The draft North Queensland Regional Plan

What area does the North Queensland region cover?

The North Queensland region is identified as the local government areas of the Burdekin, Charters Towers, Hinchinbrook, Palm Island and Townsville. 

The region is bordered by the Far North Queensland region to the north, Mackay Isaac Whitsunday region to the south, and the Gulf; North West Queensland and Central West Queensland regions to the west.

What are regional plans and what do they aim to achieve?

In Queensland, regional plans are generally longer term (20-25 years) statutory strategic planning documents that deal with an entire region, rather than just one local government area. Regional planning allows the state and local governments to identify and facilitate opportunities for employment and population changes while enhancing the places and lifestyle residents love about their region.

Can I talk to someone from the Queensland Government about the plan?

Yes. We are visiting a number of community events and locations throughout North Queensland during September and October. We will have trained staff members at engagement booths to speak to community members, answer questions and assist the public with giving feedback.

How does the regional plan support jobs and growing the economy?

By 2041 North Queensland is expected to be home to nearly an additional 90,000 people, requiring 50,000 new dwellings to be built and more than 35,000 new jobs expected to be delivered.

The regional plan is a high level strategic document that identifies key industry growth areas and supports investment in the development of emerging industries, while also supporting the continued growth of the region’s traditional industries such as defence, agriculture, manufacturing and resource industries.

Why does North Queensland need a regional plan?

A regional plan will provide the communities of the North Queensland region with an opportunity to:

  • set a long-term vision for their aspirations on lifestyle improvements and economic growth 
  • capitalise on major strategic investments by planning for how these can continue to be used as advantages into the future 
  • allow local governments and communities to come together to address regional issues specific to North Queensland and develop a framework to respond to challenges and opportunities
  • provide direction for local government in preparing town and city plans
  • inform and direct major planning and infrastructure documents developed by government agencies.

How does the plan address natural hazards following the recent flood event in North Queensland?

The plan will provide a much-needed boost for the region following the flood event by highlighting the potential economic opportunities for the area. The policies in the draft regional plan have been strengthened to promote increased resilience and safety from natural hazards, such as flooding.

How has the draft NQ Regional Plan been developed?

The preparation of the draft NQ Regional Plan has been undertaken in partnership with local government, State and Commonwealth agencies, Traditional Owners, industry and environmental organisations. Engagement has been in the form of a series of working groups, that advise a North Queensland Regional Planning Committee (NQ RPC) which includes local mayors, State members and is chaired by the Planning Minister.

Development of the draft NQ Regional Plan has also been informed by community consultation undertaken at various community events from May to July 2017. 

In addition to consultation, research and data analysis was undertaken to inform the plan’s preparation. Over 100 reports were reviewed and analysed plus additional work was commissioned as required.

What is the structure of the draft NQ Regional Plan?

Stakeholders and the community helped develop a vision for the region to work toward over the next 25 years and beyond:

North Queensland thrives as a diverse, liveable and innovative tropical region, set aroundthe emerging capital of northern Australia.

For this vision to be realised, the plan identifies four regional goals – broadly based on economic, environmental, urban form and infrastructure priorities. Under each goal, there are regional outcomes to achieve the goal and regional policies to deliver on these outcomes. 

The draft NQ Regional Plan includes implementation actions and ‘measures that matter’ to deliver the outcomes and monitor the implementation of the plan.

How does a regional plan relate to local planning decisions?

The QueenslandGovernment recognises that local government is generally best placed to undertake local planning. 

Regionalplans address and resolve competing state interests at the regional scale to help inform the development of local planning schemes. Regional plans will inform local planning decisions where guidance on competing interests is required prior to local planning schemes adopting policies and outcomes in the regional plan.

How is the role of Traditional Owners acknowledged in the North Queensland Regional Plan?

The draft NQ Regional Plan has been prepared following consultation with Traditional Owners. The plan seeks to identify, protect and manage the region’s unique Indigenous cultural heritage, including places, and landscapes of cultural significance. The role of Traditional Owners and Indigenous communities in planning decisions is strengthened to capitalise on the breadth of local knowledge and manage the region’s unique Indigenous cultural heritage. Economic growth and tourism opportunities linked to the region’s Indigenous and cultural heritage are supported by the plan.

