In a move it says will cut red tape and simplify development approval processes, the Queensland state government has consolidated 14 state-based policies for urban planning and land use into a single document.
Announced by Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development Jeff Seeney last week at the Urban Development Institute Association lunch in Brisbane and released publicly on Monday, the State Planning Policy aims to provide a comprehensive view of the state’s interest in land use planning and development in a singular policy.
It arranges 16 separate state interests – matters in which the state government is involved to meet economic or environmental objectives – into five broad themes: liveable communities and housing, economic growth, infrastructure, hazards and safety, and environment and heritage, and outlines critical considerations relevant to these areas from a state point of view.
Describing its release as a ‘landmark moment’ in terms of reform regarding the state’s development process, Seeney says the policy would streamline regulation and deliver a better system.
“The end result will be better, more consistent planning by councils and quicker, clearer decisions for applications by developers and other stakeholders,” he said, adding that the plan would provide grater clarity for local government by consolidating the state interests and policies councils must consider when preparing or amending local planning schemes or addressing development applications. “It will make it easier for them to reflect and balance state interests up front in local planning schemes, ensuring the right development in the right location, without unnecessary delays.”
“Developers now also have a clear guide to assist them when preparing applications for certain types of development or in certain areas when the local planning scheme is yet to reflect the policy.”
While generally supportive of the new policy, building and construction industry lobby groups raised concerns about issues associated with the draft version of the policy released in June this year.
The Property Council of Australia noted in its submission, for example that the plan provided little guidance for local authorities about how to resolve conflicts among competing planning priorities as well as a lack of clarity as to whether an ‘overriding needs test’ which covers cases where it is in the public interest to depart from the policy applied only to individual development assessments or to making and amending planning instruments.
The new plan will be complemented by a single-source of mapping material which visually represents the state based interests in a transparent manner.