Qld is divided into 77 Local Government Council areas. Each Council is responsible for providing basic infrastructure and services through long term planning frameworks (Strategic Planning) and lawful frameworks (Statutory Planning).
Each Council also adopts its own Planning Scheme with guidance from the State. The Planning Scheme sets out the development specifications that are relevant to the local area (e.g. building height, setback and density guidelines).
Development applications are assessed against the Council’s local development specifications or codes in the Planning Scheme. Council also assesses development applications using the decision making rules, timeframes and public notification requirements set out in the Planning Act 2016 (see top of page). For more information about Queensland’s planning system, click here.
The development specifications or codes in the Council’s Planning Scheme allow for two possible outcomes: An ‘Acceptable Outcome’ or a ‘Performance Outcome’. Acceptable Outcomes “are established ways to achieve the compliance with the code”*. They provide an example of how to comply with the code.
If a development does not strictly comply with the example identified in the Acceptable Outcome, the planning scheme provides flexibility to allow for innovative solutions or different approaches that still achieve the overall aim of the code. These are known as ‘Performance Outcomes’.
Planning schemes set out a long term vision for the future of the area in their Strategic Framework. However, they are written at a set point in time and are not always able to plan for changed local circumstances, innovation in technology and changing consumer trends. Development proposals that are in conflict with the planning scheme can still be lodged for assessment and may be approved by Council if there are significant community benefits.
The benefit of this flexible approach is that it focuses on delivering better outcomes, rather than being constrained by a prescriptive and inflexible development framework. The system is set up to ensure that each development is assessed on its merits as opposed to a ‘one size fits all approach’; We support this type of performance based planning in Queensland because it allows for greater scope to create good development outcomes in the form of design excellence, innovation, sustainability and community dividend.
*(Brisbane City Council: https://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/planning-building/planning-guidelines-tools/brisbane-city- plan-2014/how- to-use- city-plan)
Disclaimer: The information on this page is intended as a plain English guide to the town planning system in Queensland. While all care has been taken in its preparation, it is not a substitute for professional town planning or legal advice.