Development Application Process

In Queensland, Development Applications (DAs) are guided by the Planning Act 2016 (the Act) and the Development Assessment Rules (the Rules).

The Act defines:

  • What a development is

  • The types of development

  • The types of applications available. 

It is then up to the relevant council to provide a specific planning scheme, which sets out the zones, assessment levels, and overarching policies applicable to their local area.

 Schedule 2 of the Act defines five development types:

  1. Carrying out building work

  2. Carrying out plumbing or drainage work

  3. Carrying out operational work

  4. Reconfiguring a lot

  5. Making a material change of use of premises.

In most cases, the development categories or assessment level will be dictated by the relevant planning scheme based on the proposed development type and the land use definition (where relevant).

The Development Assessment Rules (DA Rules) sets out the statutory framework, sequence, timeframes and actions required for an assessable development.

An Act, regulation or local or state planning instrument will categorise development under the following 3 categories:

  1. Prohibited development
    Development for which a DA may not be made.

  2. Assessable development
    Development for which a DA is required.

  3. Accepted development
    Development for which a DA is not required. In this category there is two subsets being Accepted Development (ie.exempt) and Accepted Development subject to compliance with identified requirements (formerly self-assessable).

 The categories of development are demonstrated in the following diagram.


For any development application there are 5 main parts in the development assessment process.  These parts and the associated time frames as shown in sequence in the diagram below.

The development assessment process

Development approval process queensland

The development assessment process may not include all parts although Part 1 and Part 5 will apply to all development applications. Whether Parts 2, 3 or 4 applies depends on the circumstances that apply to a particular site or development proposal.  The main parts to the process and the statutory timeframes that apply are explained in more detail as follows:

Part 1 - Application

  • 10 business days for confirmation notice (not always required), otherwise this part ends when the confirmation notice is issued or the confirmation period ends.

Part 2 - Referral

  • 10 business days to give material to referral agency.

  • 5 business days for referral agency to confirm application is properly referred (referral confirmation notice)

  • 25 business days for referral agency assessment period after referral confirmation notice.

Part 3 - Information Request

An Applicant can nominate to not receive an information request although this does not apply for an application for an ERA or for access to a state-controlled road, a variation request (s242 equivalent) and some other circumstances.

  • 10 business days after Part 1 has ended for Council or the referral assessment period commences.

  • 3 months for the applicant response before lapsing.

Part 4 - Public Notification

  • 15 business days is the public notification period in most circumstances

Part 5 - Decision

  • 35 business days for decision to be made (less up to 10 days for any time taken to make an Information Request)

  • 5 business days for the assessment manager to notify applicant of the decision.

You can map your development application and timeframes using this free tool.

What it means

The Queensland planning system can appear complex and confusing to a novice so it’s important to get professional advice to help mitigate the risk of missing something important or misinterpreting information.

Regulations and assessment requirements are constantly changing. As town planning experts, we make it our business to stay informed.

It’s a risky business to assume your development will achieve the same outcome compared to a similar property next door or down the street. Site area, context, service availability, timing, latent conditions, and other constraints, can all affect the development potential of a site.

Town planners provide professional advice ranging from possible site constraints, all the way through to preparing development applications and achieving development approval.

It’s important to engage a planning professional for each unique development proposal. Generic advice is a poor substitute for site-specific guidance when you consider the many diverse issues possible, and potentially detailed regulatory requirements.

Helping you navigate the planning process

Consult Planning are town planning experts, advocating for our clients to ensure appropriate outcomes are realised from development approvals.  Our sought-after negotiation skills and expertise help our clients have the greatest chance of success.