Getting Regional Planning Right

In late 2013, the Queensland Government commenced its review of the South East Queensland Regional Plan (SEQRP) 2009-2031.

The original SEQRP was released in 2005 and then updated in 2009. So with a decade of regional planning experience in the bank, it time to ask - what have we learned?

The fact is that both iterations have failed to fulfil their promise. They have not performed as a blueprint for growth.

Each Plan has established an urban footprint and set residential dwelling targets for local governments. While some councils have embraced these, others have consistently chosen to ignore them, and instead play by their own rules.

So the chief lesson from past SEQRPs is that they have not translated into local government planning schemes and outcomes on the ground.

This continues to contribute to lengthy delays for developers, exorbitant approval costs, increased levels of litigation, and ultimately, higher costs for home buyers.

Beyond this obvious requirement, there are two other key features the property industry must see in the next regional plan. The first is an embedded infrastructure strategy. A regional plan that doesn’t link to a regional infrastructure plan will not provide certainty to industry, councils or the community. It is a must have in the next SEQRP.

A part of this infrastructure strategy should be a new approach to prioritising and funding local government infrastructure so that it supports the goals of the SEQRP.

The second mandatory feature of the next regional plan is resolving the current challenges confronting the industry following the listing of the Koala as vulnerable under the Federal EPBC legislation. If the SEQRP doesn’t resolve this duplication of protections, it will hold little value.

The new SEQRP must stand apart from its predecessors. The current review provides an opportunity to ensure the plan is more than words, and leads to action that will unlock urban land, promote economic development and restore affordability to the Queensland housing market.

Kathy Mac Dermott is Executive Director, Queensland at the Property Council of Australia

This piece was first published in the Courier Mail