Why is the SEQ Regional Plan being gutted?

A Regional Plan review should examine why this Southern Redlands farmland wasn’t protected from housing development

Who is pushing for changes to the south east Queensland regional plan?

The current plan, adopted in 2009, attempts to control urban sprawl and ensure a balanced approach to development in the State’s congested south east corner.

Comparing the existing SEQ Regional Plan with the newer model, Shaping SEQ, it is clear that Jackie Trad (Minister for Planning) has swept aside much of the existing Plan’s regulatory mechanisms.

The draft new Plan does away with years of refinement and thousands of hours of community involvement without any justification from the Labor State Government.

A toothless regional plan will benefit property developers and please pro-development local councils.

Where is the review of the current Regional Plan?

Ms Trad maintains her revised draft plan came about “as part of the government’s ongoing commitment to planning in SEQ, the department has undertaken a review of the current SEQ Regional Plan 2009–2031” 

It seems the Government’s “review” is the only justification for removing implementation arrangements, reformatting the Plan and deleting key issues.  In this way the new Plan hides the omission of whole chapters (or Desired Regional Outcomes (DROs)) of the previous Plan and principles of ecological sustainable development.

Shaping SEQ erases long standing planning problems (like the supply of regional open space) and it evades the commitments of Government to the policies and programs of the existing Plan.

Crucially the draft Plan does not acknowledge Government (both LNP and ALP) failure to enforce compliance with the existing Regional Plan.

It’s understood that the SEQ Regional Plan was about to be gutted in a review process instigated by Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney when the LNP was in Government.

Labor’s Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, has finished off the job and put an end to genuine regional planning for south east Queensland.

Where is the “line of sight” to the draft Shaping SEQ?

It seems strange any review of the existing Plan would mandate a new format.  Especially as the new format erodes so much of the communities understanding of regional planning in SEQ.

The gutting of the Desired Regional Outcomes (DROs) of the existing Plan is no small “variation”.

On top of that comes the lack of State of the Region Reporting which leaves the community guessing at the evidence used to review the plan.

There is no sign of the promised public monitoring, evaluation and reporting framework aligned to DROs and sustainability indicators … said to be required before the review of the 2009 Plan.

It gets worse!

The Government failed to report the status of the 144 programs embedded into the 2009 Regional Plan.

These were the Government’s own commitments to implementation of the Plan.  Regional planning needs to build on what has gone before.  An in-built process of quality improvement is surely the foundation of what is needed.  Where is the evaluation of the existing plan and the Government’s own programs?

The new format must have some attraction over the format of the old. But it is not clear, and at meet the planner sessions last year no explanation was forthcoming.  What is clear is that the carefully worded Desired Regional Outcomes (DROs) have given way to hackneyed cliches such as: Grow, Prosper, Connect, Sustain and Live.

Reasons for the changes …. and the benefits are not explained.

In planning terms a requisite for a new Plan is an evaluation of the existing Plan. Better still is a process that allows all stakeholders to contribute their own insights of successes and deficiencies about an old plan. This is to ensure successes and failings of an existing plan are used to ensure changes were in fact improvements.  The releases of the draft ShapingSEQ follows, almost unashamedly,  the already discredited model of top down edict driven planning.

Why start all over again?

The displayed structure of the 2016 draft Plan invites the community to start all over again!  One assumption: being is so the Government can avoid embarrassing questions about implementation, investment, commitment, and delivery of the touted outcomes and outputs from 2009.

The new format wipes away years of experience and the community understanding gleaned from forums, workshops, readings and submissions from previous editions. The result is untold waste of community effort.

Is there any reason why the community should invest time and effort into a new regional plan?

Where is the Queensland Plan?

In 2014 the LNP Government launched the Queensland Plan.  It was published in 2015 and and claimed contributions from 80 000 people. The Queensland Plan is supported by an Act and the Queensland Plan Ambassadors Council.

The ALP Government has only recently appointed Ambassadors for the Queensland Plan.  Yet, links and even the words “Queensland Plan” are not found in the draft Shaping SEQ plan.

Among the provisions of the Queensland Plan is an intent to double the population outside South East Queensalnd.  This target should be integrated with the draft ShapingSEQ intend for a region of 5.4 million.

