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Parliament passes Planning Bills – new Act on the way

A new, streamlined Planning Act for Queensland is expected to commence in mid-2017, following Parliament passing the Planning Bills on Wednesday night.

The new Planning Act reflects over three years of detailed work by the Department of Local Government and Planning and UDIA (Qld) congratulates the Department on finalising the new legislation and engaging with us and our industry throughout the process.

To find out more and equip yourself with the new Planning Act’s know-how, register for our New State of Planning event on 14 June.

The road to the new PA

During opening speeches at the inaugural Queensland Government Planning Forum Day on 27 March 2013, UDIA (Qld) was the lone industry voice arguing for a complete rewrite of the Sustainable Planning Act.

Over the subsequent three years we have been working at the forefront with the Queensland Government to deliver an efficient, predictable and transparent planning system – a vital ingredient to the Queensland development industry’s successful operation. 

We also prepared a Submission on the Planning Bills, draft regulations and statutory instruments, which formed the basis of our advocacy efforts on your behalf.

How does the new PA improve over the former SPA?

The new legislation includes substantial improvements including:

  • A simpler and refined development assessment framework – replacing the existing decision rules, provisions relating to acknowledgement, lapsing and pausing of development applications
  • A simpler hierarchy of state planning instruments, the process for plan making and community infrastructure designations
  • Providing exemption certificates
  • Increasing timeframes for public consultation for some plan making.

The Planning Act retains major planning concepts and the State Assessment and Referral Agency, and Single Planning Policy. Significant improvement was made to code assessment rules based on our feedback – now it is clear code assessment is not against the Planning Scheme’s strategic plan.  We also welcome changes to negotiated decision arrangements.

But, we still have some concerns…

Despite significant improvements, the legislation was passed with no change to our concerns around:

  • Removing compensation provisions for plan changes for environmental risks including natural hazards
  • Planning and Environment Court costs rules.

Where to now for planning reform?

We will continue our advocacy efforts to ensure the new legislation is accompanied by cultural change at a local government level and the reform delivers increased efficiency, predictability and transparency to our industry.

The new legislation is expected to commence in mid-2017, allowing more than 12 months for transition. Work on subsidiary instruments (Regulations, Assessment Rules, Plan Making Guidelines and Infrastructure designation guidelines) is ongoing.