This factsheet provides an overview of the effect of declaring Provisional Priority Development Areas (Provisional PDAs) and Priority Development Areas (PDAs). 

This Factsheet is for general information purposes only, it is not legal advice. Important legal details have been omitted to provide a brief overview of this area of the law. If you require legal advice relating to your particular circumstances contact EDO or your solicitor. © EDO (Qld) Current as at August 2014 

Key points

  • Provisional PDAs and PDAs are methods for fast-tracking and concentrating development, through which existing local planning frameworks and by-laws may be suspended in the interest of economic development.
  • While the Economic Development Act 2012 (Qld) requires public notification of certain development projects in Provisional PDAs and PDAs, the appeal rights of submitters that were available under the standard state planning framework (Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (Qld)) have been removed.


  1. The Economic Development Act 2012 (Qld)
  2. Provisional PDAs and PDAs
  3. Public consultation and appeal rights
  4. Example PDA: Toondah Harbour, Cleveland, Qld
  5. Useful contacts and further information

1.  The Economic Development Act 2012 (Qld)

In late 2012 the Queensland Government passed the Economic Development Act 2012 (ED Act), which introduced a suite of legislative amendments to Queensland’s planning and development statutes, as well as establishing the Economic Development Queensland (EDQ) – a government agency tasked with facilitating and managing economic development in declared areas. 

The ED Act repealed the Urban Land Development Authority Act 2007 (Qld), however, it reapplies a number of key provisions with the purpose of facilitating economic development and development for community purposes. In practice, the EDQ has assumed the role of the former Urban Land Development Authority (ULDA). The EDQ has the ability to declare and manage Provisional Priority Development Areas (Provisional PDAs) and Priority Development Areas (PDAs) just as the former ULDA declared and managed Urban Development Areas (UDAs). Under the ED Act, former UDAs will transition into PDAs and may be subject to amendment in order to reflect the ED Act’s interest in economic development. To this end, all assets and liabilities of the former ULDA become assets and liabilities of the EDQ. That is to say that any infrastructure arrangements, contracts, leases, undertakings or other arrangements to which the ULDA was a party, is now a responsibility of the EDQ and may be enforced against or by the EDQ.

2.  Provisional PDAs and PDAs

In delivering the objectives of the ED Act, the EDQ is tasked with providing a streamlined planning and development framework for particular parts of the Queensland — namely the declaration and management of Provisional PDAs and PDAs. Once an area receives Provisional PDA or PDA designation, development within the area is assessed under the expedited ED Act system, as opposed to the State’s standard process prescribed by the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (Qld) (SPA).

It is also important to note that a number of distinctions between Provisional PDAs and PDAs exist. Provisional PDAs serve as a mechanism to expedite development projects to the market, where it is consistent with community expectations. Provisional PDAs may only be declared where:

  • The area is a discrete site proposed to be used for a discrete purpose;
  • The type, scale, intensity and location of the proposed development is consistent with the relevant local government’s planning scheme for the area;
  • There is an overriding economic and community need to start the proposed development.

Any declaration of a Provisional PDA must make a provisional land use plan regulating development in the area.

The provisional land use plan must be consistent with the relevant local government’s planning scheme for the area and it must require public notice of each PDA development application concerning reconfiguring a lot or making a material change of use of premises in the area.

In contrast, PDAs are not required to demonstrate consistency with the local government’s planning scheme. Nor are PDAs required to be discrete (in location or purpose). In declaring a PDA, the EDQ must administer an interim land use plan for the regulation of development, which will eventually be superseded by a permanent development scheme for the PDA.

Declaration of Provisional PDAs and PDAs

Provisional PDAs and PDAs are declared by the Minister for Economic Development Queensland (MEDQ) after consultation with local government. In declaring a Provisional PDA or PDA, the MEDQ must have regard to:

  • The purpose of the ED Act;
  • Any proposed development for land in the area;
  • The economic and community benefits that may arise by the proposed development;
  • The impact the SPAmay have on the delivery of the proposed development if it were to apply to development in the area.1

Consequences of a declaration

  • Subsequent to the declaration of a Provisional PDA or PDA, development within the area will cease to occur under the standard process prescribed under the SPA. Development will instead be subject to an expedited process under the ED Act. To this end, development may be subject to different levels of assessment, will not require referral to other state agencies for interest checks, and will not provide third-party appeal rights.
  • The effect of local planning instruments over the designated Provisional PDA or PDA will also be suspended. Development decisions will instead be made under either an interim land use plan or a permanent development scheme administered by the State Government. Interim land use plans will generally remain in force for a 12 month period, with the intention of being superseded by a permanent development scheme that will remain in effect without review for as long as the PDA declaration stands.
If an inconsistency between a PDA development scheme and another local or state planning instrument occurs, the PDA development scheme will prevail to the extent of the inconsistency.

The EDQ will also have the power to create by-laws for a PDA, which will operate on an interim 12 month basis. A local government local law will no longer apply to a matter within a PDA if the EDQ by-law provides that the local law does not apply.

Development Assessment within Provisional PDAs and PDAs

The ED Act provides a streamlined development application and approval process for development within a Provisional PDAs or PDAs. The process involves an abbreviated version of the process present under the SPA. Development applications must be lodged with the relevant development assessment manager – being EDQ or the local authority where the responsibility has been delegated. Once submitted, the development assessment manager will review the application and request any further information deemed necessary to make the decision. Public notification of the development application may also be required, but only if the relevant development instrument (interim land use plan or development scheme) requires public notice. The development applications will then be assessed against the relevant development instrument.

The application must be decided by the EDQ or delegated authority within 40 business days of the application being made, after it is satisfied that the applicant has complied with all obligations, including information requests and / or public notification as relevant to the application.

3.  Public consultation and appeal rights

Public involvement with respect to development within PDAs occurs at two stages — during the formation of the development scheme, and during the development assessment process. 

Subsequent to declaration of an area as a PDA but before the formation of a development scheme, the EDQ is required to publish a proposed development scheme for public comment. The submission period is required to last a minimum of 30 business days.2 Upon conclusion of the public comment period, the EDQ must consider the submissions and may amend the proposed development scheme in any way it considers appropriate. If amendments to the proposed development scheme are deemed significant, the proposed development must repeat the public comment process. 

Once the PDA development scheme takes effect it may prescribe certain types of development that must be subject to public notification. However, there is no requirement that certain types of development must be subject to public notification.

Development within a PDA that is required to undergo public notification must do so for a minimum period of 20 business days. Once EDQ is satisfied that the development application has complied with all relevant provisions of the ED Act, the assessment manager — being EDQ or a delegated authority — has 40 business days in which to decide the application.3In deciding the application, the assessment manager must take into consideration the merits of all submissions made.

Upon deciding the application, the assessment manager has 5 business days in which to give notice to the applicant of the decision. A copy of the decision is not required to be tendered to submitters. While the ED Act affords the applicant the opportunity to appeal a refusal or conditions of an approval, it does not provide a submitter the right to appeal the decision. The absence of appeal rights is a significant deviation to the standard state planning process under the SPAwhich permits submitters to appeal decisions to the Planning and Environment Court.  There is, however, a limited right to appeal against conditions which are provided through nominated assessing authorities.

If you are concerned about a possible or planned Provisional PDA or PDA designation over an area, we recommend you get in contact with your local government and clearly detail your concerns as early on in the process as possible.

4.  Example PDA:  Toondah Harbour, Cleveland, Qld

The Toondah Harbour PDA was declared in June 2013 at the request of the Redland City Council. Located approximately 1 kilometre east of the Cleveland CBD, the PDA encompasses an area of 67 hectares — 17.5 hectares of land and 49.5 hectares within the Moreton Bay Marine Park.

The PDA seeks to encourage economic development, with a focus on consolidating Toondah Harbour as a regional gateway to Moreton Bay and North Stradbroke Island. Development within the PDA will focus on medium density mixed-use residential, tourism and retail-based developments with opportunity to establish a private birth marina.

The proposed development scheme was opened for public notification between 10 January 2014 and 24 February 2014. Public consultation on the proposed development scheme is being conducted via a variety of mediums by both the Redland City Council and EDQ.

The development scheme is expected to undergo statutory approval during early 2014, with the final development scheme to be released mid-year.

In the Interim period, development within the PDA is being regulated under the Toondah Harbour Priority Development Area Interim Land Use Plan, which took effect immediately following declaration in June 2013.

To view the Toondah Harbour PDA, as well as other PDAs, see here:

5.  Useful contacts and further information

Environmental Defenders Office (Qld) Inc.
Ph:       07 3211 4466 Post:    8/205 Montague Road, West End 4101
State Government:
For further information regarding the development application process within PDAs, and to view current development application within PDAs, see the below web address:

[1] Economic Development Act 2012 (Qld), section 37. 

[2] Economic Development Act 2012 (Qld), section 59. 

[3] Economic Development Act 2012 (Qld), section 85(2).