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Planning & building

The Gold Coast is a vibrant and attractive city. We are working hard to maintain our enviable lifestyle and ensure our city continues to thrive in a sustainable way.

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Gold Coast Planning Scheme

Gold Coast Planning Scheme 2003 Version 1.2 Amended November 2011

The Gold Coast Planning Scheme is a living document that guides the growth and development of 'Our Living City', the City of Gold Coast (the City). The document was developed in accordance with the Queensland Government's Integrated Planning Act (IPA) 1997.

Find the link to the Integrated Planning Act below.

The Planning Scheme guides the way new development occurs on the Gold Coast. It is a key tool to help the City manage the Gold Coast's ongoing growth in a sustainable manner. The Scheme sets out the preferred land use of every Gold Coast property and identifies what natural areas should be protected, where shops, industrial estates and public spaces should be located, and sets standards and criteria for buildings.

Given that the Planning Scheme is a living document, it is periodically reviewed and amended in accordance with State legislation relevant at the time.

Version 1.2 Amended November 2011

The Gold Coast Planning Scheme 2003 Version 1.2 Amended November 2011 is the current version of the Planning Scheme. It commenced on 14 November 2011. It includes the Council-adopted Protection of Golf Courses Amendment Package, Varsity Station Village Local Area Plan and Consequential Amendments.

The links below provide online access to the Gold Coast Planning Scheme 2003 and related information.

Loose-leaf inserts

Amendments to the Gold Coast Planning Scheme 2003 are released as loose-leaf inserts. To ensure your hardcopy of the Planning Scheme contains all endorsed amendments, you will need to do one of the following:

  • download and print the loose-leaf inserts from the City's website, and replace the relevant pages in accordance with the update summary
  • purchase a DVD copy of Version 1.2 Amended November 2011 (which includes the loose-leaf inserts), print and replace the relevant pages in accordance with the update summary
  • purchase the hardcopy loose-leaf inserts from the City and replace the relevant pages in accordance with the update summary.

Note: only pages that contain the endorsed amendment will reference Version 1.2 Amended November 2011 in the footer. Other pages not containing the amendment will remain unchanged. Additional pages (not containing the latest amendment) may need to be reprinted to align page formatting.

Loose-leaf inserts and DVDs can be purchased from the City's Nerang and Bundall Administration Centres and the Coolangatta Branch Office.

Viewing the Planning Scheme

The Gold Coast Planning Scheme 2003 Version 1.2 Amended November 2011 is available for viewing online and can be viewed electronically at the City's Nerang and Bundall Administration Centres and City libraries. Hardcopies are available for viewing at the Nerang and Bundall Administration Centres and the Coolangatta Branch Office.

Purchasing the Planning Scheme

If you wish to purchase a hardcopy of the Planning Scheme, copies of Gold Coast Planning Scheme 2003 Version 1.2 are available from the City's Nerang, Bundall and Coolangatta offices or via the Planning Scheme Mail Order Form below. You will need to update your hardcopy with the loose-leaf inserts.

Amendment to Planning Scheme Policy 11 – Land Development Guidelines

Amendments to Planning Scheme Policy 11 – Land Development Guidelines were adopted by Council of the City of Gold Coast on 30 April 2013 and took effect on and from 3 June 2013.

Visit the Planning Scheme Policies website to view the following:

  • Summary of changes to Planning Scheme Policy 11 – Land Development Guidelines.
  • Updated Planning Scheme Policy 11 – Land Development Guidelines incorporating the amendments.

Policy 11 – Land Development Guidelines is available for viewing online and can be viewed electronically at the City's Nerang and Bundall Administration Centres and City libraries.

The policy is available in CD format and can be purchased at the Nerang and Bundall Administration Centres and the Coolangatta Branch Office or via the Planning Scheme Mail Order Form below.

Local Government Boundary Reform - March 2008

In accordance with the Queensland Government local government boundary reforms, the area north of the Albert River was transferred from the City of Gold Coast to Logan City Council on 15 March 2008. In accordance with the requirements of the Integrated Planning Act 1997, Logan City Council now administers all development and land use planning within the transferred area.

