Planning for People, not Profit

Planning for People, not Profit

Across Queensland, residents have lost control of their neighbourhoods. The Greens would fundamentally transform and democratise our planning system. 

Across Queensland, residents have lost control of their neighbourhoods.

The Greens would fundamentally transform and democratise our planning system. We’ll take power from the developers and give it back to everyday Queenslanders.

Planning for People, not Profit

The Queensland Greens would:

Developers currently get a free ride

When land is rezoned for a higher use, property developers make massive, windfall profits, but they don’t pay anything for the privilege. This is a massive giveaway of public wealth into private hands. The current system encourages corruption and backroom deals, and it makes property speculation worse, pushing up prices.

Overwhelmingly, these massive “gifts” flow to rich, well-connected property developers who can afford expensive lobbyists. Queensland research by Murray and Frijters (2015) has shown that "well-connected" landowners held 75% of the land rezoned in growth areas, compared with only 12% of comparable land immediately outside the rezoning.1

Murray and Frijters’ work has uncovered an alarming network of informal “mates” who benefit from public handouts. Political donations, informal networks and the revolving door between big corporations, Labor and the LNP keep these favors flowing. It’s time to turn off the tap.

Make Property Developers Pay

The Greens would impose a 75% Developer Tax on increases in land value due to rezoning. Estimates from Murray and Frijters shows that Queensland would earn $1.8 billion per year.2 That’s an extra $9 billion over five years that we can use to pay for more affordable housing, schools and hospitals.

In the ACT, a similar set of policies brings in $183 million per year on a much smaller tax base. This system has been in place since 1971.

rezoning

Developer Tax on Land Rezoning

The Developer Tax would apply to any land which is rezoned to a higher use, whether as part of a new neighbourhood plan or on an ad hoc basis. It would be levied at 75% of the difference between the officially assessed land value before the rezoning compared to the land value afterwards. The amount of tax due would be assessed at the time the land is rezoned. Landowners would not need to pay the tax until a development application is approved under the new higher zone.

This means a homeowner would not need to pay the tax if their land happens to be rezoned, unless they have a development application approved under the new higher zone, so applying for a renovation won’t necessarily trigger the charging of the tax.

infrastrcture

Remove the cap on developer infrastructure charges

The Queensland government imposes an arbitrary $20,000 cap on “infrastructure charges” for new developments which local governments use to fund vital facilities like parks and public transport.

The Greens would remove these caps on infrastructure charges so that local councils have the flexibility to charge developers according to the cost of delivering crucial infrastructure.

Deliberative democracy
for neighbourhood plans

Our political system has been corrupted by dodgy donations from property developers, and residents feel like they’ve lost control of their communities. Right now, local governments write neighbourhood plans, conduct tokenistic “community consultation” and then approve the plans with very little scrutiny.

We would put power in the hands of residents by launching a groundbreaking trial of deliberative neighbourhood democracy.

Collaborative planning

Collaborative Planning

Instead of being written and then rubber stamped by local governments, neighbourhood plans would be crafted by planning experts, elected councillors and “citizen juries” from the local area and the region. Members of the citizen juries would be paid for their time, and would be given the necessary information, time, space and resources to deliberate.

vote

Residents have the final say

In the trial, neighbourhood plans would need to be approved by a community referendum held to coincide with local or State government elections. Local governments would still need to approve the plans, but residents would have the final say.

Tighten Neighbourhood Plans

Far too often, powerful and well-connected property developers “negotiate” exemptions and carve-outs from crucial planning rules. The Queensland Greens would strengthen the rules to end these special deals.

Strict and binding height limits

Individual developers should not be allowed ‘performance-based’ exemptions to height limits, as the potential for corruption is too high. Developers and landowners need certainty, but currently some sites zoned for 10 storeys are approved for 15.

