Climate change resilience and creating more sustainable cities are two of the major threads in ShapingSEQ, the draft South East Queensland Regional Plan released today (Thursday) by the Queensland government.

The plan proposes a 50-year roadmap for ensuring the region can provide affordable living, protect its natural assets and environment and generate jobs in new and emerging industries.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning Jackie Trad said the draft plan is all about sustainably catering for the region’s projected population growth of 3.5 million people over the next 25 years.

“We are looking, for the first time, beyond the boundary of a 25-year plan and have developed a 50-year vision that looks ahead to the region’s longer-term future and how SEQ responds to global changes,” Ms Trad said.

“Throughout the state we are seeing innovative new industries emerge, the delivery of exciting urban renewal precincts and more and more people choosing to call Queensland home.

“Through smart planning we can ensure that we are ready to capitalise on the transition to a services and knowledge driven economy. That means a lift in economic growth and more jobs for Queenslanders.”

In terms of infrastructure planning, the focus is squarely on encouraging low-carbon options, with the draft plan stating that the priority in terms of transport will be projects that increase the share of trips made by walking, cycling or public transport rather than cars.

At the same time, electric vehicles are highlighted as a way to improve sustainability.

Global megatrends the plan identifies as having an influence on change in the region include growing pressure on diminishing resources, pressure on biodiversity, climate change and disaster resilience and increasing urbanism.

It emphasises the role of design in creating sustainable and active places that can contribute to the region’s reputation for liveability, and noted that “good design adds economic, social and environmental value” to places.

“The draft plan focuses on affordable living – not just affordable housing – and looks at the way that people interact with their community and the services around them,” Ms Trad said.

“We have identified areas of regional economic significance throughout the southeast to facilitate economic growth outside the major employment hubs and enable people to work and live closer to home.

“Unlocking land already within the urban footprint is critical, ensuring that there is less demand for expanding into our natural environment.”

The Property Council of Australia has welcomed the draft plan. Queensland executive director of the PCA Chris Mountford, said that the refresh of the State Government’s seven year old regional land-use plan is an important moment for industry, councils and the broader community alike.

“While it’s certainly not everything the property industry feels is required, it does appear the State has taken onboard a number of the recommendations we have made during the consultation process,” Mr Mountford said.

“These included a commitment to greater monitoring and reporting against the plan, a strategic assessment of environmental values and focus on delivering employment as well as housing across the region. “

The plan proposed a shift toward more infill development and a target of 60 per cent infill and 40 per cent Greenfield development over the next 25 years.

“What the industry wants to deliver is a wide range of housing choice for South East Queenslanders,” Mr Mountford said.

He said the industry will be analyzing the target to see if it could create any “artificial constraint” on the delivery of new housing that could in turn impact affordability.

“The proposed modest expansion of the urban footprint isn’t anything revolutionary, but it acknowledges that growth is inevitable and Government’s role is to appropriately cater for it in a sustainable manner,” Mr Mountford said.

He said the industry supports the proposed strategic region-wide assessment of environmental considerations, which will include identifying areas that should be protected.

“Industry strongly supports the push to identify with certainty those areas that should be protected from urban uses, and those areas where urban uses are agreed to be the highest and best use of the land,” Mr Mountford said.

“This will not only reduce red tape, but also achieve far better environmental outcomes.”

State vice president [QLD] of the Planning Institute of Australia, Nicole Bennetts, said the organisation has been advocating for a new regional plan that can provide a vision and overall direction for the people of the region.

“We are grateful that this will enable the community to have a say and input into the future direction of the SEQ,” she said.

“Before the Institute comes to any conclusions on the draft regional plan, we will investigate the draft plan in detail,” Ms Bennetts said.

“In particular we will be looking at key issues that are affecting the lifestyle of SEQ residents to ensure that they are appropriately embedded in the draft regional plan.”

Issues PIA has identified as being particularly important include integrating expected growth appropriately with planned infrastructure provision, protecting agricultural land, economic development opportunities, management of natural assets, and providing housing for a diversity of lifestyle choices.

“We congratulate the current Government for finalising the draft regional plan and facilitating a healthy debate. We look forward to continue to working with the government on the regional plan,” Ms Bennett said.

Public consultation on the draft plan has now commenced, with comments being taken until March 3, 2017. The government then expects the final plan will come into effect in mid-2017.

  • Read the ShapingSEQ draft plan here