THE Queensland Government last week released details about a new government office that will be charged with streamlining "economy-building medium to large-scale development projects".
Deputy Premier and Minister for Local Government Paul Lucas said the Major Projects Office (MPO) would boost confidence in the local construction industry by ensuring the smooth and timely delivery of large-scale developments such as shopping centres and office blocks.
Mr Lucas said the establishment of the MPO is in response to the Building Revival Forum that was convened in April to discuss potential short and medium-term measures to help stimulate the construction industry following the global financial crisis.
"One of the more important reforms the industry called out for was the development of a coordination body to help projects that fall short of Coordinator-General or Urban Land Development Authority coordination get through some of the bigger hurdles thrown up during the planning process.
"The government responded with a commitment to investigate the establishment of a Major Projects Office to be a one-stop shop for these projects," Mr Lucas said.
While the MPO is not an approval agency, it will provide a single point of contact and offer whole-of-government assessment to help streamline major commercial and industrial developments, dealing with major projects that do not qualify for oversight by the Co-ordinator General, or residential projects which are facilitated by the Urban Land Development Authority.
"This will ensure the smooth, timely delivery of these big ticket projects that will benefit the community and in turn, help stimulate the construction industry," Mr Lucas said.
MPO projects will need to be consistent with existing regional plans and in accordance with either local planning schemes or an established development sequence. The MPO will work within the Sustainable Planning Act 2009.
Eligible projects are those that are more complicated than usual and require coordinated facilitation from the state government. A case manager will be responsible for facilitating projects.
Special consideration will be given to major regional projects, with specifically developed guidelines allowing for more flexibility around the eligibility of regional projects within the MPO qualification process.
The state government allocated $1.8 million in its latest budget to establish the office within the Department of Local Government and Planning's Growth Management Queensland.
Eligibility Criteria for Major Projects Office (MPO) facilitation
A project or a program of projects with State referral requirements that:
- Is in accordance with the strategic intent of a regional plan; and is in accordance with a planning scheme OR an established development sequence;
- Involves a range of complex considerations that necessitate coordinated facilitation; and
- Exhibits one or more of the following key characteristics:
- - has the capacity to generate significant economic, social and/or environmental benefit for a city, region and/or the State
- - is a retail, commercial or mixed-use development with a value of at least $30 million, or an industrial development with a value of at least $20 million
- - has a substantial and demonstrated commitment, financial or otherwise, from a party that is dependent on the delivery of the development.
Nominated projects demonstrating more than one of the above characteristics will be given greater consideration for MPO facilitation.
The capacity to generate significant economic, social and/or environmental benefits will be highly valued, as will the capacity of proposals to contribute to strengthening regional economies.
Bearing in mind the critical importance of regional development, the MPO will exercise flexibility in assessing and considering regional projects for inclusion and facilitation.
Fulfilment of the above criteria does not automatically guarantee MPO facilitation, and projects will be assessed on their relative merits.