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Central Highlands Regional Council Planning Scheme 2016

The Central Highlands Regional Council Planning Scheme 2016 is a living and evolving document that regulates the way land, buildings and structures are used and developed in the Central Highlands to make sure the right development happens in the right locations. It also helps plan for infrastructure to support growth and create a more diversified economy while continuing to protect our regions values and way of life. The Planning Scheme is driven by community aspirations and reflects ongoing engagement with stakeholders to enable continuous improvement.

The Central Highlands Regional Council Planning Scheme 2016, adopted by Council on 24 February 2016, supersedes the four Planning Schemes and associated planning scheme policies of the former Emerald, Duaringa, Bauhinia and Peak Downs Shires. The Central Highlands Planning Scheme 2016 does not apply to the priority development areas of Blackwater and Blackwater East. Development in these areas is managed by Economic Development Queensland.

The current version of the planning scheme is Amendment No. 6 which commenced 16 May 2022.  You can access this version of the scheme here.  Superseded versions of the Central Highlands Regional Council Planning Scheme 2016 can be found by following the link below.

Council still also holds copies of the former shire planning schemes for each of the  previous shires. Please note that these planning schemes are no longer applicable for strategic planning and development assessment purposes as they were replaced by the Central Highlands Regional Council Planning Scheme 2016.

Amendments to the planning scheme are made regularly. Planning scheme users are encouraged to regularly check for such amendments.


  • Planning scheme
  • Amendments
  • Improve the plan
  • Background
  • FAQ's
  • TLPI
  • Planning scheme

Access the Central Highlands Planning Scheme 2016 eplanning portal to:

  • Search and read the full planning scheme or just those parts applicable to you.
  • Search for a particular property by lot or address with our interactive mapping tool and view aerial imagery, zone and overlay mapping.
  • Request a property report.
  • Download and print code compliance tables and PDFs of the planning scheme.
  • Use your mobile device’s gps to locate your current position and search nearby properties.

For assistance navigating the planning scheme and interactive mapping, refer to this guideline document.

*Please use a modern internet browser such as Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Safari or Opera to access the eplanning portal. Internet Explorer is not supported by this site.”

  • Amendments

Council is committed to ensuring that the Central Highlands Regional Council Planning Scheme 2016 is a living and evolving document that is responsive to changing community needs, legislation, policy and other factors.

We achieve this through an ongoing program of community engagement, research and review and amendment of the existing planning scheme.

The Planning Act 2016 and the Minister’s Guidelines and Rules set out the process for making and amending the planning scheme which council must follow.

The amendment process takes time anywhere from 1 to 5 years, depending on the type of amendment and what matters are being considered. Each amendment involves a combination of research, consultation and review by Council, the community and the Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning (Queensland Government).

This flowchart outlines the major planning scheme amendment process but there are a number of other types of planning scheme amendments such as, administrative amendments, minor amendments, and qualified state interest amendments.

For more information about planning schemes and the process of amendment, refer to the Queensland Government website.

We encourage you to regularly check this page to see what planning scheme amendments have been proposed and/or are underway and their current status.

  • Major Amendment - Business Improvement and Innovation

    What changes are proposed?

    The Business Improvement and Innovation amendment (the amendment) has proposed amendments to the existing planning scheme which seeks to respond to new or emerging technologies, changing economic characteristics, tourism demands, and future community trends. The proposed amendment includes widespread and numerous changes which have been collated into five Key Themes. The description of matters below provides a list of “headliner’ changes which significantly contribute to a particular theme.

    Theme 1 – Promoting Tourism

    1. Lowering the levels of assessment for new tourism activities
    2. Accommodation for Tourism Workers in Key Tourism Areas
    3. Establishment of Ecotourism precincts
    4. Establishment of Tourism precincts
    5. Electric vehicle charging stations

    Theme 2 – Nurturing Agribusiness

    1. Diversifying income – lowering levels of assessment for various industries located in the rural zone
    2. Succession planning for intergenerational farm property transfers
    3. Changes to minimum lot sizes and subdivision by lease
    4. Earthworks in rural areas

    Theme 3 – Red tape reduction and improving clarity

    1. Lowering the level of assessment to support new or expanding business applications
    2. Revamping Building Works
    3. Agistment on council owned land
    4. Lowering levels of assessment for gravel and borrow pits
    5. Reduced boundary realignment requirements
    6. Defining what is considered a “Temporary use”

    Theme 4 – Keeping our towns beautiful

    1. Incorporating Amenity and aesthetics
    2. Advertising devices
    3. Revision of minimum on-site parking requirements to reduce parking overflow
    4. Height restrictions of buildings and structures

