Image
New Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme
  • Last updated:
  • 09 Apr 2021
Register your interest to receive updates about the New Planning Scheme project

On 28 January 2021, Council resolved to prepare a new planning scheme for the Sunshine Coast[140KB].

A planning scheme is a legal document that is used to shape future land use and development within a local government area. The planning scheme applies to the whole of the Sunshine Coast local government area, except designated priority development areas (PDAs), such as Caloundra South (Aura) and Maroochydore City Centre, which are regulated by the State Government via separate development schemes. 

The Planning Process Begins

A review of the current planning scheme (Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme 2014) in 2020 found that while it is generally operating well as a planning instrument, it could be improved in several important ways. Changes to strengthen alignment with more recent State and local policies are considered particularly important. Responding to emerging issues such as the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, the predicted impacts of climate change and new technologies are also key considerations.

It is anticipated that the new Sunshine Coast planning scheme, which is intended to be completed by 2024, will build on the strengths of the current planning scheme whilst also providing new and enhanced direction for future development. In doing so, it will play a crucial role in achieving Council’s vision of becoming - Australia’s most sustainable region. Healthy. Smart. Creative.

This is an exciting time for the region as we commence the next stage of planning for our future and updating our most significant land use planning document.

New Planning Scheme Process

Council is committed to ensuring that the community plays a meaningful role in the preparation of the new planning scheme.

Preparing a planning scheme is a lengthy process involving multiple steps and follows a process set out by State legislation. The project will run over a number of years, and is intended to be completed by 2024.

Simplified Planning Scheme Preparation - Process

Image 

*The plan-making process is anticipated to take three to four years to complete (noting that the timing of certain steps in the process, such as state interest reviews, are not within Council’s control). 

Community Engagement

Local community input is critical in planning for a place. The Sunshine Coast community is highly interested and passionate about the region and its future. Council recognises the importance of implementing a planning framework that reflects the community's aspirations and values, and that supports the achievement of a shared vision, and a sense of ownership and control over our future.

Council is keen to involve the community from the beginning of the new planning scheme process. By registering your interest in the New Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme project, you can be directly informed with project updates and notified about the timing of consultation activities.

In due course, the consultation and engagement program for the new planning scheme will include:

  • a preliminary consultation phase, where community feedback will be sought on key directions for managing growth and development on the Sunshine Coast and in local areas. These directions will inform the preparation of the Draft Planning Scheme
  • a formal (statutory) consultation phase, where community feedback will be sought on the Draft Planning Scheme itself, including details such as proposed zoning and code provisions
  • ongoing opportunities for engagement including project updates, and the ability to contact the project team directly through a dedicated project email address
  • implementation and training including support, resources and guidance.

If you have any questions or concerns, the New Planning Scheme Project Team would be happy to hear from you. Email us at newplanningscheme@sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au

Feedback received from other projects, including the upcoming consultation in relation to the Mass Transit Project will also help inform the development of the planning scheme. You can learn more about that project, upcoming consultation opportunities or share your thoughts by visiting the Mass Transit Project web pages.

The proposed consultation and engagement approach for the new planning scheme is summarised in the diagram below:

Image

*The plan-making process is anticipated to take three to four years to complete (noting that the timing of certain steps in the process, such as state interest reviews, are not within Council’s control). 

Contact the Project Team

If you have any queries about the New Planning Scheme Project, you can email newplanningscheme@sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au or call 5420 8953.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


A planning scheme is a legal document that regulates land use and development. The planning scheme expresses the strategic land use intent for the local government area, allocates zones and incorporates assessment provisions such as codes.

Importantly, a planning scheme only regulates new development. Existing uses can continue to operate indefinitely, even if they are inconsistent with the provisions of a new planning scheme, provided they were established lawfully. A change in the nature or scale of an existing use may however require a material change of use application. 

The planning scheme can encourage certain types of development, for example, through lowering the levels of assessment for development which is consistent with the intent for an area. However, the planning scheme cannot in itself make development happen on the ground.


The Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme 2014 took effect 21 May 2014. Under the Planning Act 2016, Council is required to review its Planning Scheme within 10 years of it being made. In addition, over the past decade, the region has seen significant growth and change. A review of the current Planning Scheme was therefore considered appropriate.

Undertaken during the course of 2020, the Planning Scheme Review examined the technical operation of the current planning scheme, and whether it accords with current legislation, Council’s adopted vision and strategies, and community expectations.

The Review found that the current planning scheme:

  • is generally operating well as a planning instrument
  • compares favourably to other contemporary planning schemes
  • is not significantly out of date due to periodic amendments, and
  • generally aligns with Council’s current policy positions.

However, the Review also found that the current Planning Scheme would benefit from changes to:

  • strengthen alignment with more recent State and local policy
  • update various mapping layers 
  • address information gaps, emerging issues and key tension points, and
  • an e-plan platform to improve useability, accessibility and user experience.

On balance, based on the key findings from the Review, it was resolved that a new planning scheme should be prepared.