Development Assessment

Development Assessment

In the Western Downs, we support and encourage harmonious and sustainable land use outcomes. If you’re interested in undertaking development in the region, you may need to apply for a Development Permit. Our Town Planners will assess how your idea fits within our Planning outcomes and other legislative requirements.

Find out more about Strategic Planning or see the options below for all things related to Development Assessment.

Do I Need Approval?

Whether or not you need development approval depends on a number of factors:

  • The Zoning of your property;
  • Any Overlays affecting your property;
  • The type of development you wish to undertake.

There are three different types of development defined under the Planning Act 2016 that may require planning approval, including a ‘Material Change of Use’, ‘Reconfiguring a Lot’ and ‘Operational Works’.

A ‘Material Change of Use’, of premises, means the start of a new ‘defined use’ of the premises, the re-establishment on the premises of a use that has been abandoned, or a material increase in the intensity of scale of the use of the premises.

For example, Mr. Smith wants to move out of his family home and transform the house into a café. Before he begins, the defined use of his property would be a ‘Dwelling’. After renovating his house and opening up his new café business, the defined use of the land would then change from a ‘Dwelling’ to a ‘Food and Drink Outlet’. As such, Mr. Smith has undertaken a ‘Material Change of Use’ of the land.

Let’s look at another example. Mrs. Brown owns a café across the road from the new café that Mr. Smith’s just opened up. The use of her land is already defined as a ‘Food and Drink Outlet’. She wants to make sure that her business can compete with Mr. Smith’s new business, so she decides to add a big extension to her café so she can accommodate more customers. In this way, Mrs. Brown has increased the scale and intensity of her existing ‘Food and Drink Outlet’ and has therefore also undertaken a ‘Material Change of Use’ of the land.

‘Reconfiguring a Lot’ includes creating new lots by subdividing, amalgamating lots, rearranging the boundaries of a lot, dividing land into parts by a lease agreement or creating an easement giving access to a lot from a constructed road.

‘Operational Work’ means work, other than building work or plumbing and drainage work, in, over or under the premises that materially affects the premises or the use of premises. See our information on Development Engineering to find out more.

Of course, these are all basic, explanatory definitions and examples and should be used as a guide only. Additionally, not every development requires you to lodge a development application with Council. Contact Council today for advice tailored to your specific development proposal.

Planning and Development Certificates

Before purchasing or developing a property, it can be useful to request a Planning and Development Certificate.

A Planning and Development Certificate is a written summary of information applicable to a specific property regarding planning scheme provisions, infrastructure charges or agreements and development approvals.

There are three different types of Planning and Development Certificates that you can request depending on the level of detail sought, including ‘Limited’, ‘Standard’ and ‘Full’. The length of time required to prepare a certificate varies between each type, as follows:

Limited – 5 business days

Standard – 10 business days

Full – 30 business days

You can view our Fees and Charges to find out the applicable fee for each type of Planning and Development Certificate, apply for a Planning and Development Certificate online by submitting the below Property Search Request Form or Contact Council to find out more.

Property Search Request Form

Application Process

When you lodge a development application with Council, there is a step-by-step process with legislative time frames that must be followed by all parties involved, which can vary from one application to another.

A key factor in the application process is the Level of Assessment that your application requires.

There are two different levels of assessable development, including Code and Impact.

Code Assessment – Code assessment is our lowest level of assessment and only requires our town planners to assess your application against certain benchmarks of the Western Downs Planning Scheme. Code Assessable planning applications do not require public notification. Council generally advises applicants to allow 2-3 months for a Code Assessable application to be processed (however this timeframe can vary significantly).

Impact Assessment – Impact assessment is our highest level of assessment and requires our planners to assess your application against the entire Western Downs Planning Scheme. Applicants are also required to undertake a process of public notification before it is decided by Council.

Council generally advises applicants to allow 3-6 months for an Impact Assessable application to be processed, (however this timeframe can vary significantly).

Roadmaps to Development

Our ‘Roadmaps to Development’ provide a visual guide to the application process.

RM1 – Material Change of Use

RM2 – The ‘DA Rules’ Part – Code Assessable Application

RM3 – The ‘DA Rules’ Part – Impact Assessable Application

RM4 – Reconfiguring a Lot

RM5 – Request to Change

RM6 – Request to Extend

See the options below for more detailed information about each step.

Pre-Lodgement Meetings

Council offers a free ‘pre-lodgement’ meeting service, where our Town Planners and Development Engineer can meet with you to provide indicative advice prior to the lodgement of your Development Application. A pre-lodgement meeting allows our team to give you the most detailed and accurate information relevant to your proposal that will assist in the making of an application.

Pre-lodgement Meetings however, only provide general and indicative advice, and are not an outcome for an application.  By their very nature, a pre-lodgement meeting cannot necessarily reveal all issues or accurately predict the outcome of an application – that is the purpose of the complete development assessment process.

To allow for proper preparation and to streamline discussions, Council’s preference is for information to be provided to Council prior to the pre-lodgement, particularly regarding the development proposal and the location details.

Contact Council today to arrange a pre-lodgement meeting.

Application Forms

All development applications must be accompanied by the relevant development application form. These development application forms have been drafted by the Queensland State Government Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning and are available for download on their website. Alternatively, Council can provide electronic or hard copies of forms. Contact Council today to find out which form you are required to submit.

Application Fees

All development applications must be accompanied by the relevant application fee. View our Fees and Charges or Contact Council today to find out the fees applicable to your application.

View the Infrastructure Charges Resolution (No. 7.1) 2017.
In effect from 21 December 2017

Lodgement of Development Application to Council

Development Applications can be submitted to Council via email to Council also accepts hard copy applications, which can be lodged at our Corporate Office or any of our Customer Service Centres.

Western Downs Regional Council does not currently have an online application lodgement service.


In some circumstances, the property you wish to develop might have characteristics that are not Council’s responsibility or area of expertise. In this situation, your application may need to be ‘referred’ to the Queensland State Government or another body for their decision, comment or advice.

For example, if the property you wish to develop is near a highway, sometimes the Queensland Government Department of Transport and Main Roads will need to assess how your development might impact that road.

This referral process will change the length of time it takes for your application to be processed and referral agencies charge application fees that are separate and additional to those charged by Council.

Information Requests

Information Requests may be required when Council needs additional information to decide a development application. This may alter the length of time it takes to process an application. Council does not request additional information for every development application; instead, requests are made on a case-by-case basis.

Public Notification

For an Impact Assessable development application, you are required to undertake a process of public notification. This allows the public to view and make written submissions about the application and gives those submitters the right to appeal the final decision in court.

If you are required to undertake public notification, our Town Planners will advise you of the specific details and requirements of the process.

Decision Notices and Statement of Reasons

Once Council has decided an application, the Decision Notice will be issued to you and published on our website. A Statement of Reasons will also be published on our website. View Planning Decisions that have been issued by Council.