Caboolture West CWISP – the solution to Queensland's housing crisis?

Megan Duane
24 Mar 2023
Time to read: 3 minutes

Queensland's new Caboolture West Interim Structure Plan (CWISP) contains bold deliverables for social and affordable housing, along with interim constraints and prohibitions to buy time for infrastructure planning.

Various mechanisms have been advanced over the years by Governments in Queensland to enable the development of significant regional or satellite communities like Forest Lake, Springfield and Robina. Some of these have been via Acts of Parliament, others by agreements, planning scheme changes or combined approaches.

Caboolture West, an area identified as a major expansion area in the SEQ Regional Plan, has been the subject of a unique planning approach in recent times. A key step occurred in 2021, when the Planning Minister made a temporary local planning instrument (TLPI) for the Caboolture West Emerging Community Area, making most development (with some exceptions) impact assessable until detailed land use and infrastructure planning could be undertaken. The TLPI was remade in September 2022 and will expire on 29 March 2023, unless repealed sooner.

On 14 March 2023 the Planning (Caboolture West Interim Structure Plan) Amendment Regulation 2023 took effect, representing the next key milestone in establishing a unique planning framework for an emerging regional city expected to house 70,000 people in the next 40 years.

The Amendment Regulation changes the Planning Regulation 2017, and introduces the Caboolture West Interim Structure Plan (the CWISP),[1] which applies to land identified in the Caboolture West interim structure plan map published on the website of the Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning. Land in the existing precinct known as Neighbourhood Development Plan 1 is not affected by the changes.


  • applies as an assessment benchmark in schedule 10 of the Planning Regulation 2017;
  • divides land into two areas: the Caboolture West Growth Area and the Caboolture West Investigation Area;
  • regulates development in the Growth Area, in conjunction with the Moreton Bay planning scheme, by:
    • ensuring that development does not compromise existing and proposed infrastructure, and facilitates the delivery of future infrastructure (eg. schools, neighbourhood hubs and the newly gazetted Bruce Highway Western Alternative "Moreton Motorway") identified in the CWISP;
    • providing a streamlined pathway for dwellings in the urban living precinct, as the CWISP assessment benchmarks function as an approved neighbourhood development plan, which is a pre-requisite to development in the emerging community zone under the planning scheme; and
    • ensuring that development delivers housing choice and affordability. To do this, development must provide a mix of densities, lot sizes and affordability options for different lifestyle choices, life stages and to meet community needs. The assessment benchmarks in the CWISP set out clear requirements directed at this outcome. More on this below.

Targeted prohibitions buy time for infrastructure planning

The Amendment Regulation prohibits development in the Investigation Area (with some exceptions), effectively preserving the status quo until further infrastructure planning catches up. Once this happens, we anticipate the final structure plan will further shape development at Caboolture West.

Also prohibited is development on a State school site identified in the CWISP, except if that development will ultimately facilitate the school eg. reconfiguring a lot to carve out the school site.

What does this mean for developers? Is it just affordable housing? Or is it more?

For land in the Investigation Area or on one of the identified State school sites, immediate plans for development must be reconsidered, as these are prohibited under the CWISP, noting this is an interim measure.

For land in the Growth Area, it is clear that developers have been given the green light to create around 13,000 dwelling lots as code assessable development in the Urban living precinct, in accordance with the CWISP.

What is also clear is that developers are expected to provide solutions to accommodate social and affordable housing. The CWISP not only requires the provision of a mix of diverse product types and lot sizes, but also requires developers to cater for public housing to be delivered by the State in the future.

A requirement for residential development in the Growth Area is that development deliver an integrated range of public housing and community housing that is affordable for low to moderate income households. One of the suggested examples in the CWISP is for the developer to "Offer Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy (DCHDE) the first right to purchase land for public or community housing."

What is the difference between social housing, public housing and community housing?

The Housing Act 2003 contains the definitions which are important for interpreting the requirements in the CWISP. It provides that:

  • a social housing service is the provision of housing to an individual for residential use, other than crisis accommodation;
  • public housing is a social housing service provided directly by the State; and
  • community housing service is a social housing service that is not public housing.

The CWISP requires developers to consider innovative solutions. Residential development must not only deliver a mix of product that includes smaller and more affordable dwellings, but also must accommodate a range of social housing, whether that is to be delivered by the State or another community housing provider. If development does not meet these requirements, it will be inconsistent with the assessment benchmarks in the CWISP.

[1] We understand this is pronounced "C-WISP", so as not to sound like a British potato chip.

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