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Law Reform · Healthy Communities

Have your say: Development Assessment Rules

30 November, 2016

It's time to have your say on Development Assessment rules, which are open for comment until 19 December 2016. These rules are important for keeping you involved in the decision-making process.

The Development Assessment (DA) rules (available here) are open for comment until 19 December, and we encourage you to have your say!

These rules are an important instrument in the Queensland planning framework as they provide for:

  • how public notification must be undertaken for impact-assessable development
  • the ability to change and the process for changing a development application
  • when applications must be re-notified

How to make a submission

You can have your say on the DA rules, by making a submission in one of the following ways:

Development Assessment Rules feedback
Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning
PO Box 15009

Any person may make a written submission about any aspect of the draft rules. The submission must be a properly made submission under the Act to be accepted.

Make sure your submission has the following elements, so that it is accepted:

  • lodged by 5pm, 19 December
  • addressed using one of the details above, to Deputy Premier Trad
  • if via mail, remember to sign it. This isn't necessary if it's sent by email.
  • provide your name and a postal address
  • provide your key point and information to support your key points.

Our analysis of the DA rules

There have been some positive amendments made to the rules in this version, compared to the previous draft iteration.

Suggested key points of note include:

  • Support fixed assessment process - so public notification must occur after all information received (Rules s16)

Previously, the Department proposed to introduce a ‘floating assessment process’ where public notification could have occurred prior to all information being provided by the applicant. This draft now brings back the fixed process where the public notification stage can only occur once the information request period has been completed. This provides much more certainty for the community that they will have all information available upon being notified of the application.

  • Support consistent mandatory public notification methods (Rules s17.1)

Previously, the Department proposed to introduce the ability for the assessment manager to choose the notification method for each development, rather than providing mandatory means of undertaking notification as we have now. This draft now brings back mandatory methods of public notification for all impact-assessable applications. This is positive as it provides more certainty to all as to how the community can expect to be notified of development.

We recommend that notification on a local government website and email list should also be a mandatory form of notification in today's world.

  • Support ability to accept submissions even if not 'properly made' (Rules s19.1(b))

The Rules provide that the assessment manager may accept a submission even where that submission does not comply with the requirements of a 'properly made submission'. This is a positive discretion for the community in that it ensures that the Rules are not overly strict in preventing the allowance of minor or accidental omissions in submissions. This is supported.

  • Remove ability to 'opt-out' of providing information - creates distrust and non-collaborative culture (Rules s11.1).

Applicants can now 'opt out' of providing information requested by an assessment manager to help them better understand their application. This is an unhelpful feature introduced by the Rules. The planning framework should support a collaborative, open and trusting relationship between assessment managers and applicant. Giving the applicant the ability to say up front that they refuse to provide more information that might be requested of them by the assessment manager does not support this. This applicant power may also prevent the community from accessing information that would otherwise be required to be produced to help them better understand the application. This should be removed.

  • Remove discretion around re-notification - favour consultation (Rules s26.2(a))

The Rules provide the assessment manager with the ability to consider whether a change to an application would have resulted in further submissions. This is an unacceptable discretion as the assessment manager can never be in a position to know without doubt what is of import to the community. This discretion should be replaced with a requirement to re-notify and change that is not minor, regardless of its cause. Consultation leads to better decision making.

Environmental Defenders Office Queensland (EDO Qld) gives a strong legal voice to the environment when needed most.

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