5 things you should know about the Development Assessment process

If this is your first time going through the development assessment process then you probably have a few questions and concerns. The process is not one that many Queenslander’s need to know much about and it is generally left to the property and development industry to guide you through.

Whilst at Urban Planners Queensland we can take you from initial site investigations through to development approval we are big on transparency and education. We don’t expect you to become a development compliance specialist but it makes the assessment a whole lot more enjoyable when you know what is happening!

  1. Don’t expect every project to run the same course. Plenty of people approach us with friend of a friend horror stories of 2 year assessments or seemingly magical development approvals given in a week. The truth is, there are a number of variables with no 2 project sites, clients, Council assessment managers or consultants being the same. Patience with a strong dose of pro-activeness is important to ensure your project/s run as smoothly as possible.
  2. Queensland planning schemes are performance based. Whilst some planning officers expect cookie cutter results, this is at times not practical or even viable for certain projects. It is important that you understand there are opportunities to negotiate Council concerns through the development assessment process and you may not need to completely change your design. Sometimes you have to have a respectful discussion with the assessing team to get things moving in the right way.
  3. A lot of those crazy development approvals you see and wonder “but how did they get approval?” are more often than not, Court approvals. The Planning and Environment Court is a useful tool when you need to bypass the politics of Local Government, however there is an expense and the risks must be weighed against your desired project outcomes. If you want to create a project that is out-of-the-box the P&E Court may be your only option.
  4. Precedence probably isn’t what you think it is. Maybe you saw a development down the road, in a different suburb, built 10 years ago that you want to re-create on your site? Precedence is only a strong planning justification if it was approved under current legislation which has changed frequently over the past decade or is directly adjoining your site.
  5. Town planning legislation and planning schemes are extremely important for ensuring the ongoing sustainable development of communities. Whilst you may not always agree with the local laws and design requirements, a healthy respect for the process and system will ensure you limit your frustrations. Upfront specialist town planning advice is recommended where you want to achieve a smooth and timely development approval.



This post was written on 12 January 2022 by managing director of Urban Planners Queensland, Jessica Reynolds.