    Theme 5 – Mapping and Administration changes

    The opportunity has been taken to address a wide range of minor administrative matters including zoning anomalies and resolving general administrative changes and updates to have the planning scheme deliver a more effective document to the reader. These changes amendments will be made in accordance with the Queensland Government’s Minister’s Guidelines and Rules and include:

    1. Updates to SPP mapping and DCDB spatial layer – multiple maps have undergone updates that reflect new data provided by the State Government
    2. Changes to strategic framework mapping, zoning and other overlays that reflect updates to council data, development approvals or proposed land use changes under this amendment
    3. Updating references to legislation and standards to acknowledge newer versions
    4. Schedule 4 – Table SC4.1.1 Updated with notations of decisions affecting the planning scheme
    5. General review to fix minor spelling and grammar mistakes
    6. Amendments that respond to State comments to create an easier to use and read document

    What has happened to date?

    On 3 February 2020, notice was given to the then Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning (DSDMIP) that council had decided via resolution 2019/06/25/018 to prepare a major planning scheme amendment.

    On 2 March 2020, DSDMIP (now the Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning) issued a request for further information in order to establish consistency with the Planning Act 2016 and State Planning Policy (SPP). The timeframe for the state review has been paused until this information is submitted.

    Council has responded to the state’s request and further scrutinised the revised amendment through a series of workshops, internal review and consultation with economic. A revised draft amendment was provided for preliminary review by the state on 13 September 2021 with further background information on 17 September 2021. A meeting was also held with state representatives on 30 September 2021 which has resulted in additional feedback and a further request for clarification on a number of matters. Among other things, the state has requested extensive revisions to the updated mapping proposed.

    What is happening now?

    Council is working to action the State’s request for further clarification and additional mapping. It is likely that a revised amendment package will be ready for resubmission to the state in the first half of 2022.

    What is the next step?

    Once Council receives approval from the Minister to proceed to public notification, Council will provide all amendment material, including explanatory fact sheets, to you (the community) for comment.

  • Major Amendment - Floodplain Management

    The Major Amendment – Floodplain Management has now been adopted and commenced 16 May 2022.  This amendment now forms the current version of the planning scheme cited as Amendment No. 6.

    Purpose of the amendment

    The purpose and general effect of the amendment is to more appropriately reflect the State interest – Natural hazards, risk and resilience which sits within the State Planning Policy 2017. In doing so council has adopted and utilised current flood models to nominate flood risk categories enabling better land use management of the potential for conflict between development and flood risk. The overall intent is to ensure that where possible we avoid land uses that increase the exposure of people and property to unacceptable flood risk. The amendment replaced the flood hazard overlay code and flood hazard overlay mapping from Amendment No.5.

    History of the Amendment
    On 28 October 2019, notice was given to the then Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning (DSDMIP) that council had decided to prepare a major planning scheme amendment (Resolution 2019/04/09/005) and submit it to the state (Resolution 2019/09/10/015).

    On 19 November 2019, DSDMIP issued a request for further information in order to ensure regulations under the Planning Act 2016 and State Planning Policy (SPP) are met. The timeframe for the state review has been paused until this information is submitted. Throughout 2020 and the early half of 2021 council engaged hydraulic engineers to provide a more up to date flood model for key at-risk communities of Bluff, Emerald and Sapphire. These model outputs together with all of the endorsed flood studies for the region can be accessed by anyone on the CHRC Flood Portal.

    In May 2021 council launched the Our Region Our Resilience program as part of the round 1 consultation for the floodplain amendment. This consultation included a region-wide roadshow where the team were able to speak with the community on building flood awareness and seeking ideas on how to better manage our floodplain.

    Following this consultation, officers prepared a revised draft amendment which was approved by the Minister for formal public notification which occurred  7 February through to 4 March 2022 (Resolution 2021 / 09 / 22 / 013).  The outcomes of both consultations have been captured in the Community Consultation Report.

    At its general meeting 13 April 2022, council resolved to advance the proposed scheme amendment for final approval from the Minister (Resolution 2022 / 04 / 13 / 004).

    On 3 May 2022 the Minister approved the amendment enabling council to adopt and commence.  This amendment has been incorporated into the scheme and took effect Monday 16 May 2022. A notice appeared in the Government Gazette 13 May 2022.

  • Major Amendment - Urban design guidelines and standards of service

    What changes are proposed?

    The purpose of the proposed amendment is to incorporate Urban Design Guidelines and design standards into the planning scheme which will enhance the built form of residential, commercial and industrial areas and associated streetscapes, landscaping and open space areas.

    The amendment will also consider aspects such as:

    • Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles
    • coherent parts of streetscapes in existing and new development areas
    • equitable access for people with disabilities or restricted mobility along continuous paths of travel
    • desired standards of service for public area beautifications
    • capitalising on locally unique settings, character areas, or cultural heritage places;
    • planning provisions and/or policies that can create places of high-quality design in parks and town centres which encourage social and economic interactions.

