Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme

New Planning Scheme (2024) to be prepared

On 28 January 2021, the Sunshine Coast Council voted to commence a new planning scheme for the region.  The current planning scheme was completed in 2014 and reflects the State Government's 2031 South-East Queensland Regional Plan population growth targets.  Under the Planning Act 2016, Council is required to review and either replace or amend the planning scheme within 10 years of taking effect.   So why did the Council decided to replace instead of amending the planning scheme?

An officer's report to Council for the  January 28th meeting stated:

​While the Review has found that the current planning scheme compares favourably to other contemporary planning schemes in Queensland, and has been generally successful in its operation to date, a number of significant influences are emerging which require the current planning and policy framework to be revised and updated, including:

  • state and regional planning horizons have shifted to 2041 and beyond (noting the current planning scheme has a planning horizon to 2031)

  • there is a need to improve and strengthen alignment with recent State, regional and local planning policy changes

  • mapping needs to be updated to better reflect physical and environmental constraints, infrastructure projects, the State Planning Policy (SPP) and South East Queensland Regional Plan 2017 (SEQRP) and

  • there are opportunities to improve useability, accessibility and user experience through new technological delivery platforms (fully electronic planning scheme).

Changes to building height limits and housing density will "significantly change" some Coast suburbs.

Friends of Buddina urge the Community to become involved in the consultation processes:

  • Preliminary public consultation in mid-2021

  • Formal public consultation on proposed planning scheme in mid-to-late 2022


There are important aspects yet to be considered by Council in developing the new planning scheme, such as:

  • The full impact of Covid 19 on housing choices and forms is yet to be confirmed.  

  • The new scheme will be likely based on the 2017 South East Queensland Regional Plan (SEQRP).  A new SEQRP is scheduled for 2022-2024.

  • Community consultation on the Mass Transit Plan and the land use options proposed is not due for completion and consideration until June 2021

  • The new planning scheme is to incorporate the Mass Transit plan.  The transport element of this plan will require funding from both State and Federal Governments.  No such funding has been secured and is not likely to be secured within the preparation horizon of the new scheme.  We should be vigilant to ensure we do not end up with the density increase with no transport solution, the premise of the density increases.

Click here for the indicative plan making process and indicative timeframes for the new planning scheme

Get involved - what you can do?  HAVE YOUR SAY

The Sunshine Coast Regional Council will undertake "preliminary public consultation" on their new Planning Scheme Project in mid-2021 (not the formal public consultation process) and later undertake formal public consultation on their proposed new planning scheme in mid-2022 with an implementation effective from late 2023.

Friends of Buddina believe that we need to remain vigilant about minor changes to the Planning Scheme during the same period.  These minor changes to the current planning scheme may include "urban renewal" and "land use improvements" which mean changes to building height and housing density and will "significantly change" some  suburbs.  The "potential densification" from low-rise residential to medium and high-rise development has been identified as those along Nicklin Way, in suburbs such as Buddina, Warana, Bokarina and others.

We urge all residents to participate in the consultation process and ensure Council know what we want for our area. 


You can also register your interest with Council to receive their updates about the New Planning Scheme project.

Background to the planning scheme

The Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme is the rules based, set of statutory documents, funded by ratepayers and intended to inform residents, investors and developers of compliance expectations.  Applying to all commercial and residential development, it's purpose is to regulate the way all land, buildings and structures are used and developed on the Sunshine Coast.

The current planning scheme commenced in 2014.  It includes local plans (which identify heights and densities), tables of assessment, zones, overlays (codes and maps) and development codes.

The most current Sunshine Coast planning scheme was approved in 2014.  Generally it is reviewed and updated every 10 years.  Amendments are made throughout the 10 year period.  These amendments are brought before Council for review and then voted on.  Since 2014, over 20 amendments have been approved.

The Planning scheme is what Council and all private and commercial developers are supposed to adhere to when undertaking any all development, including building projects.  Planning details for all blocks of land can be reviewed on the Sunshine Coast Council website under their "development.i" website tool.

How Development Applications are assessed

The current SC Planning Scheme FAQs is a relevant and useful document:    Click here

The current SC Fact Sheet on Code and Impact assessment is also a useful document:     Click here

Categories of assessment for assessable development applications

There are 2 categories, namely code and impact assessment.  The planning scheme defines the rules for each category and Council officers are responsible for ensuring each development application is correctly categorised.

Code Assessable developments

Code assessment is an assessment that must be carried out only against the assessment benchmarks in the planning scheme.  Generally, a code assessable development application is one where the development is considered to meet all the relevant requirements as the identified local plan and other references.   Code assessible development applications do not 𝙉𝙊𝙏 require public notification by the developers nor the Council.  Neighbours and local residents often find out after the approval (too late to have any say on the impact).  Prior to approval, they can make submissions to the Council, however they have no formal rights of  appeal. 

There is also a presumption of approval; that the assessment manager must approve the development application as long as it complies with the relevant assessment benchmarks, or can be conditioned in such a way that it complies.  Otherwise, Council may refuse the development application.

Impact Assessable developments

Impact assessment is an assessment that must be carried out against the whole planning scheme.

These applications are determined to have a degree of “impact” that requires a merits based assessment to determine whether they are appropriate in the zone or not and are not guaranteed approval.  A detailed assessment by Council will determine whether or not the proposal is appropriate.  In addition these are subject to public notification so members of the community have the opportunity to make a formal submission.  The community also has the right to appeal decisions to the Planning and Environment Court.

Most developers submit their development applications as code assessable to avoid delays associated with impact assessment, to avoid the involvement of the wider community through public consultation and to reduce the likelihood of challenges in the Planning and Environment Court.

Documents and access links

QLD Legislation and Guidance


State Planning Act 2016 - Current as at 1 October 2020

State Planning Policy 2017

State Issued Sea Turtle Sensitive Area Code

Sunshine Coast Council


SCC Development.i - access to past and current development applications

Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme

​Sunshine Coast planning scheme:  7.2.14 Kawana Waters local plan code

​Sunshine Coast planning scheme:  Map Tile 35 Kawana Waters Local Plan Area

Note: from this link, select the relevant codes, such as:

OVM35E Coastal Protection Overlay Map

OVM35H Height of Buildings Kawana Waters local plan elements

Sunshine Coast planning scheme:  tables of assessment

Note: from this link, select the relevant codes with assessment benchmarks, such as:

Table 5.5.3 High density residential zone

Sunshine Coast planning scheme:  overlay codes

Note: from this link, select the relevant codes with assessment benchmarks (aligned to mapping), such as:

8.2.5 Coastal protection overlay code

8.2.8 Height of buildings and structures overlay code

Sunshine Coast planning scheme:  development codes

Note: from this link, select the relevant codes with assessment benchmarks, such as:

9.3.11 Multi-unit residential uses code

9.4.2 Landscape code

9.4.7 Sustainable design code