Opportunities from South East Queensland’s New Growth Management Plan

SEQ is open for business with the release of its revised draft principal planning document and the delivery of a number of significant infrastructure and commercial projects. South East Queensland (SEQ) is Australia’s third largest capital city region by population and home to approximately 3.4 million people. By 2041, that figure is expected to increase to 5.3 million people. As the economic, social and cultural hub of Queensland, SEQ has been subject to sustained high levels of growth since the early 2000s. Covering 22,900km2, SEQ’s 12 local government areas, which are similar to prefectures or provinces, provide various lifestyle options, diverse economies and healthy natural environments. Collectively, it represents one of Australia’s most desirable and fastest growing regions.

In October 2016, the Queensland Government released its draft revision of the South East Queensland Regional Plan (SEQRP), titled ShapingSEQ. It includes a 25 year statutory plan and a 50 year vision. The purpose of the Plan is to set a framework to assist the management of growth – sensibly and sustainably. The plan aims to promote the attributes that SEQ resident’s value, such as a connected region, affordable housing, protecting the natural environment and its unique lifestyle.


Property investment and development is supported by the fact that SEQ attracts people from around the world due to its climate, liveability, economic opportunities, quality education and affordability. Growth supports SEQ’s prosperity but also raises challenges for the next 50 years. SEQ will experience considerable change over this time, which we are already starting to see with demographic change, economic restructuring and the introduction of new technologies which is enhancing how we live, work and get around.

Climate change, food security, an increasingly multicultural society and globalisation will also influence the future of SEQ. ShapingSEQ has the opportunity to make the most of these influences by supporting positive growth, managing negative impacts and protecting key values through a clear 50-year vision.

The Plan indicates that lifestyle and housing choices will need to capitalise on the SEQ climate and environment, and shape the quality, affordability, design and renewal of its communities and places. A wide range of services, including health and education, will continue to be needed and made readily available to all. The Plan advocates for a smart region, using digital technology and real-time data to improve how communities operate. Each of these needs represent an opportunity for the development community to respond to.

Because of its significance as the principal planning document for the region, it is in the best interest of developers and investors, to review the plan and consider the potential opportunities and impacts arising from it. The Government is calling for submissions and feedback to the draft Plan. MacroPlan is representing a number of clients in relation to submissions to the State Government to promote the inclusion of their potentially developable lands into the urban footprint. This work entails a detailed understanding of the State and local government planning regulations and expertise in economic and socio-demographic analysis, interpretation and forecasting – skills sets that are the core function of MacroPlan.

These land parcels tend to be located in what the Plan refers to as “Potential Future Growth Areas” which are intended to represent areas which could accommodate future urban growth. These are located in what is known as the Regional Landscape and Rural Production Areas to limit development and protect them from further fragmentation that might prejudice their ability to accommodate future urban development.

In total 11 locations have been identified as Potential Growth Areas. For example, in one of the four Sub-Regions identified in the Plan, the Metro- Sub Region areas that have been identified include; South Logan, Caboolture East, Mundoolun and Elimbah.

Potential Growth Areas


Source: Shaping SEQ

The Draft Plan will work under the system established by the new Planning Act 2016. It advances a range of state interests defined in the State Planning Policy by providing a spatial context, defining key outcomes, and establishing planning strategies and directions to achieve these outcomes in response to SEQ’s unique values, drivers, expectations, projections and constraints.

This Plan represents the third in a series of evolving strategic documents. The first regional plan came into effect in 2005 and since then, the pattern of development and growth across the fast growing South East Queensland region has been largely governed by its key land use policy guidance.

SEQ is comprised of 12 local government areas. These include Brisbane (Queensland’s Capital),  Gold Coast, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Logan, Moreton Bay, Noosa, Redland, Scenic Rim, Somerset, Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba. In order to accommodate the additional 1.9 million residents across these 12 local government areas, SEQ will need significantly more housing over the next 25 years.

Housing diversity will need to be delivered whether it is apartments, new homes, retirement villages or student accommodation. The Plan sets a residential supply target which has been proposed of 40% greenfield, 60% infill. Greenfield refers to development which is outside the urban area while infill is that which is within the urban area. This is a change from the 50% / 50%  target set in the 2009 SEQRP and the 60% greenfield and 40% infill target set in the 2005 SEQRP. There are individual targets set for each local government area, and for each sub-region as the following table for the Metro Sub Region shows;

Metro Sub Region

Source: Shaping SEQ

Source: Shaping SEQ

There will be an attempt to provide a 15 year rolling supply of adequately zoned greenfield land that is capable of being serviced by infrastructure. Approximately 8,200 hectares of new greenfield land, and 13,600 hectares of greenfield land included in PDAs (Priority Development Areas) that has ‘become urban’ since 2009 (date of commencement of previous Plan), will be brought into the urban footprint  – a statistical boundary used to measure infill and greenfield development.