This is but one example, but more seriously, how does the Queensland Plan integrate with Shaping SEQ?

Note: At meet the planner forums, the responses to questions about the Queensland Plan have been nonplussed.  A core principle of planning is surely “joined up planning” so that the planning effort at different scales and for different jurisdictions come together.

How is it that the Queensland Plan seems to have had no connection or influence on the draft Shaping SEQ?

Collaboration and implementation

The existing Regional Plan puts a great deal of emphasis on the implementation and monitoring arrangements needed to support the Plan. It acknowledges that advisory committees currently exist for some of these priorities, including the Regional Landscape and Open Space Advisory Committee, the Chief Executive Officers Committee for Natural Resource Management in SEQ and the Sustainability and Environmental Reporting Interdepartmental Committee. All were put into abeyance in 2012 (by the LNP government), but never re-established by the ALP Government.

The existing plan SEQ Plan acknowledges where coordination and advice mechanisms do not currently exist, and calls for new and additional mechanisms to be established.  Yet by eliminating established processes it proposes no alternative mechanisms to the existing plan.

Is this another case of “trust me …I’m from the Government”?

The new draft Plan destroys (or at least hides) the sense of continuity or “line of sight” from the first (statutory) SEQ Regional Plan in 2005 through the second version (2009) to the new draft Plan (2016).

Planning, implementation and evaluation

While the Government admits it has undertaken a review of the existing SEQ Plan there is no evidence of the evaluation being publicly available.  Yet the review is attributed as being the reason for major changes to the Plan.

Whether the cited review examined the plan and the implementation is not clear, but what is clear is that the pretence of an evaluation lacks community perspectives and is a reversion to paternalistic planning.  At best it looks like a Plan evaluation by editor of the new Plan; surely a self serving model at best.  Historically, it is the implementation of agreed plans that is the weakest element of Queensland planning.

A State of Region Report was done in advance of the Plan review in 2009.

Further the 2009 SEQ Regional Plan sets out the desired regional outcomes, and explains the principles necessary to achieve those outcomes, the policies to be applied to guide planning and decisions and the programs to be delivered over the life of the plan.  In all there are 144 programs that (according to the Plan) state agencies were required to implement over the life of the Plan.  It is impossible to guess at the success or not of the existing plan without a report on the implementation of the Programs.  Where is the report on the status of the 144 programs?

Despite the unambiguous commitment a new State of Region Report has not been produced for this planning exercise.  The lack of a follow up report makes it impossible for the community to make informed decisions about the effectiveness of the existing plan and any need for change.

 What is missing?

The first SEQ Regional Plan (2005) was clearly refined and tweaked to produce the 2009 SEQ Regional Plan. The process was seen by key community representatives as “reasonably” transparent.  The process clearly retained much of the earlier Plan that had was award winning and widely acclaimed.

The current draft of Shaping SEQ has removed:

  • the twelve Desired Regional Outcomes,
  • formats so as to remove continuity or “line of sight” from the previous Plans,
  • institutional arrangements,
  • performance measures through a State of Region Report
  • many touted programs,
  • reference the the Queensland Governments Framework for ecologically sustainable development

Updating the regional plan is an essential step in keeping the Plan relevant, but the draft Shaping SEQ Plan looks like a deliberate winding back of the regional plan.  Is it the plan we can afford rather then the plan we need?  Is it the plan the Government wants rather than the plan the community wants?

The draft Shaping SEQ mirrors a top down and edict form of planning that is the anathema of community engagement.

Why have significant sections and undertakings of the existing Plan been left on the proverbial “cutting room floor”?

Over the next week or so Redlands2030 asks interested parties to nominate any of  the arbitrary omissions they have found in the draft Shaping SEQ Plan.  Please provide references to the existing SEQ Regional Plan 2009 so all community colleagues can confirm the findings and we (the community) all can put some pressure on the Government to “please explain”.

