The Queensland Government is seeking community feedback about its proposed new planning laws – the planning laws which underpin what our Council’s do.
Submissions are due by 6pm Friday 23 October. Instructions on how to submit are provided below at end.
Redlands2030 has prepared a short submission which people may wish to use as a template for their own submission to the Government.
Submission – Draft Queensland Planning Bills
More time for community engagement
It appears that the new Labor Government is in a hurry to enact the LNP’s draft planning bills, at the behest of the development industry. Why?
The current planning laws are generally functional and reasonably well understood. There is no case for rushing change.
There is a case for change but more time and effort is required to assess community opinion on the ways in which planning laws can better meet community expectations. Many people readily become outraged by specific development proposals which are ‘in their face’. Getting effective community engagement about the more abstract and long term issues involved in planning law is more difficult.
To date, the government appears to have got only to first base which is to get the conversation started. We, the community, need some well written discussion papers about key issues which set out choices for consideration and discussion by a wide range of stakeholders, not just the vested interests and professional associations.
Purpose of the Act
The purpose of the Act should be ‘ecologically sustainable development’ using a definition which is consistent with the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development, endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments in 1992.
It says that Ecologically Sustainable Development is:
using, conserving and enhancing the community’s resources so that ecological processes, on which life depends, are maintained, and the total quality of life, now and in the future, can be increased.
The Queensland Government has committed to protecting the State’s natural and cultural heritage for current and future generations, and managing natural resources development in an ecologically sustainable way.
The draft planning bill’s notion that ecologically sustainable development should be achieved by balancing environmental and economic objectives is inherently exploitive and unsustainable. Simply, the draft Bill enshrines a process of rebalancing those outcomes which will diminish environmental assets over time because there will always be half of a half of a half …of a half. Any high school student can work that out!
Performance based planning
The move to performance based planning (and development assessment) has failed the community. It is delivering outcomes which the community finds difficult to understand and often contravenes the community’s expectations that development would be in line with rules clearly set out in a planning scheme.
Under performance based planning, developers are able to continually challenge the boundaries of ‘acceptable solutions’. This is supposed to encourage innovation but generally the result is denser, higher, poorer quality developments.
Inadequate consideration is given to the public interest with many approved developments resulting in loss of character, overcrowding and overload of community infrastructure and facilities.
The planning laws should be redrafted to allow Councils to prescribe specific requirements in a planning scheme such as:
- Maximum height of buildings (by number of storeys and/or metres)
- Maximum residential density (by specifying a minimum lot size)
- Minimum street frontage
Councils should be allowed by law to consider applications which fall outside any such requirements, at their discretion, but they should not be legally obliged to do so. This would remove the risk to Council’s of a refusal decision on such applications resulting in legal challenges by developers. This risk currently appears to be a significant influence on Council decision making.
When preparing a planning scheme, Councils should have the power to prohibit types of development. At present this power is reserved for the State Government and little used.
Planning scheme preparation
When Council’s commence the process of preparing a new planning scheme (or a major revision) they should be required by State law to:
- Commence the process by conducting an evaluation of the current (old) planning scheme and they should have to make the evaluation report publicly available for ongoing consultation.
- Seek community input into any draft planning scheme through transparent community engagement- a preliminary public consultation process with public advertising and transparent reporting on all submissions received.
The current planning laws have allowed the Redland City Council to prepare its Draft City Plan 2015 without following these processes.
There is a need for planning schemes and associated rules and procedures to be made more easily understood. A ‘Plain English” mandate is required so that documents can easily be understood by the ‘man in the street’, or more pertinently, the property owners who might be affected by a proposed development. The planning laws should work for the whole community, not just developers and professional planners.
Status of Community Plans
The Redlands community is very proud of its Redlands 2030 Community Plan. The State planning laws should clarify that:
- Councils are encouraged to have in place a long term Community Plan
- Planning schemes should have regard to matters set out in a Community Plan
A matter of particular concern to many people in the Redlands is loss of koala habitat. More effective rules are required for the protection of koala habitat. At present, developers and a developer friendly Council can seemingly wriggle around the rules whenever they get in the way of housing developments. Continually slicing and dicing the koala’s habitat means that their extinction in the ‘Koala Coast’ will just be a matter of time.
Because council’s have shown that they can not be trusted to do the right thing, we need stronger “State Interest” rules with some clearly spelt out and measurable koala habitat objectives.
Appeal costs against community groups
It is a good move to redress the awarding of costs against community groups. In the redrafting of legislation care should be taken to ensure that community groups are no worse off than they were before the 2012 changes passed by the last LNP Government.
Capped infrastructure charges
The impact of the State’s capped infrastructure charges on communities is not sufficiently transparent. The “subsidy” which communities provide through this mechanism to developers should be obvious when Council planning and assessment decisions are made.
The principle of deemed approval should be reversed. If certainty is a goal (and ecological sustainability) then the precautionary principle should apply. The default option should be the status quo and the onus should be on the applicant to demonstrate why a development should be approved.
How to make a submission
This post is a draft submission which anyone is welcome to copy and use as a basis for making their own submission.
You can make a quick submission as follows:
- By email to the Qld State Planning Reform Team i.e. email@example.com
- Add Subject Title: Submission – Draft Planning Bills
- Copy and paste the above Submission sections relevant to your concerns into your email.
- Or, simply add the above webpage URL ie. http://redlands2030.net/draft-planning-bills-submission-due-23-october-2015/
- Add at end of email
- “Please register my submission to the draft Planning Bill regards”
- your name and
- your address
You might also want to send a copy to Don Brown the State Member for Capalaba and ask him to support an extension of the consultation process for the new Planning Bill.
Don Brown’s email address is Capalaba@parliament.qld.gov.au
Remember, submissions are due by 6pm Friday 23 October.
Redlands2030 – 21 October 2015