By Ashley Lane | 27 Jul 2017

As Queensland welcomed in a new planning system on 3 July, we have been busy helping clients understand the changes and how it affects existing developments and future proposals.

Here we look at our top 10 Queensland planning system FAQs to give you an insight into the standout changes and our interpretation of what it might mean for you.

Yes. A positive feature of the Planning Act 2016 (PAct) are the shorter assessment timeframes for development applications (DAs).

We have provided a simplified comparison of the former Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (SPA) and PAct assessment timeframes below:




Confirmation Notice

10 b.d

10 b.d

Give Material to Referral Agency

Up to 20 b.d.

Up to 10 b.d.

Referral Confirmation Notice


5 b.d.

Information Request

Up to 20 b.d.

Up to 10 b.d.

Information Request Response

Up to 6 months

Up to 3 months

Public Notification

15 b.d.

15 b.d

Submission Review


10 b.d.

Assessment and Decision

Up to 40 b.d.

Up to 35 b.d. (less time taken for information request)

Issue Decision Notice

5 b.d.

5 b.d.


(Council timeframes only)

90 b.d.

80 b.d

You can now ‘opt out’ of an Information Request in certain circumstances.


Opting out saves you a minimum of 10 business days in the assessment process. While this might seem attractive on paper, there are risks.


  • Council can still make an informal RFI – therefore other timeframes may need to be extended to give you enough time to properly respond;
  • Council does not have to accept any information provided after the DA is lodged – therefore the risk of a refusal is increased if Council are not satisfied with the information provided initially; and
  • Any later changes to the application may require you to go back to the start of the assessment process – this means your DA may take longer than if you accepted an information request

Unless your application is very straightforward (such as a Code Assessable DA which meets all or most of the Acceptable Outcomes) or has been extensively negotiated through the pre-lodgement process, we would recommend against opting out of an information request.

No. Your DA will be assessed in accordance with the process and timeframes under SPA. The new Act does not affect this process.

Yes. The maximum cap for Infrastructure Charges have been increased as part of the PAct. A number of Council’s, including Brisbane City Council, Logan City Council and Moreton Bay Regional Council have increased their infrastructure charges to reflect this.

The maximum caps for residential uses are now:

  • $20,222.30 for each dwelling with 2 or less bedrooms; and
  • $28,311.20 for each dwelling with 3 or more bedrooms.

The PAct has introduced several changes to common industry terms. The table below provides a comparison of new and old terms to help you get to grips with the new lingo.


Planning Act

Level of assessment

Category of assessment

Applicable codes

Assessment benchmarks

Exempt development

Accepted development

Self-assessable development

Accepted development

Permissible Change

Minor Change

Section 242 preliminary approval

Variation approval

It depends. Council’s planning scheme will usually list the relevant category of assessment. There are now four categories of assessment:

  1. Prohibited development – you can’t do this type of development. You can’t even lodge a DA.
  2. Accepted development – you don’t need a DA to carry out the development.
  3. Code assessment – you need a DA for this type of development. Public notification is not required as part of the assessment process and there is a presumption of approval.
  4. Impact assessment – you need a DA for this type of development. Public notification is required as part of the assessment process and any submitters are afforded third party appeal rights. In addition to the assessment benchmarks, Council can now consider ‘any other relevant matter’ when assessing an impact assessable DA.

Please contact Urbis on 3007 3800 if you are unsure if you require a DA.

Council’s new power to consider ‘Other Relevant Matters’ when deciding a DA has seemingly replaced the previous ‘Sufficient Grounds’ test under SPA. Other relevant matters may include, but are not limited to:

  • Planning need;
  • If a planning instrument is now out of date; and
  • If a planning instrument was based on incorrect information.

There is little guidance given about when and how to use this new power to resolve a conflict between a development application and a planning instrument. Seemingly, the intention is for Council to weigh up all the information provided in a development application and make a decision that best serves the public interest.

How this new power will be used is yet to be seen. Undoubtedly this will be hotly debated in the Planning and Environment Court and we will provide future updates as precedence is established.

No. The changes in the PAct don’t affect your existing Section 242 preliminary approval.

There are now more ways to change or modify an existing approval under the PAct. These include:

  • A minor change – to formally amend an existing approval
  • Other Change – for substantial changes to an existing approval that do not meet the criteria to be a minor change

The minor change process replaces the previous permissible change process and is likely to be used most frequently by our clients. Council are now required to assess and decide a minor change application within 25 business days.

Some Council’s will also continue to offer ‘Generally in Accordance’ changes for very small changes, however this process sits outside any formal process recognised by the PAct.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our team if you’d like to know more. 

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