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Planning schemes – Part 1

Now that you’ve got a bit of an understanding of the state legislation, let’s dig deeper into the planning schemes.

What are they? How do we know which planning schemes affect which regions?

What is a planning scheme?

A planning scheme identifies which land uses apply, what types of developments require development approval and the standards that the new development must meet.

All land within Queensland is affected by some sort of planning scheme. The planning scheme will apply to land and buildings that you wish to own, rent and develop, including the land around it. Therefore, this will heavily affect what you can do and what your neighbour can do.

The aim of any local council is to streamline their local planning provisions to help plan for infrastructure to support growth and protect the communities way of life.

Which Planning Scheme affects which region?

Each local council controls its own planning scheme. These are usually made up of one single Planning Scheme that affects the entire local government area (LGA).

Due to council amalgamations, some local council’s will have various planning schemes affecting the same region.

For example, Scenic Rim Regional Council was formed in 2008 which amalgamated several local council’s and their planning schemes, resulting in the LGA being affected by three different planning schemes (Beaudesert, Boonah and Ipswich) – that is until March 2020 when they adopted a new council-wide planning scheme.

Which planning scheme affects the property you’re looking at?

Firstly, you need to find out which local government area the property is located within.

There are many ways you can do this, but we found the best way is a simple Google search. If you type the suburb name, followed by ‘local council’, you should get your answer.

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Now that you know the LGA your property is in, you need to find out which planning scheme affects the property.

Again, you have quite a number of options to find this out. Some sites will be easier than others. As before, I would recommend simply using Google. Type in the local council region, followed by ‘planning scheme’.

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If you have trouble with these methods, another tool you can use is the interactive state government website (for example and scroll down to the mapping. Select your local council region to find out which planning scheme affects it.

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Now, things can occasionally become problematic when an LGA is affected by multiple planning schemes. For example, if you search for a local council’s planning scheme, and find there are two or more documents that could apply.

How do you conclude which one actually affects the property you are looking at?

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. Each LGA will have a range of methods to conclusively determine which planning scheme affects the property you’re dealing with.

The most efficient way to find out is to just give the council customer care a call and see if they can advise. Sometimes this will work, other times they may not be able to provide this information so easily. Not to mention you may not want to be on the phone to the Council every 5 minutes.

The second way to find out is to go onto the local council website and navigate to one of the following:

  1. Log into the local mapping system (example:
  2. Search for your property in question
  3. Somewhere in the results, they may list the name of the Planning Scheme that affects your property
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  1. Find the planning scheme PDF maps and attempt to find the property that you’re looking at.
  2. Try to find the suburb that the property is within and if you can’t find it, try getting Google maps up next to the PDF maps and compare them until you locate the property.

Where an LGA is affected by multiple planning schemes, it can sometimes become quite hard work to find out what one affects the property you’re looking at. Just keep at it and you’ll eventually uncover the most efficient way to get the answer you need.

If you’re dealing mainly with larger South East Queensland based LGA’s, most of them have adopted new planning schemes, so you only need to deal with one document for the entire region.

There are three different ways in which LGAs may digitally present their Planning Schemes to the public.

  1. Interactive e-plans – these are similar to a digital book with bookmark links
  2. A list of downloadable PDF’s – there will likely be a different PDF for each part of the scheme
  3. Some simply have one PDF document for the entire planning scheme

If you’re looking at a smaller regional local council website, they may not have a digital copy at all. In these instances, you will have to give Council a call to discuss further.