30 Oct 2023

Queensland’s Housing Availability And affordability Planning and other legislation amendment Bill 2023. 

The Housing Availability and Affordability (Planning and Other Legislation Amendment) Bill 2023 (HAA Bill) recently introduced to parliament represents the Queensland Government’s commitment to progressing a key action from the Queensland Housing Summit and recommendations from the National Cabinet’s Planning Reform Blueprint.

The new tools, informed by learnings from the Growth Areas Team’s initial program of work, seek to remove the critical barriers to development and unlock much needed land and housing supply. 

Our team of experts have reviewed the bill and provide some key insights below:

  • Easements & Acquisitions – new powers afforded to the Planning Minister to acquire land and create easements for critical development infrastructure.
  • State Facilitated Applications – a new streamlined development assessment pathway to facilitate development that is a priority to the state.
  • Urban Investigation Zone – introduction of a new ‘transitional’ zone to better
    sequence development and allow detailed land use and infrastructure planning to occur.
  • Operational Amendments – to optimise and improve functionality aspects of the Planning Act 2016.


Our initial thoughts:
  • The bold step to grant the Planning Minister powers to acquire land for critical development infrastructure is anticipated to unlock significant underutilised urban footprint land dating back to the 2005 version of the South East Queensland Regional Plan.
  • An alternative streamlined assessment pathway removing third party appeal rights for development that is a state priority (e.g. affordable infill housing) will provide greater certainty and give industry the confidence to bring forward and deliver appropriate development in a timely manner.
  • Whilst the concept of a ‘transitional’ zone to provide time for local governments to align land use and infrastructure planning to sequence growth is supported in principle, uncertainty around the timeframes (up to five years) for Councils to undertake and implement the relevant planning required is a concern.


Next steps:
  • The HAA Bill has been referred to the State Development and Regional Industries Committee for consideration with its report to Parliament due on 24 November 2023. Once tabled, the Government has three months to respond to the report’s recommendations (if any).

A key outcome of the Underutilised Urban Footprint Investigations noted that a lack of development infrastructure was a critical barrier for development occurring on these identified sites.

To unlock this important part of the land supply pipeline, the HAA Bill includes provisions which would allow the State to intervene to deliver infrastructure where all other options have been exhausted (e.g. negotiating by agreement or reaching out to local governments). This extends beyond the scope of existing Acquisition legislation by allowing the State to acquire land, even when there is a benefit for a private entity (e.g. developers or landowners).

We anticipate that this new tool will be most impactful in greenfield areas allowing the State and Councils to plan, acquire and deliver critical infrastructure (e.g. water, stormwater, sewer, transport, parks and community networks). An important tool in proactively resolving infrastructure networks in heavily fragmented areas in existing Urban Footprint.

The State Facilitate Application (SFA) pathway provides an alternative streamlined approvals process for developments which are deemed to be of priority to the State (e.g. affordable housing in infill areas, noting however that the definition/criteria will be further clarified as part of a future Planning Regulation amendment).

Under this process, the Minister will have discretionary power to declare a State Facilitated Application which is intended to minimise delays in getting development ‘on ground’ by providing greater certainty, including the removal of third party appeal rights and/or resolving outdated planning scheme settings that are a barrier to allow development with demonstrated planning need proceeding. The SFA pathway is expected through a two-step process, involving an initial declaration request and determination stage, followed by a formal application assessment stage.

We anticipate that this new tool will have the greatest impact in infill areas and facilitate the densification of land that are well-located with access to parks, essential services and public and active transportation services. These areas are also anticipated to contribute to a significant portion of the dwelling house targets in consolidation areas.

Key learnings from the Caboolture West structure planning process has led to the introduction of the new ‘Urban Investigation Zone’ (UIZ), intended to provide Councils time to align land use and infrastructure planning to ease pressures on piecemeal development.

This new zone will likely replace existing Emerging Community Zones and prohibit particular development until such time that Planning Schemes and Local Government Infrastructure Plans are amended to reflect the planning intent.

To avoid sites remaining in the UIZ indefinitely, the State has proposed a five-year review process to demonstrate need for the zone as well as the ability for development to be facilitated through the SFA pathway, if it is deemed to meet the state priority test.

This new tool is anticipated to have a negative impact on greenfield areas and potentially pause development for up to five years, a significant risk to supply, in the current housing crisis.

The HAA Bill also proposes amendments to make operational and process improvements to ensure that the planning framework continues to be effective and robust. These elements include:

  • Streamlining the Planning Minister’s direction powers for amendments of local planning
    instruments to align with state interests.
  • Streamlining renewal and registration for urban encroachment provisions for industrial land uses and other premises.
  • Modernising public notice requirements – no longer required to publish in a hard copy newspaper.
  • Modernising the operation of Development Control Plans within the planning framework
    and ensuring existing approvals are valid.
  • Improving the functionality of applicable events and temporary use licenses.
  • Reduced regulatory burdens for State and local governments by improving processes
    (e.g. removes duplicated assessment of heritage places).


If you have any questions, reach out to our team below, or you can download our summary here. 



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