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Infrastructure Designations Explained.

07/06/2019

What is an Infrastructure Designation?

An Infrastructure Development is like Planning Gold! No longer bestowed on only public sector entities, an Infrastructure Designation (ID) is an opportunity to designate premises for the development of essential infrastructure and services, faster, at lower cost and without risk of appeal. Previously, only public entities were able to request these designations, however since the introduction of the Planning Act 2016, the process is able to be requested by private entities as well.

What May be Allowed as an Infrastructure Designation?

Schools, hospitals and sporting clubs are all examples of what can be allocated as a designation. The scale of a designation may vary from proposing the development of an entire school, for example, to proposing an extension to a single classroom block. Where a designation is considered Low Impact, the Minister has the authority to further streamline the assessment process reducing the assessment timeframe, meaning proposals can be completed sooner!  

The specific types of infrastructure that are able to be designated are detailed in the Planning Regulation 2017.

The key benefits of a designation include:

  • Timeframe: Given the higher level, principle-based assessment process, the time frame of assessment is generally shorter for significant projects.
  • Cost: There is no application fee, nor do Infrastructure charges apply to certain developments.
  • Appeals: Once a decision has be made, there are no third party appeal rights (although there are also no applicant appeals).
  • Approved area: Rather than approving a detailed plan, the approval relates to a development envelope. This affords the proposal greater flexibility in terms of design and siting into the future.
  • Approvals: Given the designation status, no further planning approvals are required for the scope of works approved in the ID. Approval to carry out building work under the Building Act 1975, and operational works approved to carry work outside of the site’s boundaries are still required.

Key Changes from Sustainable Planning Act (SPA) 2009. 

Often referred to as a Community Infrastructure Designation (the old terminology), an ID:

  • Restricts ministerial powers of designation to the Planning Minister only;
  • Simplifies the matters that a designator must be satisfied with to only statutory requirements, or budgetary commitments for the supply of the infrastructure; or that there is or will be a planning need for the efficient and timely supply of the infrastructure;
  • Allows for non-public entity to request the Minister to make, amend, extend or repeal an infrastructure designation.

The Assessment Process.

Infrastructure Designations benefit from a higher level, principle-based assessment process. The assessment is more acutely focused on the direct impacts that the proposal will have on the neighbouring properties, stakeholders, and infrastructure rather than getting bogged down in the particulars of local planning instruments such as Planning Scheme Codes and Policies.

How long do designations last?

Once approved, an infrastructure designation typically lasts for 6 years. Opportunities to extend the duration of the infrastructure designation are available.

Infrastructure projects Wolter Consulting Group has worked on.

Wolter Consulting Group has recently completed a number of Infrastructure Designations Projects of varying scales, including:

  • St Joseph’s College, Coomera (New School)
    • Prep to Grade 12
  • St Ann’s School, Redbank Plains (New School and Child Care Centre)
    • Child Care Centre
    • Prep to Grade 6 (Primary School)
  • Plainland Secondary College, Plainland (New School)
    • Grade 7 to Grade 12 (Secondary School)
  • St Dympna’s Catholic School, Aspley (Existing School)
    • Prep to Grade 6 (Primary School)

Since the Infrastructure Designation process has been made available to the private sector, the process has gradually become more efficient and smoother. Should you wish to obtain further information about the Infrastructure Designation process or how it may benefit your project, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our experienced town planners on (07) 3666 5200.

Coomera School Nearmap.jpg

Pictured: St Joseph’s College, Coomera, Stage 1 completed.

You can find more information on Infrastructure Designations within the following:

Planning Act 2016 https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/act-2016-025

Planning Regulation 2017 https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/sl-2017-0078

Minister’s Guidelines and Rules https://planning.dsdmip.qld.gov.au/planning/better-planning/local-planning