    Councils Liveability Strategy and Action Plan 2019-2020 requires that Urban Design Guidelines and Desired Standards of Service are established and incorporated into the Planning Scheme. This project will deliver upon multiple actions under the strategy.

    What has happened to date?

    Council has undertaken a preliminary review of all urban areas within the shire and has commenced drafting guidelines.

    What is happening now?

    The draft guidelines will continue to be progressed. Internal stakeholders are being consulted to ensure the guidelines will align with other relevant plans and procedures that are being prepared by other council business units.

    What is the next step?

    The finalised report will make a recommendation in regard to implementing design outcomes through the planning scheme. A proposed amendment will then be drafted for the state’s review.

  • Major Amendment - Heritage, Scenic Amenity and Indigenous Interests

    What is Heritage? What is the Local Heritage Register?

    Heritage can be tangible and intangible. Tangible heritage is the most familiar to people and can consist of buildings, archaeological places, landscapes, views, and objects. Intangible heritage can include traditions, ideas, and cultural practices. It can include places where a particular event occurred but there is no remaining physical evidence of it. Whether tangible or intangible, heritage is defined by the idea of significance. For more information on what it means for a site to be listed on the Local Heritage Register, refer to this fact sheet.

    What changes are proposed?

    The purpose of the proposed amendment will be to:

    • facilitate improvements to the Local Heritage Register to identify, preserve and showcase places of cultural heritage significance and
    • incorporate Indigenous Interests into the planning scheme.

    The project will incorporate consultation and engagement with local communities and Traditional Owners to ensure improvements to the heritage register and Heritage Overlay Code align with stakeholder values and themes which characterise the cultural identity and sense of place which is unique to each part of the Central Highlands region and its history.

    The amendment will also consider aspects such as:

    • Preservation of landscapes that have an associated cultural significance and/or high scenic amenity value to the region
    • Development of a list of additional places to be considered for the local heritage register
    • Preparation of individual place cards which describe the significance of each place and associated mapping amendments

    What has happened to date?

    Council has commenced the first stage of work on this amendment with the engagement of experts in cultural heritage to:

    1. assist in the identification and review of sites of local historical significance and
    2. to review how to incorporate indigenous interests into the planning scheme.

    What is happening now?

    Council is currently reviewing the planning scheme’s Local Heritage Register, which outlines places of heritage significance in the Central Highlands. As part of the review, we are asking residents to help identify local cultural heritage sites for possible inclusion in the overlay. A Have Your Say page has been created for residents to nominate historical sites for consideration.

    What is the next step?

    Depending on weather conditions, the heritage consultants will undertake field work in December 2021 or early 2022 to further investigate sites that are considered to be good candidates for the Local Heritage Register.

  • Major Amendment - Blackwater and Blackwater East Priority Development Area revocation

    What changes are proposed?

    The urban area of Blackwater, north of the Capricorn Highway, is affected by two Priority Development Areas (PDAs) declared under the Economic Development Act 2012, meaning that development and planning in this area is bound by different provisions to the rest of the Central Highlands.

    The assessment manager of a PDA is Economic Development Queensland (EDQ) for all functions and powers unless the Minister delegates a specific function or power to Council. For example, the Minister for Economic Development Queensland (MEDQ) delegated the authority for development assessment within the PDA’s from the MEDQ to Council on 4 July 2016.

    Council intends to work with Economic Development Queensland (EDQ) to progress the revocation of these declared PDAs, which would see these urban areas incorporated back into the Central Highlands Regional Council Planning Scheme.

    Once this occurs Council, and by extension the Central Highlands community, will have greater say in shaping the future development of Blackwater.

    What has happened to date?

    This amendment is still in the concept phase and not yet begun.

    Council has been working with EDQ to undertake data cleansing to assist council resolve to undertake this revocation project I.e Drafting of the amendment. EDQ will drive this drafting process with council assisting through the community consultation and gazettal of the amendment.

    What is the next step?

    Depending on available resources, drafting of this amendment may begin in mid 2022.

  • Improve the plan

The Central Highlands Regional Council is committed to continual improvement of the Planning Scheme. We continually reflect on all the state government interests and any regional plan updates that exist for the Central highlands region and encourage you to get involved by suggesting improvements for consideration for future updates and amendments.

All suggestions will be considered as part of the ongoing program of amendments. Any changes resulting from your suggestion will be scheduled into the applicable (administrative, minor or major) update packaged. Future amendments will be under the Planning Act 2016 and associated Planning regulation 2017 which took effect from the 3 July 2017 and in line with the statutory instrument for plan making in Queensland, the Ministers Guidelines and Rules (MGR).

You will be advised of the outcome of your suggestions.

