Australia: One policy to rule them all: Queensland's single State Planning Policy

Key Points:

Although existing development applications will continue to be assessed under the existing policies, the Single SPP will be relevant for development applications that have not been decided when it commences.

The Queensland Government has released the draft single State Planning Policy (Single SPP) for public consultation, with submissions closing on 12 June 2013. The Single SPP aims to simplify and clarify the State's interests in the planning and development system by replacing the current individual state planning policies, with one single, comprehensive policy.

The Single SPP is stated to be a key framework of the State Government's planning reform in Queensland, which together with the introduction of the State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA), is intended to lead to greater certainty, fewer unnecessary delays and better planning outcomes. The Single SPP is intended to express the State's interest in planning and development in one document, and encourage flexible, innovative and locally appropriate approaches to planning.

Queensland's current system of State Planning Policies

A State Planning Policy (SPP) is a State planning instrument made by the Government under the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (SPA) and sets out the State's policies on matters of State interest. A SPP is a statutory instrument, and applies throughout the State unless it specifies otherwise.

SPPs must be reflected in a local government planning schemes, and until this occurs, are used in the planning and development assessment and decision processes by concurrence agencies and assessment managers (for impact assessment) under SPA. A SPP prevails over a local government's planning scheme to the extent of any inconsistency.

There are currently 12 SPPs and 1 temporary SPP in effect in Queensland. These cover a range of individual state interests including, strategic cropping land (SCL), good quality agricultural land (GQAL), wetlands of high ecological significance in Great Barrier Reef catchments and the conservation of koala populations in South East Queensland.

Temporary SPP 2/12 – Planning for Prosperity is also currently in effect and foreshadows many of the themes expanded upon in the Single SPP.

The Single SPP

The Single SPP addresses 18 State interests, grouped under five themes:

  • housing and liveable communities: amenity and community wellbeing; land development and housing supply;
  • economic growth: agriculture; development and construction; mining and extractive resources; tourism;
  • environment and heritage: biodiversity; coastal environment; cultural heritage; healthy waters;
  • hazards and safety: air, noise and other emissions; hazardous materials; natural hazards; and
  • transport and infrastructure: State infrastructure and services; State transport infrastructure and networks; strategic airports and aviation facilities; strategic ports; water supply catchments and infrastructure.

The Single SPP identifies principles and implementation strategies relating to each State interest, which a local government must have regard to when making or amending planning schemes.

The Single SPP is supported by a number of guidelines and mapping products, some of which are still under development and not available for consultation. The guidelines contain a mixture of mandatory and guidance information. In considering how the SPP is to be reflected in a planning scheme, or considered through development assessment, those guidelines should be considered by proponents.

The Single SPP provides that even though some developments are not regulated by SPA (eg. mining), due regard and construction should be given to state and local planning instruments, including the SPP and regional plans. This statement will need to be considered in the context of the decision making criteria of the relevant legislation.

The Single SPP has a heavy focus on protection of the integrity of the intent of zones, and reducing the level of assessment to the extent appropriate for the appropriate zone (eg. industrial and commercial uses are to have the lowest appropriate level of assessment in industry and commercial zones).

The Single SPP sets out planning requirements for economically significant industries, most of which are identified through accompanying mapping, including agricultural land, areas that are identified as having valuable mineral, petroleum and coal resources, tourism assets and values and industrial land uses. A heavy focus of the Single SPP is on considering whether the proposed development can co-exist with economically important industries, and protection of the integrity of economically important industry.

The Single SPP also provides development assessment considerations for environmental and cultural protection areas, including biodiversity (including strategic offset areas), development in the coastal zone and cultural heritage areas.

Significantly, the existing SPP1/03: Mitigating the Adverse Impacts of Flood, Bushfire and Landslide, which was the subject of a number of recommendations from the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry, is also incorporated into the Single SPP.

The Single SPP requires detailed consideration of natural hazards, and incorporates "mandatory requirements" which specify mandatory features of each policy element that are required to be incorporated in planning instruments, including requirements for flood hazard mapping.

Application of the State interests

Once commenced, the Single SPP will need to be applied:

  • by local governments when making or amending their local planning schemes; and assessing impact assessable development applications, where a planning scheme has not been amended to reflect the SPP;
  • by a concurrence agency, within the limits of its jurisdiction (although the Single SPP assumes that SARA is in effect, and consolidates all concurrence agency roles);
  • by a Minister of the State when designating land for community infrastructure under SPA; and
  • by the State when making or amending a regional plan.

Where there is a conflict between State interests, the Single SPP provides that consideration needs to be given to a resolution that best achieves and advances the purpose of SPA. The Single SPP sets out three objectives as a guide to manage competing interests and priorities:

  • the State interests must be considered in their entirety;
  • innovative and locally appropriate solutions must be supported; and
  • local governments must be empowered and supported to make the best planning decisions for their communities.

In addition to these three objectives, the Single SPP recognises that there may be sufficient grounds to depart from a provision relating to a State interest where there is an overriding need in the public interest, to do so. Overriding need may arise if:

  1. the overall social, economic or environmental benefits of the development or decision outweigh:
    1. any overall detrimental effect upon the social, economic or environmental values of the land and adjacent areas; and
    2. the development or decision advances the purpose of SPA and the principles outlined in the Single SPP;
  1. the development cannot reasonably be located elsewhere so as to avoid conflict.

Further information about the Single SPP is available on the Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning's website.

Coastal protection

In addition to the Single SPP, the State Government's Coastal Protection State Planning Regulatory Provision (Coastal SPRP) came into effect on 26 April 2013.

The Coastal SPRP suspends the operation of SPP 3/11: Coastal Protection. Properly made development applications made on or after 26 April 2013 are to be assessed against the development assessment provisions contained in the Coastal SPRP.

The Coastal SPRP is intended to be in effect until the Single SPP commences later in 2013.


Although existing development applications will continue to be assessed under the existing policies, the Single SPP will be relevant for development applications that have not been decided when it commences.

As a number of local governments are currently in the process of amending and making new planning schemes, the Single SPP will need to be considered through that process. Development assessment will be simplified to some extent where the Single SPP is noted as appropriately reflected in the planning scheme.

It is expected that the Single SPP will be finalised in the latter half of this year.

You might also be interested in...

Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this bulletin. Persons listed may not be admitted in all states and territories.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.