Proper transitioning and no exemptions to boundary setbacks

The Greens would seek to abolish exemptions to side or rear boundary setbacks. Setback limits can always be changed through the neighbourhood planning process, but not on an ad hoc basis for individual developers. In much the same way, neighbourhood plans must also ensure appropriate transition occurs between zones.

Binding minimum requirements for trees and green space

The Greens would make sure that publicly-accessible green space and other community facilities are provided on site for major developments rather than money being “allocated” for provision elsewhere which may never eventuate. Developers would also be required to allocate funding for maintenance of on-site green space in advance.

Overhaul the Planning Act

Far too often, powerful and well-connected property developers “negotiate” exemptions and carve-outs from crucial planning rules. The Queensland Greens would strengthen the rules to end these special deals.

Make sure all major developments are "Impact Assessable"

Any development project - whether commercial or residential - should be treated as “impact assessable” if it is eight or more storeys in height, or if it is five or more storeys taller than existing neighbouring properties.

The Greens would fundamentally overhaul the State Development Act and the Economic Development Act to limit priority development areas to State-owned and State-run projects rather than for-profit projects. This would mean that many for-profit projects which currently avoid proper assessment and appeal rights under priority development areas would be subject to proper impact assessments.

Strengthen community objection rights

Even with our ambitious reforms, it’s critical that ordinary residents still have the power to challenge bad developments in the Planning and Environment court. The Greens would extend full “merits review” to any “material change of use” under special development zones like State Development Areas.

The Greens would keep the current rules which allow residents to challenge developments in the public interest without fear of paying the developers’ legal costs.

We would also increase access to information for local residents by mandating the publication of rigorous economic modelling and assessment for major projects.

Close loopholes in the Planning Act

The Greens would increase community certainty in the planning system by removing a series of loopholes in the Planning Act.

We would remove the discretion which allows State or local governments to:

  • provide exemption certificates from assessment;
  • allow a developer to choose who decides their application through ‘alternative’ assessment managers; and
  • allow a ‘minor change of use’ that is not a material change of use and therefore does not need development approval

We would also remove discretions which allow property developers to:

  • ‘opt out’ of providing information requested by an assessment manager or referral agency; and
  • include broadly any ‘ancillary uses’ under a development approval. Instead, we would reinstate the more precise definition of ‘use’ as ‘incidental to and necessarily associated with the use of the premises’, as provided under the Sustainable Planning Act 2009.

The Greens would grant veto power over development applications to environment and heritage assessors.

Less construction noise on Saturdays

Currently Queensland legislation allows for construction noise between 6.30am and 6.30pm Monday to Saturday. We propose bringing our rules into line with Victoria and New South Wales, where construction noise is allowed 7.00am to 6.00pm Monday to Friday and 8.00am to 1.00pm on Saturday.

These changes would be implemented in consultation with construction workers, unions and businesses. Where earlier starting times are required due to heat, the total number of hours should be consistent with Victoria and New South Wales.

  Current rules Proposed new rules
Monday - Friday 6.30am to 6.30pm 7.00am to 6.00pm
Saturday 6.30am to 6.30pm 8.00am to 1.00pm

No development in extremely flood-prone areas

Long-term climate change modelling suggests that rising sea levels and changing rainfall patterns mean floods in Queensland will become more frequent and severe in the future.

We support introducing State government legislation prohibiting new residential dwellings on sites which are currently identified as having a once in 20 years (or higher) risk of flooding from rivers, creeks and waterways (5% Annual Exceedance Probability). Such sites should only be used for public parks and nature reserves, sport and recreation, agricultural purposes, nurseries and landscaping supplies, and car parking.

Existing flood buy-back programs should be extended to these areas where appropriate.

References:

  1. Murray and Frijters, April 2015, Clean Money in a Dirty System: Relationship Networks and Land Rezoning in Queensland, Institute for the Study of Labor Discussion Paper No. 9028. http://ftp.iza.org/dp9028.pdf
  2. Murray and Frijters, 2017, Game of Mates, page 20