Toowoomba Regional Council held its first Planning and Development Industry Update event last week in a bid to more closely engage with the local sector.
Council Planning and Development Committee Portfolio Lead, Councillor Bill Cahill said the event was a great way to bring key stakeholders together.
“This is an opportunity for Council to speak about the way we are working with the community and to hear any concerns from the planning industry,” he said.
“There was a great turnout, and it was valuable having representatives from State Government departments as well as Councillors and Council officers in one room, to see how we can all work collectively to get the best results possible for our community,” he said.
“At this first event our General Manager for Planning and Development Dr Nikola Stepanov presented the major changes to the TRC Planning and Development Group, including the introduction of a ‘Special Projects team and a ‘Development Concierge’ to assist in facilitating development in the Region.
“Dr Stepanov also acknowledged the challenges the Group has faced and presented the steps being implemented to improve the Group’s service standard.”
Council Planning and Development Committee Chair, Councillor Megan O’Sullivan Hara said the meeting was a good opportunity for the planning industry to meet key contacts within Council and to better understand how we can work together.
“The broader industry expressed positive feedback regarding the visible culture change occurring within the Planning and Development Group which is pleasing to hear,” she said.
“We’re in the process of developing a new Planning Scheme for the Toowoomba Region and to make sure we get it right, we welcome feedback.
“At the forum, we heard about the desire for improved transparency and impartiality in the planning process as well as the broader decision-making framework.
“It was also expressed how the current ‘points based’ pre-lodgement process is unsuitable which is an area we will investigate further when our new Manager for Planning comes on board.
“At the meeting we also spoke about opportunities for infill development and the expectations from the draft SEQ Regional Plan to delivering greater density.
“There was lively discussion supporting opportunities for the delivery of greater diversity in housing stock, with acknowledgement that the formula to meet end user needs requires more work from both Council and the industry.
“As an interim measure, Council will look at whether a practice note would be a suitable solution to assist with interpretation and guidance regarding the medium density residential code within the current planning scheme,” she said.
The next Planning and Development Industry Update will be held in three months.