Toowoomba Council Advances E-Protection with Scheme

Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) continues to look for opportunities to provide stronger environmental protection as part of the new Planning Scheme being drafted.

TRC Planning and Development Committee Chair Cr Megan O’Hara Sullivan said Council held comprehensive information sessions in January to look at what learnings could be obtained from existing measures in place at other local governments throughout Australia.

“We’ve been listening to our community and understand the need to address a number of concerns through a new Toowoomba Region Planning Scheme,” she said.

“When we last put a Planning Scheme together in 2012, this followed the amalgamation of eight Councils into one and we had the challenging task of making one uniform document for the newly-formed Region.

“The Council in place at the time took the position that vegetation protection controls administered by the State Government were sufficient to achieve this policy.

“Since then, our Region has been through a number of significant changes and the views of our residents have also changed and as such, it’s important the new Planning Scheme reflects this.

“There have been calls by members of the community to immediately enact regulations preventing further loss of vegetation. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix solution for this matter and before any action can be taken, Council must review its current environmental policy and how it wants any new policy to be implemented.

“While we’d like to implement short-term protection for significant vegetation immediately, in the long-term, the best way to make substantial change is through a new Planning Scheme.

“While we’re developing the Planning Scheme we will continue to look at what interim options are available to Council.”

In conjunction with this work, Cr Bill Cahill said Council was working on a new Growth Plan which will provide an environmental sustainable view for where future growth could be directed and ensure new growth areas are limited or do not occur in those areas with high environment values.

“The Growth Plan will be reviewed by Councillors in the coming months and gives us a chance to provide a framework for sustainable future development to make sure our Region remains a unique place to work, live, play and stay,” he said.

“The Growth Plan will map out how we can accommodate growth and help us identify the required infrastructure.

“We understand the need for growth and further housing, but we don’t want to sacrifice our choice of lifestyle through expansion so we need to get the balance right.

“Once the Growth Plan has been approved, Council will again be seeking further feedback from our community for the Planning Scheme.

“Consultation with our residents is crucial to ensure the Planning Scheme continues to respond appropriately to community expectations.”

The next steps for progressing the Planning Scheme are as follows:

  • Continue to investigate interim options for stronger environmental protection
  • Council to review the draft Planning Scheme in early 2024
  • The draft Planning Scheme is then submitted to the State Government for review and for Minister approval to proceed to the public notice stage
  • Through the Public Notice stage residents will be able to provide further feedback in mid-2024.

/Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).View in full here.