Queensland’s Planning laws are changing – and not for the better

by Elizabeth Handley

New state planning legislation is being proposed. It has been judged by an international architect to be less democratic than Saudi Arabia’s. The legislation is specifically designed to weaken or remove town planning controls on development. Planning is a State and Council issue.

Under the legislation, developers can employ their own private assessors to deem what planning rules, if any, should apply and then approve the development. These private assessors require no formal qualifications and can own shares in the developer’s company.

If the development is so extreme that it can’t be approved by the developer’s private assessor, then the legislation gives public servants a much more free hand to approve developments that are totally in breach of their own town planning rules.

The rights of the community to appeal against new developments are being removed or reduced.

Does the new legislation give us better outcomes and help your community by providing clear and defined rules to guide development? The answer is clearly no. The Environmental Defenders Office has done an independent analysis and deemed that the new legislation is a big step backwards.

“There are serious accountability and transparency shortfalls in both the Government’s and the Opposition’s proposed new planning and development assessment laws, mainly due to too much flexibility surrounding decision-making that tends to favour developers’ interests over the community.”

EDO Qld, Scorecard: Queensland planning bills not up to scratch, available here: www.edoqld.org.au/ news/qld-planning-scorecard/

We were promised an easy to understand planning framework that improved planning outcomes. With this proposed legislation, many more large developments can be approved that are in breach of assessment benchmarks. There is too much discretion as to who can be an assessment manager and there is too much discretion that allows developments to be exempted from planning rules.

We need intelligent and appropriate development creating real progress for our city. Development in the right places with protection for the things that matter. The community does not want a developer free- for-all. The effects of a free-for-all would be destructive, permanent and severe.

The Act must strike the balance between making development and development assessment quick and effective and the whole community interest. It should clearly define terms such as Amenity and Development Impact so that these issues are considered. It needs rules that provide certainty and   quality. The proposed legislation is doing the opposite.

Brisbane Residents United a coalition of over 50 resident groups is taking action. Please look at this legislation and let the state and council levels of government know your views. Submissions on the regulations are open until February 5. The BRU website, at BrisbaneResidentsUnited.org has links and information for you.

We need to stand united, to send a clear messages to Government that planning matters – it needs to serve all of the people, our environment and our heritage for the long term.

Elizabeth Handley www.ParkIT.org.au
www. brisbaneresidentsunited.org