Queensland Law Society (QLS) raised concerns about proposed changes to planning laws at yesterday’s public hearing on the Housing Availability and Affordability (Planning and Other Legislation Amendment) Bill 2023.
QLS, represented by QLS Planning and Environment Law Committee chair Michael Connor, Committee member Troy Webb and Principal Policy Solicitor Wendy Devine, addressed the State Development and Regional Industries Committee at Parliament House.
The Bill, which was introduced to Parliament on 11 October by Steven Miles, Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, aims to amend the Planning Act 2016 (Qld) to respond to current housing challenges.
Ms Devine said QLS supported some parts of the Bill but had identified issues of concern.
“There are significant aspects of the new State facilitated application framework which are left to be prescribed by regulation. QLS is concerned that the approach taken fails to have regard to the institution of parliament in a way which is inconsistent with the Legislative Standards Act 1992,” she said.
“QLS also raised concerns about the proposed new Urban Investigation Zone process. The Bill proposes to restrict compensation rights of landowners within the new zone and we do not support this approach.”
Ms Devine stated another area of concern was that the Bill clarified the validity of development applications for Development Control Plan areas approved before and lodged after the date of the amendments, but not applications yet to be decided.
“We believe this gap is not the intended policy outcome of these amendments. If an applicant is concerned by this outcome, the applicant could with draw the application and re-lodge after commencement, but we suggest this would be time-intensive and costly to the applicant. It may also trigger a new application fee,” she said.
“If this is not the intent, we recommend this gap be considered and addressed before the Bill is passed.”
Otherwise, the legislation might be interpreted to require such applications be assessed under the repealed Integrated Planning Act 1997, following the decision of the Planning & Environment Court in JH Northlakes Pty Ltd v Moreton Bay Regional Council  QPEC 18.
The QLS representatives fielded questions from the parliamentary committee about issues such as the power of the State Government to over-ride local government planning decisions, and the definition of “affordable housing” proposed to be included in regulations which are yet to be made .
The committee is due to table its report on 24 November 2023.
Read the QLS submission here.