The Queensland Parliament finally passed legislation to replace the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 with the Planning Act 2016.
The new Act addresses a multitude of matters which will impact on communities. Redlands2030 will be producing a series of short articles to help residents and businesses in our city understand the new legislation and its potential impacts.
The new Act aims to get people more involved in the planning phase instead of objecting when specific developments are proposed.
An ongoing problem will be that it’s human nature for people (and communities) to respond to development applications NOT planning schemes.
The planning scheme phase is complex, abstract and its implications can be hard to visualize but a specific application is “in your face” and people will react if they think its inappropriate for their neighborhood.
The language and jargon of planning is an art form in its own right and the new act does nothing to make planning laws more easily understood by ordinary homeowners who only encounter planning issues once every few years.
If we are to believe the rhetoric about the new planning laws we will all be very happy. Here are a few examples of what the community has been told:
- The new planning laws provide the basis for securing the liveability, sustainability and prosperity of Queensland communities, both now and into the future.
- The intent of the new planning laws is to deliver a transparent and efficient system that contributes to investment and jobs, and embraces genuine community engagement.
- The new legislation will provide the foundation for Australia’s best planning system and put Queensland at the forefront of contemporary planning practice and prepare the way for a renewed focus on quality planning and development outcomes.
Claimed improvements for the community include:
- More emphasis on effective community engagement, with principles included in statutory instrument and practical tools to be provided by the state. This is a claim that many communities and community groups will want to see realised not just claimed.
- Greater transparency and accountability in the system with new requirements on councils and the state government to publish reasons for development decisions. This a Queensland first and should help communities understand decisions and prepare better submissions.
- Greater say for the community with local governments now required to consult for longer on new planning schemes and mandatory consultation on state planning instruments
- Greater certainty through a ‘bounded’ code assessment, which will mean development is assessed more strictly against the criteria set out in the code
- More rights for community with the ability to appeal decisions without adverse cost orders — a reform that will help the “level the playing field” between vested and community interests.
- Delivers critical community infrastructure by providing councils with more ability to increase infrastructure charges levied on new development
- Ability to contribute to state planning instruments, through new requirement to consult on proposed changes
Basic functions of the new Act
Broadly speaking, the new planning system comprises three main elements: plan making, development assessment and dispute resolution.
- Plan making guides all strategic planning and development throughout the state. The primary document is the local planning scheme that captures the aspirations of the community and the state’s interests.
- Development assessment provides the framework and process for development assessment and also the basics required for an application. The local government’s planning scheme sets out what development can occur in an area and applications are made against the scheme.
- Dispute resolution provides the framework that supports the entire system, which include the Planning and Environment Court and the Development Tribunal. Local government, applicants and community members can access dispute resolution avenues as specified under the legislation. Each party bears their own costs, except in limited circumstances to do with frivolous, vexatious or improper action.
Anyone seeking more detail should go to the Department’s own Better Planning web site at http://betterplanning.qld.gov.au/planning-reform.html.
If you would like to know more about any particular aspect of the new planning laws please post a comment below and we will try to address it in future articles.
Redlands2030 – 18 September 2016