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In Queensland, statewide legislation establishes the framework and overarching policy for land use planning. Commencing in mid-2017, the new Planning Act 2016 (Planning Act) will establish a new planning system for the state and replace the Sustainable Planning Act 2009.

The new legislation will provide the foundation for Australia's best planning system and put Queensland at the forefront of contemporary planning practice and prepare the way for a renewed focus on quality planning and development outcomes. Learn more about the benefits of the new system.

Broadly speaking, the new planning system comprises three main elements: plan making, development assessment and dispute resolution.

Plan making

The Act provides for the making of documents which guide all strategic planning and development throughout the state. The primary document is the local planning scheme that captures the aspirations of the community and the state's interests.

State government

  • Mandates the roles and responsibilities in plan making
  • Sets out the process for making plans
  • Articulates mandatory components in the scheme
  • Ensures effective community engagement
  • The Planning Minister approves the planning scheme

Local Government

  • Prepares and owns local planning schemes
  • Applies the state's categories of assessment
  • Sets what is code assessable or impact assessable
  • Details matters such as codes, building heights, site

Development Assessment

The Act mandates the framework and process for development assessment and also the basics required for an application. The local government's planning scheme sets out what development can occur in an area and applications are made against the scheme.

State government

  • The state specifies that it has a particular interest through the regulation
  • The state assesses state aspects of the development through the State Assessment and Referral Agency
  • Must publish all reasons for development

Local Government

  • The local government assesses applications and issues a decision on each application
  • Can make infrastructure agreements with applicants to ensure necessary infrastructure is funded
  • Must publish all reasons for development

Dispute resolution supports the whole system

Queensland has a strong and well regarded dispute resolution framework that supports the entire system, which include the Planning and Environment Court and the Development Tribunal. Local government, applicants and community members can access dispute resolution avenues as specified under the legislation. Each party bears their own costs, except in limited circumstances to do with frivolous, vexatious or improper action.

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Read more about the new planning system (PDF icon 67 KB).


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The new planning system will commence in mid-2017. Visit the department's website to learn about the current system.