What is the State Planning Policy?

The State Planning Policy (SPP) outlines the Queensland Government’s interest in planning and development. The SPP includes guiding principles and 17 state interests thatunderpin the preparation of regional plans and local planning schemes. The SPP gives each state interest equal weight (i.e. it does not prioritise one interest over another). The draft NQ Regional Plan provides regional context for the state interests and priorities the state interests where conflicts occur to assist the region to achieve the vision, goals and outcomes identified in the draft NQ Regional Plan.

Will the regional plan directly affect what I can do on my property?

It is unlikely that the regional plan will directly affect individual properties. 

The outcomes contained in the NQ Regional Plan will generally be achieved through directing future changes to local government planning schemes. Changes affecting individual properties are not likely to occur until a local government updates its planning scheme; a process that involves formal consultation and allows landowners to make representations about any changes proposed. 

However, there may be some instances whereby the regional plan could relate to individual properties. 

For example:

  • Where planning schemes are yet to be updated, local governments may identify that proposed development or subdivisions is inconsistent with specific policies in the regional plan. In such instances, the policies in the regional plan will prevail over those in the existing local government planning scheme. 
  • The draft NQ Regional Plan strengthens existing protections for significant agricultural areas and directs that development not linked to agricultural production (e.g. commercial solar farms, residential subdivisions) be avoided. 
  • In existing urban areas and townships, the draft NQ Regional Plan directs that development consolidate these areas where possible rather than continue to grow outwards in areas not already intended to cater for future growth.
  • Properties in rural areas affected by a Strategic Environmental Area (SEA) may be affected by policies in the regional plan. In these areas, development with large impacts on the landscape (such as resource activities including mining, broadacre cropping or certain types of dams) will need to be assessed to determine whether the proposal can appropriately co-exist with environmental attributes in the area. 

How does the regional plan support infrastructure?

The draft NQ Regional Plan does not include specific infrastructure projects or funding commitments. Instead, the regional plan identifies region-shaping infrastructure priorities and opportunities to inform the State Infrastructure Plan (SIP) needs for the North Queensland region. The SIP seeks to then reconcile the priorities for all areas of Queensland, and is updated on an annual basis. 

The draft NQ Regional Plan establishes the economic, demographic and/or social demand for specific future infrastructure needs to best enable forward planning and efficiencies. The stronger the argument a regional plan can demonstrate for need, the greater the impetus for provision of the infrastructure.

Beyond immediate infrastructure needs, the regional plan also seeks to establish an on-going framework for how future regional infrastructure priorities should be identified and be strategically positioned for inclusion in future updates to the SIP and/or other potential funding streams.

Creating the North Queensland Regional Plan

What is a regional plan?

A regional plan is a long-term (25 to 50 years) strategic, statutory planning document that deals with an entire region, rather than just one local area.

Regional planning allows the Queensland Government to grasp opportunities for growth while preserving the things residents love about their communities. 

How will the regional plan address Townsville’s water security issue?

While the draft regional plan is expected to acknowledge the need to address the issue of water supply security, we want to avoid duplicating work already being carried out by the Queensland Government and other government agencies.

As a key commitment under the Townsville City Deal (signed in December 2016 by the Prime Minister, Premier and Townsville Mayor), an intergovernmental Townsville Water Security Taskforce was appointed by the Australian and Queensland Governments and Townsville City Council on 10 March 2017 to investigate short, medium and long-term solutions to water security for Townsville, considering investment in water supply infrastructure and management of demand.  The Taskforce members are:

-  Independent Chair - Brad Webb, a local highly respected and successful businessman in the Townsville community;

-  Ms Adele Young, CEO, Townsville City Council

-  Mr Paul Simshauser, Director-General, Queensland Department of Energy and Water Supply

-  Mr Adam Sincock, Director, Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

The Townsville Water Security Taskforce website: provides further information about its members, role, key deliverables and milestones, progress updates and community engagement.

Why does North Queensland need a regional plan?

A regional plan provides North Queensland with an opportunity to capitalise on major strategic investments such as the Townsville City Deal and other related projects. It also provides an opportunity for the community to set a vision for their own aspirations for lifestyle and economic growth.

