In this recent decision, the Planning and Environment Court dismissed a submitter appeal against an approval for a three storey apartment building located on Donaldson Street, Greenslopes. The proposed development had initially been approved by Brisbane City Council, but the approval was appealed to the Planning and Environment Court by a group of local residents.

Thynne + Macartney acted on behalf of the successful developer in the appeal.


The proposed development was an attractively designed building with a Gross Floor Area (GFA) of 1479m2. The subject site had an area of 1349m2 (109% GFA). The proposal, in terms of GFA was twice as dense as the applicable acceptable solution in the Low-medium Density Residential (LMR) area, outlined in CityPlan 2000 and CityPlan 2014. Notably, the surrounding streets had a mixture of single and two storey detached houses as well as various two and three storey multi-unit dwellings. The proposed development was well located in close proximity to prominent community infrastructure, including Greenslopes Mall, Greenslopes Private Hospital and major public transport routes.


The primary issue in the appeal was whether the proposed development’s building form, through its height, bulk and scale was in conflict with the Holland Park Tarragindi District Local Plan (the Local Plan) and the Low Medium Density Residential Zone Code (the LMR Code) in CityPlan 2000 and the equivalent in CityPlan 2014.


The Court found that the height, bulk and scale of the proposed development complied with the Intent and Overall Outcomes of the Local Plan and the LMR Code. Specifically, the Court found that the surrounding locality supported the proposal as there were several three storey multi-unit developments in the neighbourhood.

The Court also found that whilst the proposed development significantly exceeded the GFA requirement of 50% to 60% stipulated in the Intent of the LMR Code, this was only one factor to be considered as opposed to being determinative of any conflict. The Court took comfort from several other developments within the locality of the proposed development having similar GFA’s to the proposed development. Ultimately, the Court determined that there was no conflict with the relevant provisions in the LMR Code.

In summary, the Court found that from a reading of CityPlan 2000 and CityPlan 2014 as a whole, the proposed development complied with the applicable planning instruments because the proposed development was compatible with other built form in the locality.

What the decision means

The decision is of great assistance to property developers arguing against a strict adherence or narrow interpretation by Council’s assessment officers of the relevant bulk, height and scale provisions in both CityPlan 2000 and CityPlan 2014. While the references in both planning schemes to maximum heights, number of storeys, maximum GFA and setback requirements are important factors to be taken into account when assessing the suitability of a proposed development, other factors, such as the built form of existing developments in the locality and the aspiration to ensure that surrounding infrastructure is used as efficiently as possible, will also be fundamental considerations.

This information is intended to provide a general summary only and should not be relied on as a substitute for legal advice.

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