Urgent amendments to the planning legislation are in effect to address concerns raised by a range of stakeholders, including local government and industry, in response to the COVID-19. Queensland’s planning legislation has been amended to:
· Allow the Minister to decide when an essential business or use, for example supermarkets, should be able to operate and restock 24 hours per day, seven days a week, during an event such as the COVID-19 public health emergency, or other future disasters.
· Provide the opportunity for any person to seek relief from existing development application conditions or other operating constraints through a simple application to the state for a temporary use licence made to the state.
· Introduce flexibility for the Minister to suspend or extend any of the statutory timeframes across the planning framework.
The new provisions provide for business continuity and supply by removing planning constraints, which could be limiting the operation and delivery of essential services. The amendments also ensure that development assessment, plan-making, and other statutory timeframes under the Planning Act 2016 and Economic Development Act 2012 can be managed, and that local and state government can continue to make decisions and ensure statutory timeframes can be met even if workforces are affected or reduced.
These provisions are now a permanent part of our planning framework, providing flexibility to respond to not only COVID-19, but also to floods, bushfires, cyclones and other disasters. However, the effect of these powers is temporary and only applies for the duration of the declared event.
These provisions commence when the Minister for Planning declares that there is an event, such as a public health emergency or a natural disaster, that will affect state interests.