Navigating the Health Care Service Approval Maze: How a Town Planner Can Help

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Navigating the development approval process for a Health Care Service can be a complex and challenging task.

From understanding the regulations and guidelines governing the establishment and operation of healthcare services, to managing the impact on neighbouring residential uses, there are many factors to consider in obtaining the necessary approvals.

In this blog post, we will explore the various aspects of obtaining Health Care Service approvals in Queensland and discuss how a JREY® town planner can assist you in navigating the Council approval maze.

What is a 'Health Care Service' use?

In Queensland, the term “Health Care Service” is a defined use type in the Planning Regulation 2017.

It refers to the use of premises for medical, paramedical, alternative health therapies, or general health care purposes, where overnight accommodation is not provided on the premises.

Examples of Health Care Services include dental clinics, medical centres, physiotherapy clinics, and alternative therapy practices.

It is important to note that this definition does not include community care centers or hospitals.

What planning zone can I set up my service?

Each local government in Queensland has different requirements for obtaining development approvals for Health Care Services, but they generally allow these services to operate in commercial zones and may consider them in residential zones depending on the scale and operational requirements of the proposed service.

If you are seeking an easy development approval, or to remove the need for a development approval, it is best to look at sites that are zoned for commerical uses. 

If you are looking at more residential localities, there are some additional barriers to entry. 

By way of example in Brisbane, small health care services are somewhat envisioned in the low density residential zone, where you can meet the below criteria, however this would be an impact assessable application:

“Development for a compatible and individual small-scale non-residential use which is a community care centrecommunity usehealth care serviceofficeshop or veterinary service (together with any associated caretaker’s accommodation or dwelling unit), where not on land within the Commercial character building overlay is to:


    1. have a gross floor area of less than 250m2;
    2. serve local residents’ day-to-day needs;
    3. not undermine the viability of a nearby centre.”
 
If you are looking to establish a dental clinic, medical centre or physiotherapy clinic you will need to ensure you are able to meet the zoning requirements for your use. 
Example JREY® Approval: Dentistry approved in the Medium Density Residential – High rise precinct of Logan City Council.

What information does Council require?

There are a number of requirements you must meet and information your private planning compliance specialist (town planner) will need to assist you to obtain development approval such as:

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Example JREY® Approval: Medical Centre Approved in Gympie, QLD.

Common Questions and Answers

Setting up a new dental practice, phyiso or medical service? Here are some common questions and answers. 

External Design Requirements

There are a number of design elements and parameters each Council in Queensland will require a health care service to be designed to. 

Some examples of common design code requirements include:

  • Setbacks
  • Building Height 
  • Casual Surveillance 
  • Street Activation
  • Building Materials & Colours
  • Landscaping

 

Example JREY® Approval: Medical Centre on the Gold Coast Approved on a site previously approved for a multiple unit residential development.

Carparking Requirements

The standard council car parking rates for a Health Care Service in Queensland may vary depending on the local government, the zoning and the specific requirements of the proposed service.

Generally, the rates are determined based on the expected number of staff and visitors, the size of the facility, and the location of the premises.

For example, in some areas, a medical centre may be required to provide one car park for every two practitioners, while in others, the requirement may be one car park for every three practitioners.

Additionally, some councils may require a minimum number of car parks per square meter of floor area for Health Care Services. It is important to consult with JREY® to determine the specific car parking requirements for your proposed Health Care Service.

JREY® Example: Brisbane City Carparking rates found in Schedule 6 of the Planning Scheme.
JREY® Example: Sunshine Coast Carparking rates found in the Other Development Codes.

Servicing Requirements

Servicing generally refers to the provision of essential services such as water supply, sewerage, electricity, gas, telecommunications, and waste management to the site.

Servicing also includes the design and construction of infrastructure such as driveways, roads, footpaths, street lighting, and drainage systems to support the development.

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Some items to consider as part of your proposal include:

Infrastructure Charges

Infrastructure charges are levied by the local council as a contribution towards the cost of providing new or upgraded infrastructure such as roads, water, and sewerage. These charges are typically calculated based on the expected demand for infrastructure generated by any development.

Where relocating a health care use into an existing building, infrastructure charges may not apply. If you are extending an existing building to increase gross floor area, you may be charged a fee for the extra floor space. If you are proposing a new build, it is probable that you will need to pay infrastructure charges for the usable floor areas. 

It is important to note that each local council may have different infrastructure charging policies and rates, so it is best to consult with JREY® or the local council to determine the specific infrastructure charges for your proposed Health Care Service.

Example JREY® Approval: Infrastructure charges applied to an approved medical centre by Gold Coast City Council (please note these are Council charges only). No credit was applied as the development site was vacant.

Stormwater

“Lawful Point of Discharge” (LPoD) refers to the removal of stormwater from a site.

The LPoD is the point at which stormwater is discharged from a property into a public stormwater system, such as a street gutter, a council-owned drainage channel, or a natural watercourse.

 

The LPoD must be approved by the local council and comply with the relevant stormwater management regulations and guidelines to ensure that it does not cause flooding, erosion, or other environmental impacts on neighbouring properties.

The LPoD is an important aspect of the development approval process and must be considered by town planners, engineers, and other professionals involved in the design and construction of buildings and infrastructure.

Example JREY® Approval: Each project where building new or extending will require a stormwater management plan. Where a large site, stormwater quality planning must also be provided by an RPEQ.