FEATURE: Inside QLD's proposed single State Planning Policy (SPP)


The Queensland State Government has released a draft single State Planning Policy (SPP) for consultation and comment, closing on 12 June 2013. It combines 13 current State policies into one single policy, adding some additional matters for consideration, with 18 State Interests grouped under 5 themes.

The objectives of the single SPP are to express the State’s planning and development interests in a single place and in a complete and concise format to encourage flexible, innovative and locally appropriate approaches to planning.

It will be supported by tools and guidance material to assist implementation. Inherent in these objectives is the expectation that the single SPP will also make the planning and development assessment processes more streamlined, efficient, facilitative and transparent.

The State interests are grouped under 5 main themes:

  • Housing and liveable communities (embracing amenity and community wellbeing; land development and housing supply)
  • Economic growth (agriculture; development and construction; mining and extractive resources; tourism)
  • Environment and heritage (biodiversity; coastal environment; cultural heritage; healthy waterways)
  • Hazards and  safety (air, noise and other emissions; hazardous materials; natural hazards)
  • Transport and infrastructure (state infrastructure and services; state transport infrastructure and networks; strategic airports and aviation facilities; strategic ports; water supply catchments and infrastructure.
  • Making or amending planning instruments (planning schemes, regional plans, etc)
  • Development assessment decision making, and
  • Designating land for community infrastructure.
  • The State’s interests will be administered by the chief executive responsible for SPA, who is understood to be the Director General of DSDIP. Development applications will be coordinated by a single State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA) within DSDIP.
  • While the SPP affects both plan making and development assessment (DA), only 10 of the State Interests are currently identified to have a DA function, which apply if the SPP is not already appropriately reflected in a Planning Scheme or Regional Plan and the site is a nominated geographic area, which vary for each State Interest. This limitation could impede the objective of creating more “balance” in the future decision making.
  • It is anticipated there will be a new hierarchy of planning instruments, with the SPP on top.
  • There is much work still in progress, including preparation of guidelines, the State Development Assessment Provisions (SDAP) and off-sets. Completion of these, together with accurate mapping, will be essential for clarity and accuracy in identifying the State’s interests. It is also unclear what weight is to be given to the “Guidance Material” in the application of the SPP.
  • It is noted that some of the State Interests include matters for local governments to have regard to in preparing planning schemes which are not readily influenced by such instruments. For example in the draft policy for land development and housing supply.
  • The wording could also be tightened up to improve the clarity and practicality of implementation and would benefit from avoiding language such as “ the greatest extent practicable” (Environment and Heritage).

A single State Planning Policy and the coordination of State Interests through a centralised State Assessment and Referral Agency are very good ideas and are arguably long overdue.

The real value, however, will be realised only through the completion of work in progress, accurate and up-to-date mapping and the release of more detail. The ultimate success will be measured through the implementation and associated culture changes to achieve the stated objectives.


This feature was published by THG, a Brisbane-based urban development consultancy firm specialising in Planning, Surveying, Urban Design, Economics Strategy & Research, Landscape Architecture and Marketing & Design. THG is contributing to the Urban Development Institute of Australia's (QLD) effort to compile appropriate submissions to the State Government on the draft single SPP. THG is a Foundation Member of Australia’s first national non-profit organisation focused purely on liveability – Partners for Livable Communities Australia (PLC).

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