Please send all suggestions to with “Attention: Strategic Planning – CHRC Planning Scheme Improvement Suggestion” as a subject line.

  • Background

An extensive amount of work has gone into getting the Central Highlands Regional Council Planning Scheme 2016 to completion. This not only includes work undertaken by Council, but also from the community who have provided input into Council’s strategies and policies which have fed into the drafting of the Planning Scheme.

The process Council used to develop the Central Highlands Regional Council Planning Scheme 2016 is regulated by the statutory guideline for making or amending a local planning instrument prescribed by the Sustainable Planning Act 2009.  Drafting the new Planning Scheme included the following steps:

Phase Activity Timing
 Stage 1

(Proposal for new Planning Scheme)

 Resolution to prepare a new Planning Scheme 18 January 2010
Stage 1

(Preparation of Planning Scheme)

Preparation of background studies and Priority Infrastructure Plans February 2010 to March 2014
·         (Preparation of Strategic Framework Element) Drafting February to June 2012
Public consultation August to September 2012
Adoption of Central Highlands Strategic Framework 2031 31 October 2012
·         (Drafting of Planning Scheme) drafting of Planning Scheme July 2013 –  March 2014
Stage 2

(First State Interest Review)

Council resolved to send draft Planning Scheme to State for review to ensure compliance with State Interests. 23 April 2014

·      State formally responded 4 November 2014

Stage 3

(Public Consultation)

Formal public consultation of draft Planning Scheme January to March 2015
Council considered the submissions received during the public consultation and amended the draft planning scheme accordingly. March to August 2015
Stage 3

(Ministerial Review)

Council resolved to send draft Planning Scheme to State for review by Minister for final check to ensure compliance with State Interests. 9 September 2015

·      State formally responded 8 February 2016

Stage 4


Council resolved to adopt the Planning Scheme to commence on 4 March 2016. 24 February 2016
  • FAQ's

What is a planning scheme?

A planning scheme helps us to manage growth through regulating existing land use and new development. This legal document assists to facilitate change within the region by setting direction, improvement and innovation that reflects community aspirations.

What is ‘development’?

The planning scheme regulates land use and development. ‘Development’ is defined under the Planning Act 2016 (the Act) as:

  • Material Change of Use (MCU) (e.g. establishing a new house, shop or office building);
  • Reconfiguring a lot (e.g. subdivision);
  • Operational work (e.g. landscaping works, engineering works, placing an advertising device on premises, vegetation clearing);
  • Building work; or
  • Plumbing and Drainage work.

What are the planning scheme objectives?

  • To produce a single, integrated planning scheme that regulates development across the whole Central Highlands region.
  • To produce a planning scheme that is simple and easy to use and administer.
  • To comprehensively address the expectations of the community.
  • To achieve compliance with the Planning Act 2016, the State Planning Policy and the Central Queensland Regional Plan.

How will the planning scheme affect me?

We had been operating under four planning schemes from the former shire council areas that dealt with development differently and have different provisions. It’s important to have one planning scheme that reflects the needs and aspirations of the whole region.

Does the planning scheme affect existing uses?

The planning scheme does not affect lawful uses which may continue to operate indefinitely in accordance with their relevant approval (if applicable). However, a proposed change in the scale or intensity of an existing use may need to be assessed against the planning scheme.

Why did we need a new planning scheme?

Queensland Government’s introduction of new planning legislation has driven planning reform throughout Queensland. A key objective of the reforms is to improve consistency in purpose and provisions between planning schemes and their interpretation. In response to their reform the many differences between the four schemes that were operational in the Central Highlands region have been resolved through one document. If you own a property or business in the Central Highlands region or live, work or holiday here, the planning scheme will help achieve sustainable local land use and development.

  • TLPI

A temporary local planning instrument (TLPI) is a statutory instrument created under the provisions of the Planning Act 2016  via the process stipulated in the Minster’s Guidelines and Rules 2017  which may suspend or otherwise affect the operation of a planning scheme for a period of up to two (2) years from its commencement date.

Generally a TLPI is an interim response that:

  • is put in place quickly to protect a specific local government area from adverse impacts
  • prevails over the Planning Scheme when an inconsistency arises
  • enables longer term planning provisions to be shaped while it is in effect (usually a change to the Planning Scheme takes 12 months)

Current TLPIs in effect

Temporary Local Planning Instrument 02/2022 – Operational work involving vegetation clearing within the Carnarvon Gorge area – specifically lots 7AP15625, 7SP103687, 6SP103687, 236NPW490 [Segment No. 44206, Parcel No. 17], 8CUE78 and 10CUE87.
The purpose of the TLPI is to to allow for proposed clearing to be assessed alongside provisions that consider the scenic and natural environment values of the area.
Effective date: 25 May 2022

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