Land Grab: Logan Planning Changes Pave Way for Development

Updates to the City of Logan Planning Scheme adopted this week are aimed at “closing loopholes”, as the city looks to attract higher quality developments.

The latest changes will provide further guidance to developers following a community engagement process as the satellite city attempts to attract “good developments in the right places”.

Amendments were introduced covering housing lot specifications, location guidance for healthcare developments, and clarifications for mixed-use developments.

Logan City Councillor and planning chair Jon Raven says the changes will provide clarity on what the city wants to see within its limits, as some schemes, particularly residential, have not provided the diversity they are looking for. 

“We’ve identified a problem in previous schemes and have started working really proactively to meet community expectations and industry desires.

“We want to make it easy for developers to know what they’re competing against and offer high quality developments for the area.”

Director of Steffan Town Planning and member of Logan Development technical subcommittee Alexander Steffan says that the changes are a mixed bag and it is unclear whether they will improve the landscape for developers.

“The amendments have been in the works for almost a year and I don’t think a lot of the amendments will have a huge impact,” he says.

“The bigger amendments, which will have the most impact are in the residential zones, mainly the suburban zones, as they have removed the need for average lot sizes and requirement for equivalent dwelling ratios.”

Changes to residential

On low density small lots, the council had previously stipulated a 350sq m average lot size, with a 500sq m average for suburban areas, 600 sq m for low density village and 5000sq m average for rural residential lots. 

As a result, some projects were accused of taking advantage of the rule by having one large balance lot to offset much smaller lots.

The changes made this week mean that the average lot size requirements will be scrapped, says Raven.

“It’s about diversity in mixed lots, to avoid that artificial expansion of lots, which was never the intention of the plan” he says.

“We knew we’d see lots of residential because there was the need for housing even before the latest boom, but we wanted to see diversity.

“What we were getting was developments where everything looked similar, when it came to exteriors and lot sizes.”

▲ Logan City has been gearing up for growth and named its first Economic Development Zone, Springwood, in 2017.

Planner Alexander Steffan says these changes will open up land for development and change the way developers approach residential in Logan.

“Logan is aligning its low density provisions to around where it is in much of the rest of Queensland,” he says.

“It’s opened up a little more opportunity for development, especially when you come into those medium scale sites.

“We’ve already had a couple of inquiries where last week I would have said no you can’t, but this week you can.”

Where we will see the biggest effect are in the larger subdivisions, Steffan says.

“You won’t be able to offset your lot sizes with a big balance lot, which will create some issues, and you can’t stack a lot of small lots together to increase your yield, you’ll have to have different lot widths and sizes.

“That’s what they want, they want a big range of housing styles throughout.”

Healthcare and mixed-use

With a population expected to exceed 500,000 in the next 18 years, provisions for well-situated healthcare and childcare as well as business and jobs precincts will be essential, and the amendments aim to guide this development, Raven says.

“We saw issues where healthcare and childcare centres were popping up in unusual settings, such as low density residential areas.

“Because of previous issues in the planning scheme, we were seeing unusual schemes in inappropriate areas, which were creating challenges for operators because they were having to meet expectations of the community with traffic and noise, and creating distress in the community.

“People didn’t realize when buying houses in purely residential areas that they would have a healthcare or childcare centre built next door, so this makes it clearer for both parties.” 

▲ Healthcare is an area of opportunity in Logan with a number of healthcare developments in the works including Northwest’s latest project.

Healthcare has been a major area of growth in Logan, with developer Northwest recently progressing plans to build a private healthcare centre in Meadowbrook, and the changes with regards to healthcare also cover certain uses. 

“If you have a rehabilitation treatment clinic, for example, you want them near public transport, not necessarily in suburbia,” Raven says.

“From an investment point of view, it’s making it clearer where the council wants to see it, and where you’ll be welcomed by the city and neighbourhood.”

The changes also ensure the inclusion of new industry, retail, enterprise and abattoir precincts in mixed-use zones to ensure that intended land use is clear.

“The mixed use zone changes address the overcomplexity of that zoning. It had too many uses, and it was difficult for an investor or developer to understand the council’s intentions.

“It wasn’t easy when designing the city, so we have made it easier for investors to know what we want there and so they can target their investment wisely.”

Planning in Logan

However, issues with planning could run deeper than has been highlighted in this week’s changes.

“Over the past year, my personal experience in planning in Logan is that councils become very conservative in what they approve,” Steffan says.

“They would prefer for you to comply than present a better outcome. If you present something new, innovative and different, they are knocking it back to something they are familiar with.”

While the changes mark a positive step, there is clearly a way to go before Logan is on the same page with planners and developers as it attempts to capitalise on the increase in development interest around south-east Queensland by making the satellite city approachable for development.

▲ Logan Council wants to attract more high-value industry jobs to the area.

Councill Raven acknowledged that amendments needed to be made.

“We’re really looking forward to the new planning scheme, ensuring we’re streamlining it, and ensuring faster turnaround times, while still keeping the needs of community and environment in balance, that’s what planning is all about.”

He encouraged developers to aim higher with future developments.

“We’re looking for investment that creates jobs. We have lots of logistics and transport investment, but that provides a low number of jobs per sq m, which isn’t great.

“We’d like to see high-value job investment. Were doing a business case on an innovation precinct in Underwood where we are looking at one job per 40 or 50 sq m, so it is better utilised land.

“Those jobs create other jobs in other industries which support those high value jobs and that’s what we’re looking for.

“We’re the fastest-growing city in Queensland and we want people who live in Logan to be able to work in the area too.”

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