Changing your development applications or approval

14 September 2017

Queensland’s new Planning Act 2016, introduced in July this year, does not dramatically change the process that existed under the Sustainable Planning Act (SPA) for changes to development applications and approvals but it has an interesting new addition.

Under the superseded SPA you could only do a “permissible change” (change to development approval), which could not result in a substantially different development outcome.

The new Planning Act has introduced another option called “other change”. This process can result in a substantially different development without the need for a new development application.

The new Act has a “minor change” process that essentially replaces the “permissible change” process that existed under SPA and has largely the same assessment tests and processes.

A “minor change” must not result in “substantially different development”. The key issues the Act considers would not make it a minor change are:

  • the inclusion of prohibited development in the application

  • referral to a referral agency if there were no referral agencies originally

  • referral to extra referral agencies than originally required

  • a referral agency to assess the application against, or have regard to, matters prescribed by regulation under section 55(2), other than matters the referral agency must have assessed the application against, or have had regard to, when the application was made

  • public notification if public notification was not required for the development application.

The new Planning Act has removed the requirement for the assessment manager to consider whether a minor change would cause a person to make a submission to object to the change. As a result of this test being removed, it may be the case that assessment managers push applicants into the “other change” category if the original application received submissions. Schedule 1 of the DA Rules also provides guidance about what constitutes "substantially different development".

As mentioned above, the “other change” is a new process and is for use with change applications that do not meet the “minor change” test. For those people wanting to make large changes to a development approval, the "other changes" process may prove useful.

The Planning Act enables “other changes” to be made without requiring the applicant to resubmit a new development application. The changes are dealt with in a manner similar to a new development application, but likely mean a shortened assessment that only looks at the the aspects being changed.

Councils are to assess the “other change” application as if it were the original development application. This is intended to avoid having the change considered in isolation by asking the assessment manager to review it in the context of the development approval. The Act also notes the intention is not the have the entirety of the development reassessed.

The “other change” process could ultimately result in new or amended conditions for a development. If the original development application was impact assessable, the “other change” process will require public notification.

The process for changes to approvals, both before and after the expiry of your appeal period, will also remain similar to how they were under SPA.

The provisions within the new Act relating to change representations are fairly similar to the superseded ones for a negotiated decision request. However the new Act has introduced a timeframe in which change representations must be decided and a decision issued. A time limit on the consideration of representations carries the risk of appeal periods expiring, which will need to be managed by applicants.  

Whilst the processes have not been entirely revised, there are subtle changes introduced under the new Act that may catch unsuspecting applicants off guard if they have not been through the process recently. The guidance of a qualified town planner is crucial to navigating the planning process. Get in touch today to discuss your project on 1300 017 540 or email