Australia: Same, same but different: new Queensland planning bills introduced into Parliament

On Thursday November 12, 2015, Deputy Premier Hon Jackie Trad MP introduced the Planning Bill 2015, Planning and Environment Court Bill 2015 and Planning (Consequential) and Other Legislation Bill 2015 (Bills) into State parliament. The Bills aim to provide Queensland with an:

... efficient, effective, transparent, integrated, coordinated and accountable system of land use planning and development assessment to facilitate the achievement of ecological sustainability.

The Bills are the result of a community consultation process that commenced in September 2015 and will replace the current planning framework in Queensland.

What's new?

The form and content of the Bills have changed very little since they were released for public comment in September 2015. Of note is the abandoning of the development terms 'standard assessable' and 'merit assessable' in favour of the current terms, 'code assessable' and 'impact assessable'. The transitional provisions have also been further developed. It should also be noted that the final content of the supporting documents is yet to be revealed.

In terms of how the Bills differ from the current planning legislation, some of the key changes are as follows:

  • The number of state planning instruments is to be reduced from four to two by removing the State Planning Regulatory Provisions and the Standard Planning Scheme Provisions from the Bills.
  • The categories of development are to be changed to accepted, assessable and prohibited. Assessable development retains the sub-categories of code assessable and impact assessable.
  • Exemption certificates can be issued to certify that a development approval is not required for assessable development under certain circumstances.
  • Referral agencies will no longer be categorised as 'concurrence agencies' and 'advice agencies' and will exist under the 'catch all' name of simply referral agencies. Some referral agencies will be limited to providing advice only.
  • A local government (or the chief executive) may nominate another entity to be the assessment manager for code assessable developments.
  • The currency periods have been extended to six years for a material change of use, four years for a reconfiguration of a lot and two years for all other development. The concept of 'related approvals' (and 'rolling forward') has been retired.
  • The term 'minor change' now applies to both changes to development applications and development approvals. Scope is also provided for approvals to be changed if the change is not minor.
  • The test for a minor change will no longer require the proponent to consider whether a third party may make a properly made submission objecting to the change.
  • The Building and Development Dispute Resolution Committee is to be replaced by the Development Tribunal.
  • The current discretionary cost provisions of the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 are to be restricted and the general concept of each party bearing their own costs in Planning and Environment Court litigation is to be reintroduced.
  • Enforcement orders made by the Court are to be recorded on title and bind the owner and the owner's successors in title. An order may be removed by obtaining a compliance order.

The Bills will now go to the Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources Committee for review.

As mentioned above, key supporting documents have not been finalised, namely the:

  • development assessment rules (containing the new IDAS process);
  • planning making rules;
  • infrastructure designation rules; and
  • planning regulation.

The State Government intends to release these documents for public consultation for two weeks from Monday, 23 November 2015.

We will keep an eye on how the new legislation and supporting documents progress leading up to their intended commencement in late 2016.

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