Communities across south-east Queensland are up in arms about development approvals which don’t seem consistent with planning scheme guidelines.
Redland City examples include plans for an eight story building in a near CBD area zoned for five storeys, and several instances where medium density developments are proposed in areas zoned for detached dwellings.
These inconsistencies between community expectations and allowable developments are attributed to Queensland’s performance based planning system adopted in 2009 when the Sustainable Planning Act was passed.
The Palaszczuk Government is now consulting about a major revamp of the State’s planning laws. Draft bills produced by the Department of Planning Local Government will, among other things, govern how local councils develop planning schemes and deal with development applications.
Laws about the dispute resolution process will also be changed including a major win for community groups who will no longer face the threat of having costs awarded against them. The LNP changed the rules in 2012 to give courts the ability to award costs against community groups.
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.
For the Redlands community, it is unfortunate that the new Planning Bills and the Draft City Plan 2015 are out for public consultation at the same time. It seems that the planning scheme devils will be in the details and changes to planning laws will create further uncertainty.
EDO Qld is holding a forum on the new planning framework on 29 September. Here are event details.
Redlands2030 is arranging a “Meet the Planner” session in Redland City so that local residents have the opportunity to talk with State Government planners about the planning system and the draft bills. This event is being scheduled for the evening of Wednesday 14 October 2015. The commencement time and venue will be advised via an event notice on the Redlands2030 website.
Both the LNP and Labor have worked on new planning laws
When releasing the draft bills for consultation on 10 September, Deputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning Jackie Trad said the new legislation would create a system that was open, transparent, fair and easy to understand.
Queensland’s planning laws were reviewed and redrafted by the LNP while it was in government. Their proposed changes reached the stage of being reviewed by a parliamentary committee when the election was called in January 2015.
Since taking office, the Labor Government has reworked the proposed new laws. After releasing a discussion paper in May, Better Planning for Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said “I want residents to have a strong voice in the planning and development decisions that affect the neighbourhoods and communities where they work, live and play.”
Initial reaction to the draft planning bills
The Queensland Conservation Council said that the new draft bills include a number of improvements on the LNP’s draft planning bills, but still do not provide sufficient transparency and certainty for residents or anyone concerned about the protection of Queensland’s unique natural environment
QCC Coordinator Nichola Hungerford said “We will be having a close look at these latest draft planning laws and regulations to see if they have got the balance right and if the current government has listened to the concerns raised by community and environment organisations regarding the need for greater accountability and transparency.
“Despite more than a decade of so-called special planning protections we have seen a dramatic collapse in populations of Koala in south-east Queensland, and by all other recognised measures Queensland’s biodiversity has been steadily going backwards.
“‘Simplifying’ the planning and development system to suit developers is just not worth it, if the price we pay for cutting so-called red tape is the loss of the special places and special wildlife Queenslanders hold dear,” said Ms. Hungerford.
“Specifically, stricter limits are needed on the extent of development subject only to “code” level assessment which shuts the community out of objection and appeal processes. Local governments are increasingly using Code Assessment as a “back door” to the approval of inappropriate development, even when proposals do not comply with approved planning schemes.
The Property Council has welcomed the release of the Palaszczuk Government’s draft planning legislation, which incorporates many of the Property Council’s recommendations to streamline the planning system, reduce the cost of housing and provide certainty for the community and development industry alike.
“The Planning Bill 2015 has retained many of the former Government’s commonsense reform initiatives that were proposed in earlier drafts of new planning legislation and in the Private Members’ Bills introduced into Parliament in June,” Mr Mountford says.
“In addition, the draft bills introduce many of the positive initiatives foreshadowed in the Government’s Better Planning for Queensland Directions Paper released in May, including the introduction of a statutory guideline to promote better engagement with the community early in the plan-making process.
Urban Development Institute of Australia Queensland president Brett Gillan, said the State Government’s draft bills, on balance, represented an improvement on the existing legislation, according to the Sunshine Coast Daily
“We feel there is still opportunity for further efficiencies – removing red tape in the development assessment process – in the planning system that facilitates development that delivers on the vision for local planning schemes,” Mr Gillan said.
Have your say
Redlands2030 is reviewing the draft new planning bills and will provide further comments on issues which may be of concern to the community, well before the consultation period closes on 23 October.