to lodging development applications. However the treatment of state owned land, servient tenement, and acquisition land will be the subject of further consultation.

Future direction

As recently highlighted in an Infrastructure Australia audit report, population growth and managing transport infrastructure bottlenecks in South-East – Queensland are two key challenges facing State and local government authorities. Plan making under the new regime will need to focus on these challenges to provide vital future direction.

A Draft Bill will be made available for community consultation prior to being tabled in Parliament in October.  While there will new opportunities for stakeholders impacted by the reforms to make submissions, the Government has stated that all submissions made in respect of the lapsed Planning and Development Bill 2014 were considered.

Further information on the content and timing of the reform is likely to be released in the coming months. The Government has indicated that a new planning regime may commence in the second half of 2016.