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Skip Navigation LinksDepartment of Housing and Public Works > About us > Office of the Queensland Government Architect > Urban Design Trigger (State Code 24)

Urban Design Trigger (State Code 24)

From 3 July 2017, a new urban design trigger in the Planning Regulation 2017 provides the Queensland Government with the ability to influence and advise applicants and local governments on the suitability of a significant project’s design response to ensure it contributes positively to the place and region. Development applications meeting the criteria of the trigger are referred to the State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA) who will seek technical advice from the Office of the Queensland Government Architect (OQGA).

The referral trigger

Schedule 10, part 18 of the Planning Regulation 2017, triggers the assessment of material change of use applications, considered to be significant projects.  Significant projects are determined on the basis of the location, use, zoning and gross floor area (GFA). If triggered, the state is a referral agency for advice only. The 2018/19 assessment fee is $15,525.

Role of the state as advice agency

Development applications meeting the criteria of the trigger are referred to the State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA), who then seeks technical advice from the Office of the Queensland Government Architect (OQGA) before issuing advice to the assessment manager.

The OQGA will review the proposal against the principles outlined in State code 24: Urban design outcomes for significant projects within the The OQGA will review the proposal against the principles outlined in State code 24: Urban design outcomes for significant projects within the The OQGA will review the proposal against the principles outlined in State code 24: Urban design outcomes for significant projects within the State Development Assessment Provisions (SDAP) (PDF, 7MB).

State Development Assessment Provisions - The urban design code

State code 24 - Urban design outcomes for significant projects state code planning guideline (PDF, 539KB) establishes the key principles for achieving high quality urban design outcomes, and provides direction to applicants on how these should be reflected in significant projects. The structure of this code differs to other SDAP codes because the referral is triggered for advice only.

When a development application is referred under the urban design trigger, it is recommended that applicants produce an urban design statement. An urban design statement should include a description of the overarching project vision and design, which demonstrates how the proposal responds to the key urban design principles in the code. The urban design statement will be used by the OQGA and SARA to review and provide advice on urban design matters.

Exemption process

As outlined in figure 1, an application is not triggered for referral if written urban design advice is received prior to lodging the application; and is given to the assessment manager (usually local government) as part of the application material. This exemption is intended to encourage applicants to incorporate best practice urban design principles prior to an application being lodged with the assessment manager.

Written urban design advice can be provided by the OQGA or an urban design review entity established by a local government and stated in a gazette notice. The 2018/19 fee for written urban design advice provided by the OQGA is $2070.

With agreement from the OQGA, the Chief Executive of the Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning may publish a gazette notice enabling a local government-convened urban design review entity to provide written urban design advice instead of the OQGA.

The urban design review entity approval process empowers local governments to facilitate quality urban design outcomes in their local areas.

Local governments can seek the OQGA’s agreement to form an urban design review entity by providing:

  • details of proposed panel membership including urban design expertise, skills and experience
  • the panel’s terms of reference or charter
  • demonstration that arrangements are in place to ensure that the panel’s advice is given appropriate weight by the assessment manager.

Some local governments, including Brisbane City Council, Sunshine Coast Regional Council and Toowoomba Regional Council have already formed urban design review entities or panels. These existing entities will need to obtain agreement from the OQGA and be subject to gazettal in order to provide written urban design advice for the purposes of the exemption from the trigger.

You can contact the OQGA in relation to any of the above matters on 07 345 27288 or email qld.gov.architect@hpw.qld.gov.au

Figure 1: Assessment pathways for significant projects

Assessment pathway 1: No referral to SARA

  1. Design phase: Obtain written urban design advice from Queensland Government Architect (OQGA) or gazetted urban design review entity, subject to payment of relevant fee 
  2. Lodgement: Attach written urban design advice = no referral to SARA required
  3. Assessment: Assessment manager to assess application having regard to written urban design advice
  4. Decision.

Assessment pathway 2: Referral to SARA

  1. Design phase: No written urban design advice obtained
    1. Lodgement
    2. Referral to SARA: Pay applicable referral fee
      1. Assessment by SARA: SARA to assess proposal against SDAP and provide advice to assessment manager
  2. Assessment by assessment manager: Assessment manager to assess application having regard to SATA urban design advice
  3. Decision.


Last updated 03 December 2018    Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)


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