Urban planner professional development

Local and State Planning Instruments (Queensland)

What are planning instruments?

A planning instrument is an instrument that sets out policies for planning or development assessment, and is either-

  • A state planning instrument; or
  • A local planning instrument

State Planning

State planning instruments are made by the minister to protect or give effect to State interests and are either a State planning policy or a regional plan.

Local Planning

Local planning instruments are made by the local government and are either a planning scheme, a temporary local planning instrument (TLIP) or a planning scheme policy.

Let’s go a bit deeper into these.


The PA (Planning Act) describes the planning instruments (both state and local) and how they relate to each other (e.g. how the planning schemes operate within the state framework). It also covers superseded planning schemes and infrastructure designations.

There are two key ‘state planning instruments’.

  • The State Planning Policy (SPP)
  • Regional Plans

The SPP is the highest order codes applicable to town planning circumstances throughout the Queensland (QLD) region, but Local Governments can also incorporate the SPPs into their own Planning Scheme or declare where they aren’t applicable to their particular LGA (Local Government Area) whereby voiding the need for the SPP. For example, the Brisbane City Council has incorporated a ‘Coastal Hazard overlay code’ into their local planning scheme. This means that the SPP for Coastal Hazards is irrelevant.

Most LGAs under the PA will note which SPPs have been incorporated into their Planning Scheme under Part 2 (State planning provisions section of the planning scheme).


The PA also describes how local planning instruments are written, changed and how they relate to other instruments.

The local planning instruments include:

  • Planning Schemes
  • Temporary Local Planning Instruments
  • Planning Scheme Policies

The PA provides Local Council with a set of principals and a standard default process to write a Planning Scheme. This provides some level of consistency for how planning schemes are written and interpreted throughout Queensland.

The Planning Scheme is written by Local Council’s and reviewed by State Government. It forms part of the essential policy and provisions to guide, and control development, and growth within their Local Government Area. For example, ‘Zones’, ‘Overlays’, how high you can build, what land uses are appropriate, etc.


The PA also allows provision for Temporary Local Planning Instruments (TLPI). This is a temporary instrument that is valid for up to 2 years and is an interim response that can be put in place quickly to set out planning and development assessment policies that protect all or part of their Local Government Area from adverse impacts in urgent or emergent circumstances.

For example, after the January 2011 floods, Brisbane City Council enacted a TLPI to increase the height of the adopted flood regulation line. This ensures new development have an increased level of flood resilience in response to the higher flood levels than were previously mapped.


A Planning Scheme Policy (PSP) is a document included within the Planning Scheme that provides information that may be required, or requested, to accompany a Development Application (DA). This includes standards, guidance and/or advice on how to satisfy the codes within the planning scheme. For example, a code may simply request that a car parking bay is in accordance with the PSP, and all information relating to the design requirements are written in the PSP document (usually a schedule attached to the planning scheme).

Learn more about the development assessment system in Queensland in our full-length online course: https://learn.urpec.com.au/courses/online-2/

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