How to Obtain Development Approval in Queensland

What is a Development Approval

A development approval may be referred to as a DA, Planning Permit or Council Approval. 

In the State of Queensland, you may require an approval for your property project if you wish to:

  • Increase dwelling density
  • Increase the intensity of an existing use
  • Change a use
  • Subdivide land
  • Develop land impacted by an environmental or heritage overlay
 
Not every project or property development opportunity will require a development approval, this will depend on the Planning Scheme of your local Council. Every local Council in Queensland has their own Planning Scheme which dictates if your project is assessable under their legislation, whether you require a development approval and how your project should be assessed. 

I need Approval, now what

Whilst every Council in Queensland has its own local planning scheme, how your development application is assessed is dictated by the QLD State Planning Act 2016. The Act includes the Development Assessment Rules. 

Your project if requiring a Council Approval will likely fall under Code or impact Assessment. 

Code assessable projects generally imply your proposal is consistent with the intent of the planning scheme but you must comply with certain codes of development. 

Impact assessable projects generally imply that your proposal is at a higher risk of not complying with the intent of the planning scheme, is subject to a public notification period and third party appeal rights.  

The Development Assessment Process

To obtain a Development Approval, you must complete the development assessment process which is comprised of 5 key steps. Not every project will require all 5 steps 

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Step 1: Development Application and Lodgement

Your private town planner will prepare a development application lodgement package which is to be sent to your local Council (local government authority). 

This development application lodgement package generally includes the following documents:

  • Proposal Plans
  • Applicant Planning Report
  • Code Assessment
  • Council Forms
  • State Forms
  • Technical Reports
 
Most Council’s will spend a few days checking the documents meet their lodgement standards and then will issue you with a fee quote for the Council development application fee. 

Please note that no Council will start their assessment without full payment of the development application fee. 

Step 2: Referral

This step applies to a limited number of development applications. 

Some projects may require ‘referral’ to another agency such as the State Government due to a project being near a transport corridor or impacts mapped Koala habitat. 

This step can only occur once Council provide the applicant (you) with a notice and the referral must be in the prescribed form of the State legislation and the entities requirements. 

Step 3: Information Request

In this step, the Council or referral agency can request further information or amendments to your proposal. 

Council may issue a formal information request, this is a letter that has the subject line “information request” which gives you several months to respond without the development application lapsing. 

Many Council’s may opt to issue an informal information request via email which does not stop the application from lapsing and is intended for small requests to speed up the application process.

An information request is a normal part of the development assessment process and can range from a simple question to 5 pages of requests on more complicated property projects. 

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Once an information request is received by your private town planner, they will issue you with the documentation and advise of a way forward. 

Step 4: Public Notification

This step is only applied to impact assessable development applications. 

During the public notification stage of your application the following must be carried out:

  • Signage on the property frontage
  • A notice in the local paper (or online where applicable) 
  • Letters issued to neighbouring property owners

 

The above must be carried out in the prescribed form of the State planning legislation and be maintained for the entire public notification period. 

The standard notification period is 15 business days, however speak with your private town planner to ensure you have site and time specific advice. 

During the notification period, any member of the public or neighbour can have their say about the proposal. 

Step 5: Decision

This is when you will obtain your development approval. 

Council can however decide the application to approve, partially approval, approve with conditions or refuse.