Redlands residents were urged to have their say about new planning laws at a meeting in Cleveland last night.
Megan Bayntun, Director at Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning, said that the Government had made considerable efforts to encourage community input into the new planning laws during the consultation period which ends on Friday 23 October.
At the Cleveland function organised by Redlands2030, Queensland’s ‘performance based planning’ system was questioned by many local residents. Ms Baynun said that many other community groups had also expressed concerns about the flexibility allowed under the current planning laws. She suggested that if people had concerns they should make sure that submissions are made by the closing date.
Make the rules more clear and firm
Major developers have waged a long campaign to make the planning laws more developer friendly. The jargon used is to ‘cut red tape’. What this means in reality is less scope for nearby property owners and community groups to be made aware of development proposals and have an opportunity to provide input to the decision making process.
By making many decisions ‘code assessible’ there is effectively no scope for people to object to developments which contravene community expectations. The development in Wellington Street Ormiston where 27 koala trees were clear felled is an example of code assessible decision making which many people believe should have been impact assessible.
While it may not be practical to make wholesale changes to ‘performance based planning’ it is possible to send the Government a simple message that planning scheme rules should be clearer. If the scheme says an area has a height limit of three storeys, then a local Council should be empowered to enforce it without being exposed to the risk and expense of legal appeals.
If a developer wants the height limit changed then this should be done by a minor amendment to the planning scheme, with extensive public consultation required.
Risk of legal costs to be changed
One aspect of the proposed laws which has been be welcomed by community groups is the Government’s proposal to not allow costs to be awarded against community groups who appeal against planning decisions. This would reverse a change implemented by the LNP when it was in power. The Birkdale Progress Association was one of the first victims of this anti-community measure when it joined a legal case about the proposed chicken manure fuelled power project at Mt Cotton.
If you think this change is a good idea, say so in a submission. There could be vested interests who will argue for the current arrangements which can make it financially risky or prohibitively expensive for community groups or individuals to take legal action.
So what else could be fixed up by changing the planning laws? Here are a few idea for discussion:
- Removing State Government caps on local council infrastructure charges
- Allowing local councils to ‘back zone’ – to reduce the amount of allowable development on a property without the community having to compensate the land owner, provided that this is done through a change to a planning scheme
- Abolishing the Economic Development Act 2012 which enables the planning and approval of priority development areas (such as Toondah Harbour and Weinam Creek) to avoid normal requirements for community input
Community groups want more time to consider new laws
A number of community groups have called on Deputy Premier Jackie Trad to extend the time for public consultation about the new planning laws.
Brisbane Residents United (BRU) spokesperson Elizabeth Handley said the proposed new planning laws would reduce certainty for the community with no guarantee that development will be required to comply with approved planning schemes and local plans.
Our members are extremely concerned with many aspects of the proposed planning laws and, like other community groups, we have not had enough time or information to properly respond to these proposed planning laws. The new framework stretches to over 1000 pages of complex planning law. If this government wants meaningful input from the community, we need more time.
Queensland Conservation Council (QCC) spokesperson Karen Robinson said most peak regional conservation groups had not been notified of Meet The Planner sessions held around the state and went on to say:
The Department’s consultation process has been token at best. While meetings were held in a number of major population centres there was minimal publicity and extremely short notice in most cases. The Department has focused consultation on aspects of the draft bill of interest to the Department, rather than seeking the community’s opinion. They seem to be ignoring the fact that many people have valuable first-hand experience with the planning laws from a community perspective.
Here is a link to a Community Alliance media release asking for more consultation time.
If you think that more time should be allowed for public consultation about our planning laws, send an email to your local MP:
Dr Mark Robinson (LNP)
Member for Cleveland
07 3286 2726
Matt McEachan (LNP)
Member for Redlands
07 3207 6910
Don Brown (ALP)
Member for Capalaba
07 3245 6590
Further information about the draft planning bills is available from the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Local Government’s Better Planning for Queensland webpage.
Submissions about the draft bills can be made to the Department until 6:00 pm on Friday 23 October 2015