Your comments will form the basis of a future post. Omissions (without explanation) noted to date include:

  • Queensland framework for ecologically sustainable decision-making
  • SEQ State of the Region report
  • South East Queensland Climate Change Management Plan
  • SEQ Ecosystem Services Framework
  • DRO 7 “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are actively involved in community planning and decision-making processes, and Aboriginal traditional owners are engaged in business about their country”.
  • DRO 5 “Rural communities are strong and viable with sustainable economies contributing to the health, wealth, character and liveability of the region.”
  • Reference to the Queensland Plan

In regard to the above, no explanation or reasoning is made … the draft Shaping SEQ looks like and reads like an arbitrary re-write of the existing SEQ Plan without regard to the extensive community and NGO consultation (ie investment) used to “build” the SEQ Regional Plan of 2009.  As an aside there are real concerns that the Government consulted heavily with the development industry in writing of the draft Shaping SEQ.  If true it has ignored so many other community stakeholders.  The risk is a decline in the community and NGO support for a new regional plan.


Redlands2030 – 8 February 2017


Please note: Offensive or off-topic comments will be deleted. If offended by any published comment please email thereporter@redlands2030.net

4 thoughts on “Why is the SEQ Regional Plan being gutted?

  1. The current Planning Policies of UDIA ,PIA ,COM and PCA may not be all available . However the intention for UDIA development self assessment appears the major reason for the gutting of the SEQPlan. It is the last barrier to fulfilment of greed. Expect urban footprint jumpouts ,CODE and CODE clearing, even avoidance of offsets, and a few PFGAs triggered . The proposed SIA for SEQ under the EPBC Act will do away with EPBC referrals and soon allow SARA to be One Stop Shop for Development across 3 levels of Govt. The inability to deal with any of the 9 or so anti environment Planning Processes and 5 gutted Environmental Laws after June sends the legislative and environmental outcomes and consultation back to the 1980s.
    The strategy of contact with all politicians and developers requires repetition and adaptation ,social media ,public meeting ambushes and different dealing with the peculiar more powerful minders. Send different submissions early and often .

  2. why is that the planners like to plan “top down”…no respect for community participation, no respect for the social capital invested in previous plans and as to public consultation it was a sham.

    Sending well intended graduate planners out to meet the planner sessions was an insult. After an hour and half there were no notes available, just an invite to do it all again in a submission.

    If Minister Trad thinks this has been in any way acceptable …she is being poorly advised OR she is delusional.

    Worst draft plan of the three, probably leading to the worse Regional Plan EVER.

    Why bother making a submission….it is on a serious slide to oblivion.

  3. The critique and list of what is missing from the draft plan and related documents could run to 450 pages. The things missing from Measures that Matter exceeds what DILGP have tabled(9) . The Matter of Vegetation as surrogate for Biodiversity , Climate Change, Refugia and Ecosystem Services lists DSITIA and SEQ Catchments as Agencies with statistics for Greenspace Loss and Vegetation loss. NOT SO. The Vegetation loss has to be sorted out by DNR( Regrowth ) and Qld Herbarium (Remnant and EREs) and EPA (Essential Habitat, Back on Track and HES MRES MSES)
    ) . This joins the sorry list of parameters Matters to be Developed (MTBD)that you cannot comment on , but should .
    The UDIA and PCA planets come into alignment in June 2017 when
    SEQRegional Plan
    The Planning Act SEE QCC/EDO Report Card
    The SPP (No k0alas not like 1997 etc.)
    The Regulations (No QPP or Priority Species Lists)
    The race for Missing Middle(1-7 Storeys No manual,no instruments no objection or appeal?)
    The Race for Planning Scheme Amendments
    SARA almost a One stop shop and EPBC Act Strategic Impact Assessment s for SEQ
    C O M City Deals(UK)
    are in one line.
    So the “Unfinished Business ” UDIA 1997 which went to COAG has never stopped.(IPA 1997 and Sustainable Planning Act 2009 stripped )
    Expect more developers , more land gluts,more fast tracking , but less Greenspace and less contributions from developers as they grasp for Self Assessment , while the ratepayers subsidise their Infrastructure Costs in many ways.
    Please do not leave the State as the NSW Environment is going down a bigger plughole. Keep your sense of humour but maintain your rage.

  4. What a very well written and researched article by the Redlands 2030 group on an important subject that effects the lives of us all and more so the futures of our children.
    Keep up the great work in making available vital information the wider media either largely ignore or report with very little detail to the general public.

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