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Protection increased for heritage buildings in Queensland, Australia

The Queensland government has introduced new legislation to protect heritage buildings in the state with the maximum penalty for development offences increased from AU$202,963 ($149,000) to AU$548,550 ($404,000).15 May 2017

Minister for infrastructure and planning Jackie Trad said the new laws make it clear that local government planning approval is required before building approvals can be issued, including when "character" houses are to be demolished.

"This legislation will better protect our cherished heritage places for future generations and ensure that we do not lose historic homes at the stroke of a pen," Trad said.

"We have seen several incidents of private certifiers signing off on inappropriate demolitions. These laws deliver tougher penalties that will assist in stamping out this practice," she said.

A temporary local planning instrument made by a council will now apply with immediate effect so that it can be used to protect buildings from inappropriate demolition. Trad said.

The new law is designed to prevent unlawful approvals being issued before local government planning approval, she said.

The increased penalties were due to come into effect in July but this has been brought forward to ensure the immediate protection of the character of communities, Trad said.

A further change to the regulations will prevent the planning and environment court from bringing costs against community members who challenge developments, Trad said.

"When the LNP [Liberal National Party] stripped the community of this legal right in 2012, it meant unscrupulous developers could threaten local communities with a costs order to avoid legitimate appeals against development that does not comply with a council’s town plan. Queenslanders can once again appeal planning decisions without the fear of having hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs awarded against them," she said.