All enquiries regarding planning and development within the areas transferred to Logan City Council should be made to Logan City Council.

The version of the Gold Coast Planning Scheme operating in the transferred area administered by Logan City Council is different to the version of the Gold Coast Planning Scheme operating in the City of Gold Coast boundary. Applicants should ensure they are using the correct version of the Planning Scheme when preparing their applications.

Further information

Enquiries regarding the Planning Scheme can be made at the Town Planning Advice Centre at the City's Nerang office or by contacting us on 07 5582 8708.

Key information

  • What is the Council Planning Scheme?

    The Planning Scheme guides the growth and development of Gold Coast City. It is an important tool that assists Council to ensure that the growth of the Gold Coast is intentional and meets the expectations of the community and industry.

  • How does it do this?

    The Planning Scheme determines how and where development can occur in Gold Coast City. This includes the building of new residential estates and houses, as well as changes to the usage of land including sub-divisions or the development of new business or industrial estates.

  • Does it affect me?

    The Planning Scheme has the potential to affect all Gold Coast City residents. This normally happens when residents either lodge a development proposal or a development proposal is advertised in their vicinity. Council encourages residents to have their say now to provide input into the new Planning Scheme. By doing so residents can ensure that the long-term development of the Gold Coast aligns with their expectations.

  • Is Council required to have a Planning Scheme?

    Yes. Every Council in Queensland must have a Planning Scheme.

  • Why is Council looking to update its current Planning Scheme?

    Council is required to update its Planning Scheme every 10 years. On this occasion the development of a new Planning Scheme is also a Council Bold Future Vision strategic priority.

  • Can I have a say in the development of the new Planning Scheme?

    Yes. In fact, Council strongly encourages all residents to have a say. At various stages throughout the development of the new planning scheme, Council will invite residents to provide their ideas and feedback. Watch out for opportunities to have your say!

  • How can I get confirmation from Council that my development will be self assessable?

    Self assessable development does not require a development application to be lodged, however relevant codes must be complied with.

    Council will provide information sheets and checklists for the most common self assessable developments eg detached dwellings in residential areas, shops and offices in commercial areas and industries in industrial areas.

    The onus is on the developer to ensure they comply with the self assessable requirements (the acceptable solutions of the relevant codes). If the stated acceptable solutions are not complied with, the development is deemed to require code assessment (except in those instances where the Table of Development makes it clear that Council will treat it as impact assessable).

    Council will provide a service where a development proposal is checked against the self assessable requirements, and a letter will be issued stating the level of compliance achieved. A fee will attach to this service. This will be the subject of a report to Council prior to the commencement date.

  • Will code assessable development be refused by Council officers if all acceptable solutions are not met, with no further recourse to Council?

    Section 3.5.13 of the IPA sets out relevant provisions for the consideration of code assessable development.

    Code assessable developments do not have to comply with every acceptable solution, indeed it is expected that an alternative solution may be proposed by the applicant.

    The application should be able to demonstrate compliance with all relevant Performance Criteria (PC). In some cases a specific PC might be argued by the applicant to be not relevant to the subject development. Alternatively a case might be made that while the proposal conflicts with a specific and relevant PC, the development will still meet the purpose of the code and should be approved.

    Obviously any significant departures from the applicable codes are likely to be refused. While Council does have some discretion under IPA to approve development that conflicts with applicable codes, there must be sufficient grounds to do so having regard to the purpose of the code and relevant State planning policies, and the decision must not compromise the achievement of desired environmental outcomes for the planning scheme area.

    The existing system of delegations is to be retained i.e. most applications will continue to be dealt with under delegation.

  • How will impact assessable development be assessed against the whole planning scheme?

    Section 3.5.14 of the IPA sets out relevant provisions for the consideration of impact assessable development.

    Impact assessable developments will be assessed in a similar way to code assessable applications. The main difference is that the assessment is undertaken having regard to a more extensive range of matters as required by section 3.5.5(2) of IPA, including the planning scheme (not limited to the applicable codes), submissions accepted by Council during the notification stage of IDAS, and any development approval for and any lawful use of adjacent premises.

