The Queensland Government has proposed a suite of reforms to the planning framework in order to assist Queensland’s economic recovery from COVID-19. The proposed amendments are not legislative, but rather amendments to regulations and rules made under the Planning Act 2016 (Qld), meaning they can be efficiently implemented.

Anyone wishing to make submissions regarding the proposed amendments should write to the Minister by email at bestplanning@dsdmip.qld.gov.au by 7 August 2020.

Snapshot

  • Temporary public notification arrangements introduced during the COVID-19 emergency under the Development Assessment Rules (DA Rules) will be made permanent.
  • The Planning Regulation 2017 (Qld) (Planning Regulation) will be temporarily amended to simplify planning approvals for low-risk developments. To the extent that the proposed changes are not already covered in planning schemes, local governments will be able to opt in to these amendments to ‘road test’ them before permanently amending their planning schemes.
  • The Minister’s Guidelines and Rules (MGRs) will be amended to clarify and simplify the process for developing critical infrastructure.

Proposed amendments to DA Rules

Under the proposed amendments to the DA Rules, the following notification requirements will apply under proposed amended rule 17:

  • a hard copy local newspaper must be used to publish the notice if it is in circulation in the locality of the premises the subject of the development application (DA);
  • where there is only an online local newspaper in the locality, the notice must be published there; and
  • where there is no local newspaper in the locality, the notice must be:
    • published in a state- or nation-wide newspaper (hard copy or online);
    • placed on the assessment manager’s website; or
    • given to surrounding residents within an agreed area.

Additionally, notice must now be given to both owners and occupiers of adjoining premises, to ensure renters are also notified of proposed developments.

The rules relating to the assessment manager’s decision period in rule 22 are also proposed to be amended to be consistent with the new applicable event arrangements in the Planning Act 2016 (Qld). If the Minister extends timeframes on a development application in response to an applicable event, it will no longer impact the assessment manager’s decision period.

Proposed amendments to Planning Regulation

There are five proposed amendments to the Planning Regulation:

  1. Planning approvals will not be required for business tenancy changes where the new tenancy is:
    1. consistent with expected uses in the area;
    2. in an existing building and only requires minor work; or
    3. will have minimal or mitigatable impacts on neighbouring sensitive uses and residential uses.
  2. Code assessment will be the maximum level of assessment applied to any proposed development that is consistent with the intent of the zone.
  3. Businesses in certain zones will be permitted to make minor expansions without development approval where the land use impact is limited.
  4. Certain low-risk uses in residential, rural, township and rural zones will be made code assessable or accepted development to encourage businesses to diversify their operations.
  5. The definition of ‘temporary use’ will be clarified so that it is clearer which temporary events can be organised without planning approval.

These proposed amendments are expected to stay in place for 12 months. Local governments will be able to opt into these if they have not already implemented them in their own planning schemes. They may then permanently implement them if the changes are feasible in their locality.

Proposed amendments to MGRs

The proposed amendments to the MGRs will simplify and clarify the processes for:

  • Ministers and local governments to deliver critical infrastructure (such as schools and hospitals) through infrastructure designations; and
  • local governments to make interim amendments to their local government infrastructure plans (LGIP).

The proposed amendments intend to increase clarity around the process for implementing infrastructure projects, and allow local governments to flexibly update their LGIPs in line with planning scheme amendments.

Next steps

We encourage developers and local governments to contact us if they have any questions about the proposed amendments, would like assistance with drafting a submission or would like advice about how the proposed amendments may affect their operations.

The authors would like to thank Edward Watson for his contributions to this article. 

Madeline Simpson

Madeline Simpson
Special Counsel, Brisbane
+61 7 3258 6662

Mark Cowan

Mark Cowan
Senior Associate, Brisbane
+61 7 3258 6323

Michael Bidwell

Michael Bidwell
Solicitor, Brisbane
+61 7 3258 6394