New Queensland planning reforms spruiked as economic stimulus

Image: Jeff Seeney.

The Queensland government has set about overhauling the state’s planning laws through a scheme it claims will boost the number of construction jobs and offer sought after affordable housing.

After promising to rewrite and improve the state’s planning laws at the 2012 election, the Liberal National government has now slated late 2014 as the time it expects to bring the Planning for Queensland’s Development Bill before Parliament, a move that follows the introduction of the Regional Planning Interests Bill in November 2013.

Speaking about the new Bill at the Queensland Planning Forum on 13th March, 2014, Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Jeff Seeney said it will replace the “cumbersome” Sustainable Planning Act 2009.

“Clearer, less complicated planning laws will help to kick-start the construction industry, boosting jobs and delivering more affordable housing for Queenslanders,” Mr Seeney said.

He said the government has already introduced significant reforms in the planning space, such as the new State Planning Policy and “one-stop-shop” State Assessment and Referral Agency.

“But I think the best is still to come,” he said.

Mr Seeney couldn’t resist a swipe at how the construction sector was performing under the former Labor government, saying that the building industry wasn’t living up to its full potential.

“We are now unlocking that,” Mr Seeney said.

The Newman government expects that local governments will benefit substantially from the planning reforms, and Mr Seeney said the new laws would provide “greater certainty for developers and greater confidence for councils”.

He said the changes provided the capability and discretion needed to make assessment applications.

Councils in Queensland have previously been cautiously optimistic about the state government’s local government planning reforms that allow councils more input into land use planning.

In November 2012 after the passage of the Economic Queensland Development Bill, the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) warned that councils would be “vigilant” in ensuring that the new laws are not used to forcibly shift development costs onto communities.

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