Sustainable Planning Act 2009 - Queensland


The Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (SPA) provides the framework for planning and development assessment across Queensland with the object of managing development and its effects in a way that is ecologically sustainable.

The SPA establishes processes for making and amending state and local planning instruments, deals with planning partnerships, including declared master plan areas, and set out the process for designating land for community infrastructure.

The SPA also establishes the Integrated Development Assessment System which links policies expressed through a range of planning instruments with real outcomes through a comprehensive, flexible, responsive and accountable performance-based development assessment system.

The SPA provides for uniform enforcement and appeal provisions, and also covers other matters concerning development, including infrastructure charging and regional planning.

The following Subordinate Legislation should be examined:

  • Sustainable Planning Regulation 2009 (SPR)

The following Guides or Booklets are available:

The Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning's website contains a variety of publications including guidelines and fact sheets about IDAS, plan making, community infrastructure designation and infrastructure changing.

The SPA comprehensively defines each of the following elements of development:

  • carrying out of building work
  • carrying out operational work
  • reconfiguring a lot
  • making a material change of use of premises.

Under the SPA, there are five categories of development. Development may either be:

  • exempt development
  • self-assessable development
  • development requiring compliance assessment
  • assessable development, or
  • prohibited development.

The SPR prescribes the category of development for particular activities. A planning scheme may also identify self-assessable development, development requiring compliance assessment, assessable development and prohibited development.

All development is considered to be exempt development unless it falls within one of the other categories of development. A development permit is not necessary for exempt development.

A development permit is not necessary for self-assessable development, however it must comply with any applicable codes.

A compliance permit is required for development prescribed for compliance assessment. This is intended to be a quick application process for purely technical issues.

An application which is assessable development may be subject to either code assessment or impact assessment; impact assessment being the more detailed of the two, and also involving public notification. For assessable development, the assessment manager nominated under the SPR administers and decides development applications, which may be referred to concurrence agencies or advice agencies (known as referral agencies, and also identified by the SPR). The assessment manager assesses the application against the relevant matters, consolidating the responses of the referral agencies, and gives a decision notice for the application.

An application for a development approval or a request for compliance assessment cannot be made for prohibited development.

Service type

Regulatory Obligation

An obligation defined in law. A business must comply with relevant services.

Appeal process


Appeals and enforcement

There are various enforcement mechanisms under the SPA, including:

  • show cause notices
  • enforcement notices
  • enforcement proceedings in the Magistrates Court and
  • enforcement proceedings in the Planning and Environment Court.

An assessing authority may give a show cause notice and subsequently an enforcement notice to a person suspected of committing a development offence. In limited circumstances, an assessing authority can issue an enforcement notice without first issuing a show cause notice. The notice may require a person to stop committing an offence or to remedy the commission of an offence. If a person fails to comply with an enforcement notice fines may apply.

Any person, with some exceptions, may prosecute another person for a development offence in a Magistrates court. The Magistrates Court may make any order it considered appropriate against a defendant including the requirement to take remedial action and/or pay compensation or fines.

Any person may bring a proceeding for an enforcement order, in the Planning and Environment Court, to remedy or restrain the commission of a development offence. An enforcement order may require a person to return anything to a condition as close as practicable to the condition it was in immediately before the development offence occurred.

Enforcement and penalty provisions in other Acts about development offences may apply to development offences under the SPA.

The SPA allows for a range of matters to be brought to either the Planning and Environment Court or a Building and Development Dispute Resolution Committee.

Any person may seek a declaration from the Planning and Environment Court about any matter done, to be done, or that should have been done. Declarations may also be used to settle disputes about the interpretation of the SPA and associated legislation.

A Building and Development Dispute Resolution Committee may also hear appeals of a technical nature which otherwise would not warrant the cost and time involved in an appeal to the Court. Not withstanding, a decision by a Building and Development Dispute Resolution Committee may be appealed to the Planning and Environment Court.

Rights of appeal to the Planning and Environment Court exist for applicants dissatisfied with various matters relating to development approvals, third parties who have objected to development approvals involving impact assessment, and persons who have been given enforcement notices. A person may also appeal to the Planning and Environment Court about decisions on compensation claims, and various other matters. A further appeal, with leave, to the Court of Appeal is available on matters of law.

Administering agency

Department of Infrastructure Local Government and Planning

Contact details

Contact Email, Phone and Address Details for this service in simple two column table format, header then data.


Department of Infrastructure Local Government and Planning

Mailing address: PO Box 15009
City East, Queensland 4002
Phone: 13 QGOV (13 74 68)