Autumn Newsletter 2017

Plans, plans and plans – the many changes to the planning and building environment in Queensland

State planning legislation

Last year the Queensland State government introduced the new Planning Act 2016 which will come in force on 3 July this year. As part of these changes, subordinate statutory documents are also being updated and some were out for public consultation:

  • The Planning Regulation 2016 which elaborate on the workings of some aspects of the Act
  • the State Planning Policy (SPP) which outlines the State’s policies and guidelines for local governments to incorporate into their planning schemes
  • the State Development and Assessment Provisions (SDAP) which provide the assessment criteria that State government departments will apply when assessing development applications which impact matters of State interest (described in the SPP)
  • the South East Queensland Regional Plan (SEQRP) which sets out a 50-year vision for the region and the State government’s strategies and actions for enact that vision

These are important documents which set out the government’s way forward for on climate change, vegetation management, and affordable housing amongst other issues. Public consultation on those documents have now closed and the government is busily working through the submissions which have been lodged. ESC Consulting took the opportunity to make comment and we hope that our suggestions might help to refine these instruments.

Queensland Building Plan

To add to the existing State plans, the government is looking to create the Queensland Building Plan as a means to acknowledge the economic and community impact the building & construction industry creates and to set the long-term strategic direction for building and construction in the State. “A plan that guides changes to policy and legislation so we can have a safer, fairer, and more sustainable industry that creates job opportunities and economic growth.”

The areas for discussion are varied but we are encouraged to see the inclusion of Inclusive Communities, Liveable Housing Design, and Sustainable Buildings.

Again public consultation has closed but you can read the areas of discussion here.

Biodiversity areas overlay changes for Brisbane City

In a recent blog, we provided an update on the upcoming changes to the operation of the Biodiversity areas overlay of the Brisbane City Council’s planning scheme. These changes are part of a package of amendments which are currently under review by the State Government and expected to be approved and adopted in mid-late 2017. Click here for more details on the amendment package.

Koala Expert Panel Interim Report

In 2015 koala population modelling described in a Uniquest report clearly showed statistical evidence of dramatic declines in koala populations in South East Queensland ( 80% density decline in the Koala Coast and 54% in Pine Rivers) between 1996 and 2014 despite protection measures currently in place. This led the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection to establish the Koala Expert Panel in 2016 to review existing koala conservation policies and recommend appropriate and realistic actions to reverse the decline in koala population densities.

The Panel conducted an online survey to gather general public comments; held face-to-face meetings with conservation groups, professionals, property development groups, legal firms, local governments and academic institutions. The Panel then undertook an extensive review of existing measures including the operation of offsets for koalas, details of the planning system as it relates to koalas, and the outcomes of previous Government initiatives.

The Panel identified that the failures of the past spread across four main areas: overarching policy and management issues; planning issues; mapping, monitoring and research issues; and governance issues. The interim report goes on to consider  immediate actions proposed by the Queensland Government. However, the Panel is now working over the next six months to synthesise the lessons to be learnt from the past and determine the recommendations on the actions required to reverse the decline in koala population.

The interim report can be found here.

Tiny House Update

Following the successful appeal we led for the Tiny House on Wheels last year, we’ve received a lot of interest from members of the community, the media and industry groups regarding the model’s potential to contribute to future housing supply and diversity. It’s kept us busy!

For those interested in the case itself, we recently published a comprehensive summary of the decision in the Owner Builder Magazine (February / March 2017).

Despite the decision, the building and planning regulatory environment for tiny house options (also referred to as micro housing) remains highly uncertain and varies significantly from locality to locality and state to state. This creates confusion for regulators, the market and consumers and leads to ad hoc outcomes.

So in short… (or in tiny)… there’s still a long way to go.

We’re currently working on a collaborative project which will assist planners and policy makers to better understand the emerging Tiny House movement within Australia and the model’s potential to contribute to flexible, affordable and sustainable housing solutions.

So watch this space!

Oh, and if you missed the episode of The Living Room which featured our favourite Tiny House on Wheels, then you can view it online – it starts at about 21 minutes into the show.

Postcard from the Kimberley

(as published in Viva Voce magazine Autumn 2017 edition)

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