    An impact assessable application that conflicts with the planning scheme may still be approved, if sufficient planning grounds (ie. benefits) are demonstrated that justify approval despite the conflict. In determining the question of conflict and sufficient planning grounds, a sensible, practical and purposive approach is to be taken which examines the proposal on its merits in the overall context of the planning scheme.

    Council’s discretion to approve an application despite conflict where there are sufficient planning grounds is, however, limited by the requirement in IPA that the decision must not compromise the achievement of the Desired Environmental Outcomes for the planning scheme area.

  • How will the Land Development Guidelines apply?

    The Land Development Guidelines have been adopted by Council as a planning scheme policy. Planning scheme policies, which are a type of local planning instrument under IPA, are statutory instruments and have the force of law.

    There is a “Works For Infrastructure” specific development code included in the new scheme that cross references to the various elements of the Land Development Guidelines.

    As the Land Development Guidelines are updated the planning scheme will be amended to reflect those updates.

  • If a code requirement says there is ‘no acceptable solution provided’, what does this mean?

    Sometimes there is no single measurable ‘acceptable solution’ for a particular performance criterion. This does not mean there is no solution; instead it means that there are many different ways of addressing the criterion and that it is not helpful to favour just one. In such cases, Council prefers to use the term ‘no acceptable solution provided’ to indicate that the applicant will have to nominate and justify their own solution to that performance criterion.

  • Does a Plan Of Development (POD) approved under one of the former Planning Scheme still apply?

    The answer to this question depends upon what type of approval the POD is attached to, when it was made, and whether the development has commenced or not. The following points may help: If the development has commenced, consistent with Section 1.4.3 of IPA, then all conditions, including any POD, remain valid. If the POD is included under a condition of a planning permit that has not yet expired, it remains valid, even though the development may not yet have commenced.

    (Note: This only applies to developments approved under the P&E Act, approved in 1990. Development Permits approved earlier than 1990 are not protected by IPA)

    If the POD is covered by a condition of a rezoning but the development has not commenced, then it has most likely expired, unless that specific development has been individually listed in Part 10, Division 3, Special Facilities.

  • Can a developer ignore a valid Plan Of Development (POD) and instead use new rights afforded by the new Gold Coast Planning Scheme?

    Where the new planning scheme allows greater flexibility than an existing approval, there is of course the opportunity to take advantage of the new planning standards for a whole new development. However, care must be taken where only part of a development is proposed to be modified: The developer must ensure that any change to the original conditions of approval does not cause the whole development to be in breach of the original permit.

  • If my residential lot is shown on Overlay Map OM10 Potential Bushfire Hazard Areas as having areas of high or moderate fire hazard and this is no longer the case, do I need to apply for a code assessable planning permit to construct a detached dwelling?

    No, provided that the residential lot was created by a residential subdivision approved under one of the superseded planning schemes. In that case, it is inferred that the bushfire hazard of the subject site was properly considered as part of the original subdivision approval. Although, a new planning permit is not required for a detached dwelling, conditions of the original subdivision approval must be complied with. A property search should be undertaken to identify constraints resulting from the original subdivision approval including any conditions that need to be complied with as part of the building application.

  • My residential lot is shown on Overlay Map OM20 Conservation Strategy and is designated as a Large Habitat System/Major Linkage and if this is no longer the case, do I need to apply for a code assessable planning permit to construct a detached dwelling?

    No, provided that the residential lot was created by a residential subdivision approved under one of the superseded planning schemes. In that case, it is inferred that the nature conservation values were properly considered as part of the original subdivision approval. Although a new planning permit is not required for a detached dwelling that is connected to sewerage reticulation, all requirements of the original subdivision approval must be complied with. A property search should be undertaken to identify constraints resulting from the original subdivision approval including any conditions that need to be complied with as part of the building application

  • Is my land use an Educational Establishment use or an Indoor Recreation use?

    If you are teaching academic subjects and your land use is a school, college, tertiary education, business school, or music school it is defined as an Educational Establishment use. If your land use involves teaching a sport or other activity within a building such as martial arts, swimming or dancing, it is defined as an Indoor Recreation use. As a general rule any recreational activity that involves instruction is an Indoor Recreation use.