Australia: Planning & Environment Update: Did you know...

Last Updated: 28 November 2016
Article by Vanessa Thompson

Planning & Environment Update: Did you know...

Services: Property & Projects
Industry Focus: Property

Climate change is a focus of the new Draft South East Queensland Regional Plan?

An important piece of the planning puzzle for South East Queensland, the new Draft South East Queensland Regional Plan (Draft SEQRP) aims to ensure the impacts of climate change are managed as development continues in the region.

Setting out a 25 year planning framework and a 50 year vision, the Draft SEQRP acknowledges the impact climate change and extreme weather events will have, and makes disaster resilience and the protection of both man-made and natural assets a consistent theme throughout the document.

In particular, the Draft SEQRP:

  • requires disaster resilient planning which responds to the potential for more frequent and severe weather events, sea level rises and fluctuations in rainfall
  • promotes sustainable communities that minimise greenhouse gas emissions
  • recognises of the pressure of climate change on ecosystems and the need to protect those ecosystems

Unlike previous versions, the Draft SEQRP and its regulatory provisions do not take immediate effect. The current version remains in force until the new version is formally adopted.

Public consultation for the Draft SEQRP is open until 3 March 2017.

There are calls for legislative changes to prevent the demolition of character homes in Brisbane?

In the wake of the recent demolition of two character houses in Norman Park, Brisbane City Council has called on the Queensland Government to tighten 'loopholes' in private certification which it says leads to character buildings being demolished without proper assessment.

The Council has said that the demolition was approved by a private certifier but, despite the houses being subject to the Council's Traditional Building Character Overlay (Overlay), was not assessed or approved by the Council.

The 'loophole' relates to whether private certifiers have the power to issue building approvals to demolish buildings subject to the Overlay, or whether all applications to demolish character buildings subject to the Overlay need to be assessed by the Council.

A recent series of Planning & Environment Court decisions suggest that there is a distinction between applications involving construction and alterations to traditional buildings (which may only require assessment by a private certifier) and demolition (which may need to be assessed by the Council).

Where character buildings are illegally removed, the maximum penalty is currently $202,000, which is set to increase to $548,550 under the new Planning Act 2016 when it commences next year. However, it has been reported that only four fines have been issued in the last three years for illegally demolishing character homes in Brisbane, resulting in less than $40,000 in fines. This is in stark contrast to the possible financial benefits, including land value and development potential, associated with removal of character buildings.

The Queensland Government is considering legislative changes to address the Council's concerns.

The Federal Treasurer has cited planning regulation as a key reason for the lack of affordable housing?

Weighing into the affordable housing debate, this week the Federal Treasurer, the Hon Scott Morrison, identified planning restrictions impeding housing supply as a key factor driving up housing prices. He suggested that supply is being constrained from responding to genuine demand by factors including insufficient land release, complex planning and development regulation and public attitudes towards infill development.

He identified the easing of planning regulation for residential development as a focus for the upcoming Council on Federal Financial Relations in December, where both Commonwealth and State Government representatives will meet.

Housing affordability is also a focus of the Draft South East Queensland Regional Plan, which was released for public consultation this week, and seeks to strike a balance between a growing population and the supply of affordable or social housing.

This week the Planning and Environment Court granted an application to start use of a development pending the outcome of an appeal?

Harburg Nominees Pty Ltd v Brisbane City Council & Anor [2016] QPEC 52 – an application was granted allowing use of a development to start before the decision on an appeal against a condition of the development approval. The disputed condition required a road upgrade for a left turning facility. The applicant undertook to carry out the road upgrade if the appeal was unsuccessful.

The Co-Respondent, the Chief Executive administering the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (a concurrence agency for the development application) imposed the disputed condition and opposed the application. It submitted that the outcome of the appeal would be affected if the order was made, and that the requirements of the condition should be met prior to the use being able to commence.

In allowing the application, the Court observed that the outcome of the appeal would be that either, the relevant roadworks condition would remain, or it would be removed with a possible financial contribution instead. Either way, it was satisfied that the outcomes of the appeal would not be affected if use of the development commenced.

This article is intended to provide commentary and general information. It 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 article. Authors listed may not be admitted in all states and territories

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