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Inundated by a delude of regulation

South-East Queensland is a unique region in Australia, a competing contrast of bustling cities, growing regional centres, traditional towns, historic suburbs, and rural townships, built on river systems, coastal zones, bushland, agricultural land and ringed by mountains.

For many, its complexity is what attracts us, as it offers the perfect balance of accessibility, variety and lifestyle, meaning that over 3.6 million of us now call it home. Across a region of 22,000 square kilometres it incorporates 11 local governments areas from Noosa in the north to the state’s southern border and as a result can be a labyrinth of regulation for the uninitiated, especially when it comes to gaining approvals for developments.

Inertia’s Emma Clements has worked across each region in the South-East and explains the factors that help developments succeed and fail when seeking development approval. “When working with local governments to gain approval for a site, there are only two things that matter; experience and integration.”

“Experience is vital; you have to work with a team that has a thorough understanding of the planning regulations for each of the local government areas because their planning laws are all different. Regulations frequently change and are continuously reviewed and updated in line with public opinion, environmental issues. Each area is unique in terms of population and geography; therefore, consistency is not certain, and even terms vary from region to region.”

“Climate Change is a factor that is currently being applied to planning laws across South-East Queensland, but not in a uniform way. For example, the climate change factors associated with development in the Noosa are different from those in Ipswich which are different again to those on the Gold Coast.”

“Therefore you have to have a thorough understanding of the laws across each region because what is considered acceptable to Moreton Bay Council may be very different to Scenic Rim Council. And what is permitted in one suburb of Brisbane may differ in a neighbouring suburb.”

To give you an example, Emma explains the differing approaches to filling in a floodplain in three different Councils.

  • BCC has a tool known as ‘flood awareness mapping’ which indicates likelihood of a flood occurring from one or more sources: creek, river, overland flow and storm tide. Filling is permitted in Brisbane River floodplain but not encouraged in the creek or overland flow paths unless it can be demonstrated there are no adverse impacts.
  • MBRC assessess flood hazard on risk matrix which takes into account flood frequency as well as flood water depth and flow force.If a site is in medium flood hazard zone only, filling is not permitting, however if it also is the coastal hazard zone,filing is permitted providing the flood risk can be mitigated
  • GCCC allows filling in the floodplain providing the flood storage volume on the site is maintained up to the Designated Flood Level.

“We are also finding that an integrated approach to development applications are leading to better outcomes for clients. At Inertia, we will work with a multidisciplinary team to ensure that no stone is left unturned and that we draw in expertise from across flood, civil and structural specialists. This gives a complete view of a development site, the factors that must be considered and the solutions that can be provided through advanced modelling and/or engineering.”

“Gaining approval for development is about proving that you are within the regulations, understand the nature of the site, can show the community that your project will not negatively impact their lives, and give the relevant authorities surety that your project is appropriate for their region.”

“Ultimately planning laws are there to protect the regions that we call home, and while we may not always like the regulations, they offer enough room for developers to bring projects to life successfully.”

Inertia has a proven track record of ensuring Development Approval, for even the most challenging sites. For more information, please see: