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QLD Development

What is a ‘Change application’

So you’ve got your PropertEASE report, you’ve engaged a town planner and they’ve got your approval for 3 townhouses from Local Council, but now you want to change the roof form and add on an extra balcony along the back. What do you need to do?

One of the town planners from Steffan Town Planning  (Joshua Bosnic) had a look at exactly what a Change application is and how it will impact you:


The Introduction of the Planning Act 2016 brought with it a new approach to development assessment. Some new terminology was introduced as a part of this new planning legislation. Where looking to alter an approval, a Change Application for a ‘Minor change’ (s81) or ‘Other change’ (s82) was introduced. This is required where a condition of the existing approval is changed, even if the only change is providing new plans for assessment with no other conditions affected.


Basically, a minor change is a change to the existing approval that does not result in substantially different development, create a new referral or require public notification where it wasn’t already required.

If you’re asking yourself ‘what is substantially different development?’ don’t worry because the Development Assessment Rules under the Planning Act 2016 have provided a checklist.

A change may be considered to result in a substantially different development if the proposed change:

  • involve a new use; or
  • result in the development application applying to a new parcel of land; or
  • dramatically change the built form in terms of scale, bulk and appearance; or
  • change the ability of the proposed development to operate as intended; or
  • remove a component that is integral to the operation of the development; or
  • significantly impact on traffic flow and the transport network, such as
  • increasing traffic to the site; or
  • introduce new impacts or increase the severity of known impacts; or
  • remove an incentive or offset component that would have balanced a negative impact of the development; or
  • impact on infrastructure provisions.

Where it can be justified that the above criteria are not met, the proposal is considered to be a Minor change. As the Minor change has a substantially different test, the development industry finds it comparable to Permissible Change under the previous regime.


The benefit of obtaining a Minor change in place of an ‘Other change’ is the reduced timeframe for assessment, being 20 business days. Also, Council fees tend to be cheaper so that’s always a bonus.


An Other change is a change application that is not considered a minor change. What does this mean though? Well, if the above criteria for a Minor change aren’t met then an application becomes an Other change. This is a completely new concept as under previous legislation, where an application was not a permissible change a new development Application was required.

It I also worth mentioning that the timeframes imposed on the assessment manager are the same as a normal development application. The advantages of an ‘Other change’ is in instances where you already have approval but you want to change one particular component, by doing an ‘Other change’ it will restrict Councils assessment to that particular change. For example, if you wish to build one storey higher, Council will only be assessing the change in height, and not any other setbacks…etc.


Okay… Great… The Government has created a new approval method and some more terminology for me to remember… How does that affect me?

Well, if you are proposing changes to an approved use on your site and there is documentation available regarding the previous approval, you will be required to make a Change application in place of a development application. In doing so, knowing how to avoid an Other change can save you or your clients valuable time and money.

You can figure this out by either contacting Council and explaining everything for them but you may get a generic answer. Otherwise you should contact a private consultant planner who can thoroughly analyse your proposal and advise you of the correct path for approval.


Article originally posted here: 

Author: Alex Steffan

Bachelor of Urban and Environmental Planning – Steffan Town Planning – 10+ years experience as a private consultant town planner.