Fact Sheets and Educational Material

What is a Planning Scheme?

A Planning Scheme is an instrument made by a local government that manages development by identifying:

  • Zones and preferred development within Zones to avoid land use conflicts;
  • Overlays to manage environmental constraints specific to the development site; and
  • Development Codes to govern construction, operation and design elements of development.

Types of development

Development managed by a planning scheme is generally limited to the following types of development: 

  • "Material Change of Use". Generally including:
    • the start of a new use of the premises;
    • the re-establishment on the premises of a use that has been abandoned; or
    • a material increase in the intensity or scale of the use of premises.
  •  "Reconfiguring a Lot". Generally including:
    • creating lots by subdividing another lot;
    • rearranging the boundaries of a lot; and
    • creating an easement giving access to a lot from a constructed road.
  • "Operational Works". Generally including:
    • excavating or filling;
    • undertaking works on public water supply or sewerage infrastructure;
    • placing an advertising device on premises; and 
    • undertaking roadworks on a local government road.

Click on the links to visits corresponding fact sheets that provide 'how to' guides.

  • What is a development application?

    A Development Application is commonly referred to as a DA. In order to carry out certain types of developments, a development permit may be required. You can apply for a development permit by submitting a development application to Council. A development application provides information to Council as the “assessment manager” about the proposed development, to enable us to assess the application against the requirements of the Whitsunday Regional Council Planning Scheme 2017 and some State Government planning requirements.

    Is it necessary to discuss an application with a Council officer prior to lodging a development application?

    It is highly recommended that you engage with our planning officers at the pre-lodgement stage to ensure that you are aware of the relevant Whitsunday Regional Council Planning Scheme 2017 provisions that are applicable to your development, and information you need to include in your application. We offer free pre-lodgement advice to all applicants.

    What is the difference between a code and impact assessable development application?

    A code assessable application requires assessment against the relevant Whitsunday Regional Council Planning Scheme 2017 codes and is generally submitted for a use that is consistent with the zone in which the property is located. An impact assessable application requires assessment against the relevant Whitsunday Regional Council Planning Scheme 2017 matters and is generally for a use that has a greater potential to have impacts on the surrounding area. Impact assessable applications also require public notification to be undertaken.

    What is an Assessment Category?

    A Planning Scheme manages development by identifying categories of assessment and applicable development codes within Part 5 - Tables of Assessment. The four assessment categories include:

    Accepted development Development is exempt not requiring assessment against any codes or a development application. 
    Accepted, if complying with the acceptable benchmarks of applicable Codes The person undertaking the development must complete a self-assessment for compliance with acceptable assessment benchmarks of applicable codes. If compliant, no development application is required; however, building approvals may be required. If non-compliant, development jumps up to code assessment. 
    Code Assessment A development application addressing applicable codes is to be assessed by the local government.
    Impact Assessment A development application addressing applicable codes is to be assessed by the local government and public notification of the proposal is required.

    See Development Assessment page for more information.

    State Interactive Mapping is a tool that aids in the identification of State Planning Interests that may require referral to State agencies during the development assessment process.

    What is a Zone?

    Zones are utilized as a method to control the preferred uses within particular Zones and avoid conflicts between sensitive uses and less sensitive uses. Part 5.5 Categories of Assessment - Material Change of Use specify what category of assessment each use is within each zone and applicable codes for assessment. See Zone Card fact sheets for more information.

    What is an Overlay?

    Overlay maps identify the location and triggers for further assessment of constraints specific to the development site including, but not limited to, flood, coastal, bushfire and landslide hazards. Where a development site is located within an overlay, Part 5.10 of the Planning Scheme specifies the Category of Assessment and applicable Overlay Code that development must address. Overlay Codes are within Part 8 of the Planning Scheme and outline requirements to guide assessment (i.e. geotechnical report for landslide hazard) and required design or engineering outcomes to mitigate the constraint.

    What is a Development Code?

    Development Codes specify assessment benchmarks that development must comply with to ensure construction, operation and design of a development is controlled in a manner that avoids adverse social, aesthetic and environmental impacts.

    What is a Local Plan?

    Local Plans are developed to protect and enhance unique characteristics of a local area and are required when overarching Zone and Development Codes for the region are not specific enough to protect the unique economic, amenity and environmental characteristics of an area.

    What is trunk infrastructure?

    Trunk infrastructure includes the primary infrastructure networks, including Water, Sewer, Stormwater, Transport and Parks and Land for Community Facilities. The maps in Schedule 3 of the Planning Scheme identify existing and future trunk infrastructure for each network.

    How does it all come together?

    Planning is a matter of balancing interests and conflicts in a manner that is mindful of economic, environmental and social aspects of an urban system. The balance is achieved through Categories of Assessment that facilitate preferred and unfavourable types of development. Categories of Assessment identify uses accepted within each Zone, minimum lot sizes for subdivisions and applicable Development Codes that control various aspects of a development to ensure harmonious balance is maintained within the system. Overlays are an additional form of assessment utilized to ensure site specific constraints are managed by the applicant.

    The development application process combines this information for our planners to make a merit-based assessment and ultimately decide whether or not a development contributes to a balanced urban system.

    What are Infrastructure Charges?

    Infrastructure Charges are issued when a development increases demand on the trunk infrastructure networks. Infrastructure Charges must be used by Council to build new trunk infrastructure or to improve the capacity of the existing trunk infrastructure networks. The maximum Infrastructure Charges for each land use are set out in the Planning Regulation 2017.

  • How do I find the zoning and overlays affecting my property?

    We provide a free online mapping tool which allows users to view property and land information, property zones and planning scheme overlays, and emergency evacuation mapping information. Using the search function, you can enter the postal address or lot and plan number to identify the zoning and overlays affecting your property.

    How do I find out what can be developed within a particular zone?

    You can use the Whitsunday Regional Council Planning Scheme 2017 to determine what can be developed in a particular zone. Referring to the applicable zone code, the types of uses which the zone is to provide for are nominated. Part 5 – Tables of Assessment nominates the relevant categories of assessment (accepted, code or impact assessable) for these uses.

    How do I find out what development approvals exist on my property?

    You can search development approvals using our free Development Application Tracking (DA Tracking) service. Using the search function, you can enter the postal address or lot and plan number to show current and former town planning applications that have been lodged over a particular property, dating back to 1 January 2015. For more detailed information there are a range of plumbing, building and town planning searches you can request through Council.

    Will I need to notify my neighbours when I lodge a development application?

    If your application is impact assessable, you will be required to undertake public notification during the application process. The public notification process includes notifying the adjoining owners. Additional requirements also include placing a sign on all road frontages and placing an ad in the locally circulating newspaper (this includes online newspapers).

    Who can make a submission about a development application?

    Anyone can make a submission to Council regarding a development application that is undergoing public notification.

    How do I find out about development applications in my neighbourhood?

    Our free Development Application Tracking (DA Tracking) service enables users to view applications lodged and decided by Council going back one month.

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