Planning scheme changes may mean less public input

A PUSH to “reduce red tape” will decrease the number of development applications put out to the public for comment.

The change is among a raft of alterations to the Planning Scheme set to be reviewed next year.

During Wednesday’s ordinary council meeting in Proserpine, councillors reviewed proposed changes to the Planning Scheme, a document that dictates what can be built and where.

Under the current scheme, application uses are categorised as “code assessment if complying with the acceptable outcomes of the applicable code(s). Otherwise impact assessment”.

Impact assessments mean the application is put on public notification so residents can have their say on the project.

However, under the amendment, applications will be subject to less “red tape” according to the council documents.

In some cases, they will not put on public notification when they previously would have been.

Whitsunday Regional Council development services director Neil McGaffin said when applications were submitted, they were assessed on several different codes.

Changes to the Planning Scheme will go to the public next year. Picture: Annette Dew

He said the amendments would mean they would be assessed based on the primary code for the application.

He used the example of an agricultural supply store where the application would be usually assessed against the business activities code, the district centre zone code, the infrastructure code, the landscaping code and the transport and parking code.

“So, we go through all of those and then say ‘It’s code or it’s not code (assessible)’,” Mr McGaffin said.

“What we’re saying is that we will look at the business activities code, because that’s the primary activity with an agricultural supplies store.

“What we’re basically saying is that we don’t want to trigger impact assessment for something relatively minor.”

Mr McGaffin said this would apply to things such as landscaping or the number of car parks required for a development.

Changes to the Planning Scheme will mean smaller development applications are subject to less “red tape”. Photo: Daryl Wright

Changes to the Planning Scheme will mean smaller development applications are subject to less “red tape”. Photo: Daryl Wright

“The necessity to comply with the landscaping code, particularly for existing buildings, is a bit of a fallacy,” he said.

“If something comes in and it requires 12 car parks … and there’s only eight car parks there, we can’t condition them to provide more car parks onsite.

“What we’re saying is, particularly for existing buildings, look at the main zone code, yes it gets kicked up but if it doesn’t comply with the carparking or landscaping code, it’s not really significant.”

Mr McGaffin said after determining whether it was impact or code assessible, the council would then go through all the codes again for a merit assessment before it is approved or denied.

“What it will mean is that we’ll be able to go back to the applicants quicker and say ‘Yes, you’ve got to publicly notify’ or ‘No, you don’t’, and then pass it on to the guys who actually do the formal assessment,” he said.

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Mr McGaffin said larger projects, such as a proposal for a high-rise hotel at Port of Airlie, would still go through public notification because it would impinge on transport and parking codes.

However, assessment would all depend on the use of the building.

In early 2021, a new planning scheme will be put on exhibition that will have 30 proposed rezonings that have been considered by the council over the past 12 months.

At the ordinary council meeting last week, councillors resolved unanimously to include these changes in the planning scheme in the amendment next year.

This means the changes will go through community consultation and a state agency review before they are adopted.

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