While the plan promotes the desirable attributes of the SEQ lifestyle, it also reflects the megatrends influencing change throughout the region and these include;

Increased urbanisation
The world’s population is becoming more urbanised, creating more demand for diverse forms of housing, infrastructure, and services. SEQ is already highly urbanised and is expected to experience significant further growth.

New technology
Extraordinary technological change is transforming how people live, work, communicate and pursue ideas. Such changes include the ‘internet of things’, autonomous and electric vehicles, affordable renewable energy and complete digital connectivity.

Health, ageing and changing preferences
Ageing populations have implications for the size of the workforce, economic growth, government revenue and services such as health care.

Resource dependency
As worldwide demand for natural resources increases, pressure on our diminishing reserves will also continue to increase, this applies to water, agriculture land, mineral and fisheries.

Pressure on biodiversity
Around the world, valuable ecosystems are under pressure from urban expansion, agricultural clearing and the effects of climate change.

Climate change and disaster resilience
Climate change is expected to amplify the frequency and severity of extreme weather events. Through effective and timely planning, the adverse impacts can be limited and climate risk can be better managed.

Global connectedness
The world is becoming more interconnected and the global economic focus is shifting towards Asia. Planning for SEQ can play a fundamental part in unlocking the region’s potential and creating new, globally competitiveness and value-adding industries and business.

In addition to the just draft Plan, the Queensland State Government recently made a key policy announcement that should assist to stimulate property development. Meanwhile a number of major infrastructure projects combined with some favourable economic growth forecasts suggest that Queensland may be entering another developmental stage which should support property investment and development, particularly over the next five years.

Queensland Government’s “Advancing Our Cities and Regions” strategy announced in October is targeted to help to reinvigorate under-utilised government owned land as well as encompassing priority projects. These include land parcels in urban renewal precincts, health and knowledge precincts, housing, renewable energy sites and regional precincts

A number of major infrastructure projects in varying stages of development will also provide a boost to jobs and services provision in SEQ.  Transport projects such as; the Cross-River Rail, construction of the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing, the Gateway Upgrade North project, the Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 2 and heavy rail duplication from Helensvale to Coomera and the proposed mega cruise ship terminal at the mouth of the Brisbane River, will all enhance mobility and reduce congestion and add to the liveability of the South East Queensland Region. In addition to these projects, there is also the Queens Wharf integrated tourism facility, located in the city on the edge of the Brisbane River, which will commence construction in 2018. Combined, these projects represent several billion dollars in major projects and infrastructure spending which will generate thousands of jobs over the next five years.

Projections by Deloitte Access Economics (DAE) for Gross State Product, an aggregate measure of the economic activity, present a positive outlook with annual growth of 4.5% and 4% in 2015-16 and 1016-17 respectively. Queensland has a diverse economic base and DAE refer to Queensland’s  competitive advantages in agribusiness, international education, wealth management, tourism and gas as reason to be confident about the State’s economic prospects over the near to medium term.

Public consultation on the draft plan will run until 3 March 2017. It is expected that the final plan will come into effect in mid-2017. Once submissions have been considered and the final plan is confirmed early in 2017, the provisions of the SEQ Regional Plan will extend to a 2041 horizon.

The Plan incorporates goals, elements and strategies. These are a central part of the ShapingSEQ policy framework that focuses on the next 25 years. Achieving these goals will shape the region to deliver the 50-year vision for SEQ. There are five goals, which align with the five themes: Grow, Prosper, Connect, Sustain and Live. The goals are the strategic outcomes sought to pursue the 50-year vision for SEQ. Each goal is supported by several elements which provide specific outcomes to achieve each goal.  The strategies define actions to achieve these elements and will be largely implemented through local government planning schemes, in addition to other plans and programs. An understanding of how your project can align with these goals, strategies and elements is how MacroPlan can directly assist in making your development a reality.

With the end of 2016 approaching and the holiday season nearly upon us, we strongly recommend that you contact us today about how this plan affects your interests and how we can support you in making a well-researched and properly made submission.

The plan is available at

Contact us:

Mark Courtney, General Manager – QLD on 07 3221 8166 or
Daniel Parker, General Manager – Gold Coast on 07 3221 8166 or

Share this post with your network!
    Comments are closed.