Queensland’s New Planning Bills Released for Comment

Publication September 2015


The Queensland Government has released its new draft planning legislation for public comment.

Public submissions will be accepted until Friday, 23 October 2015.

The new legislation comprises a suite of three bills:

  • Planning Bill 2015;
  • Planning and Environment Court Bill 2015; and
  • Planning (Consequential) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 (Draft Bills).

Copies of the new bills and their supporting information can be found at http://www.dilgp.qld.gov.au/planning-reform.

The bills focus on changes to Queensland’s planning regime that were foreshadowed in the Better Planning for Queensland Directions Paper – Next Steps for Planning Reform, which was released in May 2015.

Norton Rose Fulbright has a market leading planning practice and we would be happy to discuss with you the implications of the proposed changes for your business and assist you with making a submission.

Some key changes

While the Draft Bills do not propose to alter the fundamental way Queensland’s planning system currently operates, some noteworthy changes are proposed. These changes include:

  • Reducing the number of state planning instruments. It is proposed that the number of state planning instruments be reduced from four to two. The State Planning Regulatory Provisions and the Queensland Planning Provisions are to be rolled into the Planning Regulation 2016, leaving the State Planning Policy and Regional Plans as the only ‘state planning instruments’ under the Planning Bill 2015.
  • Changes to the types of development assessment and the categories of development assessment. Under the draft Planning Bill 2015 development is to be categorised as accepted, assessable and prohibited. Assessable development is to be further classified as standard/code assessable or merit/impact assessable. ‘Exemption certificates’ are also proposed to be introduced.
  • The introduction of additional supporting legislation and instruments. It is proposed that the Draft Bills will be supported by the Development Assessment Rules, the Planning Regulation 2016, the Minister’s Rules and Guidelines for Making or Amending Local Planning Instruments, the Infrastructure Designation: Statutory Guideline for Local Government. All of these documents will serve a fairly self-evident purpose with the Development Assessment Rules essentially being the current Chapter 6 (Integrated Development Assessment System) of the Sustainable Planning Act 2009.
  • Removal of the term ‘permissible change’. Under the Draft Bills the term ‘minor change’ now applies to both changes to development applications and development approvals. However the term takes on a slightly different meaning depending on the circumstances. The Draft Bills also provide scope for approvals to be changed if the change is not minor.
  • Establishment of the Development Tribunal. The Building and Development Dispute Resolution Committee is to be replaced by the Development Tribunal. The Draft Bills establish the jurisdiction of the Development Tribunal and Planning and Environment Court and set out how appeals are commenced in each. The concept of a ‘non-appealable’ decision is also introduced.
  • Restricting the discretionary factors relevant to the awarding of costs in the Planning and Environment Court. The current discretionary cost provisions of the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 are to be restricted and it is proposed that the concept of each party bearing their own costs in Planning and Environment Court litigation be reintroduced.

The specific areas in which the Government is seeking feedback are:

  • the advancing of the Draft Bills’ purpose;
  • local government compensation arrangements in relation to natural hazards;
  • the terms to be used when classifying development;
  • the decision rules related to standard/code assessment; and
  • transitional provisions.

The Draft Bills are in a very early form and we will be watching with great interest how this new legislation evolves between now and when it is due to commence in late 2016.

If you would like to know more about the Draft Bills, their potential implications for your business or require assistance with preparing a submission please contact Gerard Timbs on (07) 3414 2876 or gerard.timbs@nortonrosefulbright.com.

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