Australia: Queensland's Temporary State Planning Policy is a precursor to a single combined policy

Planning Update (Australia)
Last Updated: 15 September 2012
Article by Mark Baker-Jones and Hannah Gassman

On Friday 24 August, the Temporary State Planning Policy 2/12 Planning for Prosperity (TSPP 2/12) came into effect. This is the first State Planning Policy from the new Queensland Government and it has received praise from industries bodies such as the Property Council of Australia and the Urban Development Institute of Australia. It is widely believed within these organisations that the policy will help to facilitate economic growth in Queensland through the planning system.

What is the difference between a State Planning Policy and a Temporary State Planning Policy?

State Planning Policies are concerned with protecting matters of state interest, for example, economic or environmental interests. They generally have a lifespan of 10 years. Temporary State Planning Policies are effective for 12 months or less. They are created when a Minister considers there is an urgent need to give effect or protection to a state interest (for the TSPP 2/12, this interest is the economy). Temporary State Planning Policies have the same effect as a normal State Planning Policy for the purposes of the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (Qld) (SPA). The key difference is that a temporary State Planning Policy is a short-term measure, to protect the state interest, so it does not require the public consultation process normally associated with a State Planning Policy.

TSPP 2/12 is different to the existing policies as it is the first policy to positively encourage growth and economic development, and support what the state has determined to be the four pillars of the Queensland economy. The Queensland Government has flagged that the TSPP 2/12 is the pre-cursor to a single State Planning Policy that will combine 14 existing State Planning Policies into one.

What does TSPP 2/12 actually do?

TSPP 2/12 articulates simple policies that support the four pillars of the economy, being agriculture, construction, mining and tourism, for the Queensland Government and the various local governments to consider.

TSPP 2/12 covers, for each of the four pillars, the following:

  1. It asks state agencies and local governments to:
    • Protect the land use - for example, if an area is zoned for agriculture, it is protected for agriculture
    • Protect the land use from incompatible land uses that conflict with the land use, for example a residential development adjacent to an area zoned for agriculture
    • Support the land use with infrastructure and services.
  1. Under the SPA, TSPP 2/12's policies apply to:
    • Planning scheme drafting
    • Regional plan drafting
    • The designation of land for community infrastructure.

However, the policies do not apply to a local government's assessment of development applications. The reason for this is to avoid adding further work to a local government's administrative tasks when assessing development applications.

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney has stated that this policy will ensure the focus is on planning outcomes, not planning processes or prescriptive requirements. For example, where land is zoned for agriculture or rural uses and an application is made for an agricultural use, TSPP 2/12 asks state agencies to give additional weight to those agricultural policies identified in Section 3 of the TSPP 2/12 that protect the use for agriculture. So, if the application is for an agricultural use in a rural zone, the state agency should find a way to support the application. Similarly for tourist development that complements an area's environmental, scenic and cultural values, the policies in Section 3 applicable to tourism should be given additional weight to support the application, and so forth.

How will the TSPP 2/12 affect planning?

TSPP 2/12 requires referral agencies (but not local government assessment managers) to apply the policy at the decision- making stage of assessment, with the aim of protecting land uses and reducing incompatible uses. TSPP 2/12 requires that any conflicts or competition between policies be resolved by giving additional weight to an agricultural use in an agricultural/rural zone, a tourism use in an appropriate tourism area, a mining use in a mining zone or equivalent and urban uses in urban areas.

As noted above, TSPP 2/12 is the pre-cursor to the Queensland Government's single State Planning Policy, which is scheduled to be released for public consultation in October 2012 and implemented in 2013.

While it may not appear that the TSPP 2/12 is currently having a great effect on the planning process at a development application level for local governments, it will ensure local governments reflect the policy in their new planning schemes currently being drafted.

What are the benefits of the TSPP 2/12?

The policy signals the Queensland Government's intention to support the four pillars of Queensland's economy - construction, mining, tourism and agriculture. The policy indicates that the Government will encourage innovative solutions to facilitate development and the removal of some costs to development.

The policy aims to 'speed not impede' development, allowing developers to maximise the economic potential of projects. The actual benefits will become more apparent once the proposed single State Planning Policy comes into effect.

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