Introducing Queensland’s new planning act

Local communities in the Brisbane area protesting against inappropriate development

Local communities in the Brisbane area protesting against inappropriate development

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.

Early engagement

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.

Planning rhetoric

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.

Community benefits

Claimed improvements for the community include:

Better mechanisms for community consultation are touted in the new Planning Act 2016

Better mechanisms for community consultation are touted in the new Planning Act 2016

  • 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

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


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

4 thoughts on “Introducing Queensland’s new planning act

  1. The fact that people respond more to development applications rather than planning schemes is because they are familiar with the needs of their local community. That is why it is essential to have Local Area Plans in local government planning schemes so that people can make informed responses. Unfortunately Redlands new Draft City Plan has no local area plans – unlike every other local government area in SE Qld.

  2. The Queensland Planning Act! Under truth in advertising …shouldn’t it be the Queensland Development Approval Act?

    So many aspects of planning are missing because the “system” tries to deal with complexity and community by using weasel words. In the end the planning schemes look to be written and structured for planners by planners. And community consultation or input is on the terms dictated by planners.

    The best that can be said of the Trad reforms is that the new Act isn’t the LNPs proposal…which is hardly a recommendation.

  3. The State Government planning claims stand rebuffed by ;the EDO/QCC scorecard (although there have been a few incremental changes), LNP shredding of say 10 pieces of Planning and Environmental Legislation not yet repealed , some evidence in the Planning Inquiry, and comparisons with Planning Legislation successfully peeled back by big industry in Qld as far back as the superior Integrated Planning Act 1997. The comparisons with earlier interstate planning legislation over time , reviewed by Upper Houses and mechanisms like ICAC and tribunals and some visionary case law appear to be necessary. The loss of Liveability, Sustainability and Biodiversity from the McPherson Maclaey Overlap becomes a matter of National Importance ., particularly in a period of climate change.
    Greater Glider

  4. The Planning Act 2016 sounds great, however for the Redlands it is too late, the damage is already done.
    High rise accomodation is well and truly on its way. The demographic has already changed.
    With the worst public transport system in Queensland in proportion to proposed development.
    Extended trading hours for so called Wine Bar – Night Club and Travern in Victoria Point to 3:00am doing nothing for actual crime figures, not the reported figures.
    This all goes to explain the sudden and hurried development of housing estates and high density accommodation in the last eighteen months.
    Toondah harbour is just the thin end of the wedge for further marinas hidden in the pipe line on the Morton coast in the near future. Sounds good till you have the masses camped in the park opposite your home because they have no backyard for recreation in their appartment block.
    Over time the demographic changes towards the unsavoury.
    I’m sure this has all been seen before in other communities??

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