The regional plan allowlocal governmentand communities to address region-specific issues and develop a framework to respond to challenges and opportunities.

How does a regional plan relate to local planning laws?

The Queensland Government recognises that local government is best placed to undertake local planning. Consequently, the plan will play a focused role in addressing and resolving competing state interests on a regional scale.

The North Queensland Regional Plan will exist alongside and underpin the town and city plans developed by local government, along with other major planning documents developed by other agencies.

How does the regional plan relate to other planning exercises including the State Infrastructure Plan (SIP)?

The regional plan identifies the region-shaping infrastructure priorities and other infrastructure opportunities to service existing development and support growth in the region. These infrastructure needs and priorities will inform future iterations of the SIP

How is a regional plan developed and by who?

The Queensland Government is committed to developing regional plans in collaboration with relevant councils and the community. An extensive engagement program has been developed to encourage people to have their say about what they see as key opportunities for the region. 

The Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning is charged with leading the process of developing the North Queensland Regional Plan. It is supported by a number of specialist working groups representing local government, planning agencies, industry and community organisations. 

Most importantly, the people of North Queensland need to have input into the regional plan with their aspirations for future lifestyle and economic growth.

How far ahead does the regional plan look?

The regional plan looks forward 25 years to 2041 (the planning process was commenced in 2016).

What area does the North Queensland Regional Plan cover?

The North Queensland region covers the local government areas of Burdekin, Charters Towers, Hinchinbrook, Palm Island and Townsville.

What opportunities will there be for the community be become involved in the planning process?

The North Queensland community will have two opportunities to have a say on planning for our future.

Round one – Community engagement

We are planning to establish engagement booths at a string of community events, from markets to local shows, where community members can get involved with the discussion.

You can find our locations here. 

Community input may be provided directly online, or with the help of our team. All input will be considered in the regional planning process.

How long is the consultation going to run?

Two different rounds of public consultation will occur.

Round one will occur from 20 May 2017 and run for seven weeks until 9 July 2017.

Round two will run for a total of 60 business days, between August and November 2017. This round will focus on opportunities to comment on draft North Queensland Regional Plan.

What will happen to the input from the community during consultation?

Input is received from community members during round one will be collated and provided to those framing the draft North Queensland Regional Plan.

Submissions on the draft North Queensland Regional Plan provided by community members during round two will become a formal part of the planning process and will be considered during the review process of the draft as it progresses to an adopted Queensland Government document.

Will I get a response to my submission or comment?

Due to the high volumes of correspondence received during the consultation periods, we are unable to respond in writing to individual enquiries. However, the department encourages you to forward your thoughts on planning for North Queensland’s future and comments on the draft regional plan for consideration during the two consultation periods.

Can I talk to someone directly about the plan?

Yes. We are visiting a number of community events and locations throughout North Queensland in two rounds – from May to July, and again from August to November. We will have trained staff members at engagement booths to speak to community members, answer questions and assist the public with giving feedback.

Who is being consulted?

Regional community

The Queensland Government hopes that every North Queenslander will get involved and have their say. Two rounds of broad engagement will occur across the region to provide all possible opportunities for involvement. 

Local Mayors and elected representatives

The five Mayors and elected representatives are part of Regional Planning Committee, which directly advises the Minister for planning on regional issues. 

Local governments

The five local governments in the region are involved through membership on a LocalGovernment Working Group. The group comprisesenior level representatives of each local government across the region and meets regularly throughout the process. 

Industry, community and environment 

A formal consultation group plays an important role in the identification and balancing of regional issues and potential outcomes for the regional plan’s preparation. 

Government agencies

State and Commonwealth government agencies are involved in the regional plan preparation process, with both officer and executive level contribution. 

Indigenous community

Indigenous North Queenslanders all across the region are encouraged to get involved. The department has established a specific Traditional Owners Working Group seeking direct input from these groups into the North Queensland Regional Plan. As with all regional communities, the engagement team is planning to visit the community of Palm Island at least twice during the first round of consultation and again later in the project.

Rural communities

Recognising the size of the region, the Queensland Government has worked with local consultants to identify events in major centres which will draw in rural and remote North Queenslanders to give them an opportunity to be involved in face-to-face consultation.