On 26 June 2020, Queensland’s planning framework was modified by the Planning (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020 and Economic Development (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020 so that during the response period (ie. until 31 December 2020), a modified approach to public notification and public access to documents will apply.
Changes to public notification
The new Regulations modifies the public notification requirements which apply to a development application and change application under the Planning Act 2016 and a PDA development application or amendment application under the Economic Development Act 2012 (ED Act) respectively so that:
- a "newspaper circulating generally in the locality of the premises the subject of the application" will now include an online local newspaper for the locality (where no hard copy local newspaper exists) in recognition of many local newspapers ceasing hard copy production; and
- where there is no local newspaper for the locality of the premises, applicants are taken to have complied with the applicable public notification requirements during the response period where a notice is given in one or more of the following ways:
- by publishing the notice in at least once in an a hard copy or an online State or national newspaper;
- by giving the notice to the occupier of each lot in the identified area for the application;
- where applicable, publishing the notice on the website of the assessment manager or responsible entity for the application.
Public access to documents
In recognition of the health and safety restrictions which have been imposed in response to the COVID-19 emergency, modifications have also been made with respect to keeping documents under the Planning Act and registers under the ED Act available for public inspection.
In order to continue to meet their statutory obligations during the response period, a local government and the MEDQ can instead provide a copy of a document directly to a person upon request or schedule an inspection of a register respectively where necessary to:
- protect the health, safety and welfare of persons affected by the COVID-19 emergency; or
- facilitate the continuance of public administration disrupted by the COVID-19 emergency.