From Purchase to Project: Navigating Land Acquisition & Zoning

Delve into the legal intricacies of land acquisition and zoning in Brisbane. Make informed decisions from purchase to project.

By John Christian – November 13, 2023
land acquisition - Victor Legal

Developing land can be an exciting process! But it can also be a complicated process. From zoning regulations to development applications, land development can require you to understand complex regulations and jump through regulatory hoops.

In this article, our experienced construction lawyers will help you understand some of the intricacies of zoning and land acquisition in Brisbane so you’re in an excellent position to make informed decisions from purchase to project.

In this article:

Developing property in Queensland

There are a lot of factors that can influence the acquisition and development of a site. You’ll need to consider applicable regulations, site specific information like location, size and price, as well as its zoning classification.

Applicable regulations

There are various regulations that you will need to comply with throughout the development process. And their applicability will depend on your specific situation. However, here are some of the regulations you will need likely need to comply with:

  • Planning Act 2016
    The Planning Act 2016 (the Planning Act) provides the framework for Queensland’s property planning system. It has three main elements:
    • Plan-making which guides land use planning for future developments.
    • Development assessment which is the system that dictates if and how development can occur.
    • Dispute resolution which allows people to appeal a decision to the Development Tribunals or the Planning and Environment Court.
  • Planning Regulation 2017
    Planning Regulation 2017 supports the Planning Act by giving us practical insight into how it operates. It covers how developments are categorised, who assesses development applications and even prescribes the related fees and charges, among other things.
  • Planning and Environment Court Act 2016
    The Planning and Environment Court Act 2016 sets out the powers of the Planning and Environment court. This is the court where development assessment decisions can be appealed. This is also the court where you’ll go if you need to seek a resolution to a dispute.
  • Brisbane City Plan 2014 (City Plan)
    The Brisbane City Plan 2014 (the City Plan) has been developed by Brisbane City Council in consultation with the community. It paves the way for a clear and efficient development assessment process.
    The City Plan sets out how land in Brisbane can be used and developed to ensure that the city thrives and grows, while also protecting its character. It will guide you on things like whether you can subdivide your land for your development project.
  • Queensland Development Code
    The Queensland Development Code consolidates Queensland-specific building standards into a single document. It covers Queensland matters outside the scope of the Building Code of Australia. Your development must meet all requirements of the relevant building laws and codes.

What is property zoning?

In Queensland various plots of land are classified into different zones – for example, residential, commercial or mixed use. The goal of these zones is to preserve the area’s character and environment, and protect residential areas, while also allowing and supporting growth of the region. Property zoning refers to the local council’s guidelines that set out how land in the area can be used and developed.

The Planning Act oversees property zoning in Queensland and dictates how you – as a Brisbane property developer – will be able to use the land.

Property zone categories

Each zoning category has different rules. Some of these are:

  • Residential zones: residential zones are set aside for residential properties, and will be regulated based on the density of the development, and the character of the area.
  • Industry zones: these are areas created for industrial businesses such as warehousing and manufacturing. The zoning rules will also set out the requirements around noise, pollution and impact, and will consider the opportunities for employment.
  • Tourism zones: these are areas set aside for tourism activities, facilities and places and could include things like amusement parks, restaurants and entertainment.
  • Centre zones: these are neighbourhood, local or city centres areas that are designed to be used for retail and services that support the surrounding community.
  • Mixed use zones: this identifies land that is suitable for a wide range of uses, and could be used for commercial, residential, tourism and community developments.

Acquiring property in Queensland

In Queensland, if you want to develop property you’ll first need to acquire the land. And there’s a lot of work that goes into this process. First you’ll have to find a suitable property in terms of meeting your needs for your project. Then you’ll need to look at all the applicable regulations and zoning rules to ensure your project is going to work. An expert construction lawyer can help you with this process.

Once you’ve determined that the property works for your project, you’ll want to take some additional steps before acquiring the property. These include:

  • Do your due diligence. This ensures the property is sound and has no issues (for example, contaminated soil).
  • Run searches. You’ll want to run searches for things like unregistered easements and to confirm the site isn’t bound by any building covenants.
  • Prepare your development application. This is part of your formal assessment process for getting your development approval.

How a construction lawyer can help

Construction lawyers are well versed on the intricacies of developing property and conveyancing. They will be able to support and guide you through the process, from buying a property and the construction stage, as well as any dispute resolution that may be necessary and potentially even selling your completed development.

Victor Legal are expert construction lawyers with an excellent understanding of Brisbane zoning and planning regulations. Our team will help assist you through this process, and give your project the best chance of getting the green light from day one.

Article by John Christian, Principal Lawyer, Founder and Director of Victor Legal

John has extensive experience in complex civil and commercial dispute resolution and litigation matters, specialising in:

Building and construction disputes
Complex litigation
Contract drafting and review
Dispute Resolution
Commercial Law
Corporate insolvency
Securities and caveats
Debt collection
Contract disputes
Commercial and risk mitigation advice

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