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Changes to public notification and public access to documents for Queensland planning applications

15 July 2020

#Planning, Environment & Sustainability, #COVID-19

Published by:

Andrew Magoffin

Changes to public notification and public access to documents for Queensland planning applications

On 23 April 2020, the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020 (Qld) (COVID Emergency Act) commenced in Queensland. Amongst other things, the COVID Emergency Act enables the making of regulations under Acts for particular relevant matters, including for an Act that requires the publication or display of a notice or advertisement for a particular purpose.

On 26 June 2020, pursuant to that regulation-making power, the Planning (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020 (Qld) (COVID Emergency Planning Regulation) commenced. It applies to development applications and change applications made under the Planning Act 2016 (Qld) (Planning Act) for which public notification must be undertaken, where notification has not been given prior to its commencement.

The COVID Emergency Planning Regulation has the following effects:

  • it modifies the Development Assessment Rules (DA Rules) to:
    • allow public notice of a development application or change application made under the Planning Act to be given in an online local newspaper if there is no hard copy local newspaper for the locality of the premises that is the subject of the application
    • require that a relevant notice in an online local newspaper include the relevant information for the application (rather than take the form of what an equivalent notice must take if published in a hard copy newspaper); and
  • where publicly notifying development applications for an area with no local newspaper, it permits, during the response period between 26 June 2020 and 31 December 2020, a public notice of a development application or change application to be given in one or more of the following ways:
    • by publishing a notice at least once in a hard copy State or national newspaper in the requisite form
    • by publishing a notice at least once in an online State or national newspaper containing the relevant information
    • by having the assessment manager publish a notice containing the relevant information (but only where the end of the notification period is no later than 18 December 2020) on its website if development applications and change applications are published on this website under relevant provisions of the Planning Regulation 2017 (Qld)
    • by giving a notice that complies with the relevant public notice requirements for the application to the occupier of each lot in the identified area for the application.

The option of giving notice to the occupiers of each lot in the “identified area” is interesting because it departs from the ordinary requirement under the DA Rules to give notice to owners of land adjoining the proposed development.

Looking at the COVID Emergency Planning Regulation definition, it states that “Identified area, for a development application or change application, means an area identified by the assessment manager for the application as having occupiers that are likely to be interested in the application.” Three aspects of this definition are novel for present purposes:

  • the use of the term “occupiers” rather than the term used in the DA Rules (adjoining owners)
  • the subjectivity of what comprises the “identified area” (defined by those occupiers “likely to be interested in the application”)
  • it is the assessment manager who decides or defines the “identified area” (rather than an applicant being able to readily determine those to whom a notice must be sent).

The COVID Emergency Planning Regulation also sets out temporary arrangements regarding public access to documents for those who must or may keep relevant documents for inspection and purchase, and those who request to inspect those documents.

The COVID Emergency Planning Regulation is due to expire on 31 December 2020, unless extended prior.

Author: Andrew Magoffin

Disclaimer
The information in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this newsletter is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future

Published by:

Andrew Magoffin

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