Open letter to the Queensland Government
The Queensland Government is continuing to legislate changes to the State’s planning and development system. It has just concluded a consultation process for a draft Planning and Development Bill and a draft Planning and Environment Court Bill.
Further information about the Government’s plans to change legislation for planning and development approvals is available here.
Redlands2030 has made a brief submission to the Queensland Government regarding its proposed changes to the State’s planning and development process. A copy of our letter is published below.
If you believe that communities should keep strong rights to appeal inappropriate developments then it is important that you say this to your State MP. Their contact details are provided at the bottom of this post.
Planning and Property Group
Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning
By email to: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Draft Planning and Development Bill 2014 (P&D Bill) and Planning and Environment Court Bill 2014 (P&E Court Bill)
Thank you for the opportunity to make a submission on the two Bills.
Redlands2030 is a community network based in Redland City operating various media promoting awareness of and involvement in local government issues.
Redlands2030 believes that the community’s values, as set out in our Redlands 2030 Community Plan , should guide major planning and development decisions within our Redlands. These values include:
- Widespread community involvement in determining the future of the Redlands
- Sustainable economic development
- Respect for our natural environment
We are particularly concerned about the aspects of the proposed legislation which would lead to reduced public notification and appeal.
We are also concerned about more powers being delegated to local government given the ease with which transparency and good governance can be subverted at this level as a consequence of political donations by vested interests such as property developers.
The changes in this proposed legislation to reduce the community’s rights in development matters appear to be part of a general plan to disempower communities. We note the Economic Development Act 2012 introduced by the current Government has resulted in flawed planning and totally inadequate community consultation for priority development areas at Toondah Harbour and Weinam Creek.
We support a system which facilitates good development that enhances communities and the environment, in other words development which is ecologically sustainable.
Community participation in planning and development assessment is also critical for a truly transparent and accountable system.
We ask that the following changes be made to the proposed Act:
- The current purpose of the planning legislation in Queensland – ecologically sustainable development (ESD) – should remain the object of the new P&D Bill. ESD principles provide clear guidance for decision makers, which is lacking in the new purpose of ‘prosperity’.
- The draft P & D Bill needs amending to improve community involvement in decision making, not reduce it. For example:
• The Bill should require public notification for all merit/impact assessment, or at least for all departures from the planning scheme with no exemptions from notification.
• Public consultation periods for regional plans, and local planning schemes should be increased from 20 to 40 business days to ensure that local communities have time to adequately consider complex and detailed information.
• Laws on public consultation on development should be subject to public and Parliamentary scrutiny, not hidden away in rules and regulations.
- The legislation must clearly require non-minor changes to development applications to trigger re-notification if the change is likely to attract submissions. Developers should not be able to make major changes to development after public notification, without having to go through a fresh consultation process.
- The Government’s statements that there will be no reduction in public access to information are supported but this should be given strength in the legislation, not hidden in rules that can be changed without any Parliamentary or public scrutiny.
- The Development Assessment Rules – which will provide requirements for public notification of development, how public submissions are considered, and whether new information from the proponent will trigger re-notification- should be secured in legislation so that changes to them would have a transparent legislative reform process with public and Parliamentary scrutiny.
- Retain the existing State Planning Regulatory Provisions, particularly the SEQ Koala Conservation SPRP and the SEQ Regional Plan SPRP, which attempts to limit urban sprawl. The Government’s plan to retain these protections needs to be available for scrutiny before these statutory protections are removed.
- For 20 + years, the “no costs” jurisdiction served an important public interest of community involvement in planning decisions which affect everyone as it allowed ordinary Queenslanders to access the Court. The punitive and discretionary costs rules inserted in 2012, which effectively act as a barrier to justice for Queenslanders, should be removed from the P&D Bill.
- The P&E Court Bill 2014 must be amended to ensure that eligible submitters can elect to join as a party, i.e. as a co-respondent alongside Council’s decision to refuse a development application.
Co-founder and spokesperson
26 September 2014
|Dr Mark Robinson
Member for Cleveland
Member for Redlands
Member for Capalaba