Newspaper closures force planning law changes for Queensland

“Streamlining DA [development application] notification processes in Queensland is a small but crucial change that will mean big projects can keep moving forwards as we maintain our fight against the impacts of COVID-19,” Mr Dick said.

Developers working in an area where regional newspapers have closed down will now be allowed to lodge public notices in state and national newspapers.Credit:Paul Jeffers

In late May, News Corp announced more than 100 print titles across the country would switch to digital-only production, with 14 papers closed entirely.

In south-east Queensland, the Sunshine Coast Daily, Queensland Times, Warwick Daily News and Noosa News mastheads switched to digital only and ceased print editions in June.

Quest community newspapers across Brisbane’s greater regional area also switched to digital only.

Brisbane City Council recently announced fast-tracked minor change developments for applications already approved to support the industry.

Owner-occupiers and residential developments will also have fast-tracked approvals to boost industry engagement, the council announced last month.

Mr Dick said while the coronavirus “isn’t going away”, projects had to continue and workers needed jobs, with Queensland residents still entitled to their feedback on planning and development.

The state government has also temporarily altered statutory requirements around public access to development application documents.

Councils may now make documents online only or directly to interested parties, to reduce the amount of physical handling of paper documents.

“This enables more flexible measures for the public to view documents in a way that is responsive to COVID-19 health and safety concerns,” Mr Dick said.

“The changes will be in effect until December 31, 2020, with the potential to be extended further through legislative amendments following community consultation.”

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