THE Queensland Government last week said it has ensured that heritage buildings in the state will be better protected as a result of tighter laws and tougher penalties passed by Parliament.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure and Planning Jackie Trad said the new laws make it clear that local government planning approval is required before building approvals can be issued, including when character houses are to be demolished.
"This legislation will better protect our cherished heritage places for future generations and ensure that we do not lose historic homes at the stroke of a pen," Ms Trad said.
"We have seen several incidents of private certifiers signing off on inappropriate demolitions. These laws deliver tougher penalties that will assist in stamping out this practice.
"They allow for a Temporary Local Planning Instrument made by a council to have immediate effect, such as when it is being used to protect heritage buildings from inappropriate demolition.
"The tougher legislation also sees the maximum penalty for development offences more than double with an increase from $202,963 to $548,550.
"This is designed to act as a deterrent to ensure unlawful approvals are not issued before local government planning approvals are obtained.
"These penalties were slated to be come into effect in July this year, but have now been brought forward to ensure the immediate protection of the character of our local communities.
"The other big change will prevent the Planning and Environment Court from awarding costs against community members who are challenging developments, giving a voice back to the little guy.
"When the LNP stripped the community of this legal right in 2012, it meant unscrupulous developers could threaten local communities with a costs order to avoid legitimate appeals against development that does not comply with a Council's town plan.
"Queenslanders can once again appeal planning decisions without the fear of having hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs awarded against them."
The changes came with the passage of the Local Government Electoral (Transparency and Accountability in Local Government) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016.