Proposed citywide amendment - planning scheme policy - Amendment package Q

Brisbane is a great place to live, work and relax. To ensure our friendly and liveable city continues to thrive and Brisbane City Plan 2014 (City Plan) remains effective and up-to-date, Brisbane City Council is proposing an amendment to provide greater guidance about subtropical design with Amendment package Q (proposed amendment package).

City Plan includes planning scheme policies (PSP) to provide further information, guidance and advice to the development industry and community about how the outcomes in development codes can be achieved.

The proposed Amendment package Q includes a new Subtropical building design PSP to:

  • provide additional guidance and greater clarity on the existing design requirements for new multi-residential and commercial development and buildings, to best respond to our subtropical climate and meet the community's expectations
  • capitalise on the success of the New World City Design Guide - Buildings that Breathe (the guide) by translating the design elements into the proposed PSP to apply to more building typologies in more locations in the city
  • help ensure new development delivers a clean, green and sustainable Brisbane now and into the future.

The proposed amendment package is following the ‘making or amending a planning scheme policy’ process as outlined in the Queensland Government’s Minister's Guidelines and Rules.

Proposed changes

The changes proposed to City Plan in Amendment package Q are summarised below.

The full details of the proposed amendment can be found on City Plan online.

Subtropical building design planning scheme policy

The new Subtropical building design PSP capitalises on the success of Council’s New World City Design Guide - Buildings that Breathe that has guided high-quality subtropical design outcomes for new development in the inner city of Brisbane. The new PSP will translate design elements from the guide and demonstrate how they can be applied more broadly to additional building typologies across more locations to help deliver a truly subtropical city.

The new PSP aims to support and streamline the assessment of development against existing development codes in City Plan, specifically in relation to existing subtropical building design assessment benchmarks. It will provide additional guidance for the development industry on different ways to achieve the subtropical design outcomes already required by City Plan. The PSP will support assessment against the:

  • Community facilities code
  • Centre or mixed use code
  • Multiple dwelling code
  • Retirement and residential care facility code
  • Specialised centre code
  • Landscape work code
  • Subdivision code.

Subtropical design themes and elements addressed in the new PSP are summarised below.

Orient yourself

Orient yourself is about locating and orientating buildings and outdoor spaces to respond to, and capitalise, on a site’s local climatic conditions (such as solar access and breezes) and the surrounding urban environment to achieve subtropical design outcomes.

Internal layout is also an important consideration for overall building mass, to reduce solar gain and allow for natural daylight and ventilation inside the building.

Street activation is the final consideration of this design element, to ensure that buildings provide a visual and physical connection between the public and private realm and support the creation of spaces and places that allow people to enjoy our subtropical character.

Occupy outdoor spaces

Occupy outdoor spaces is about design elements that can feature in new development to celebrate and increase connections to the outdoors, which is a big part of our subtropical lifestyle.

City rooms provide places for people to meet, with access to natural daylight and ventilation and generous subtropical planting to animate the private and public realm.

Sky terraces are elevated outdoor spaces and provide opportunities for passive and active recreation.

Private open spaces and balconies give building occupants a personal outdoor connection and help to articulate the built form and facilitate opportunities for natural daylight and ventilation into homes and workplaces.

Atriums found internally or on the edge of building floorplates allow natural daylight into buildings and facilitate easy movement through internal spaces.

Recessed podiums allow the street verge to enter below the floorplate of the building, giving a sense of a spacious public realm, and provide generous subtropical landscaping to improve local amenity and enhance our identity.

Movement and site connectivity is at the core of new development providing functional movement networks that improve activation and legibility.

Natural daylight and ventilation

Natural daylight and ventilation is about designing buildings to make the most of Brisbane’s average of 300 'comfortable' days each year.

Providing access to natural daylight and facilitating air movement reduces the need for artificial lighting and mechanical methods for heating and cooling, creating more energy-efficient buildings and enjoyable spaces for people to live and work.

This element looks at how building setbacks and separation distances, as well as fine grain details such as glazing, light wells and operable elements can contribute to well lit and ventilated internal spaces.

Shade and protection

Shade and protection acknowledges that Brisbane’s celebrated climate occasionally delivers some harsh conditions, be it torrential rainfall or hot summer sun. The design of our buildings and outdoor spaces should shade and protect us while we live, work and play.

This design element identifies ways in which building occupants can be protected from our climate at all levels of the building, from the ground floor to the upper storeys, while also contributing to the architectural design excellence of buildings and outdoor spaces.

Living greenery

Living greenery is an important design element for new development to incorporate generous subtropical landscaping that complements the architectural design, benefits the microclimate, supports the function, and contributes to the creation of attractive and comfortable spaces that people can enjoy visiting and using.

In addition to traditional landscaping at the ground plane, there are other creative ways to incorporate subtropical planting into the urban environment. This includes vertical greenery and elevated gardens which benefit not just the building occupants but enrich our urban experience and contribute to a city profile that is open, green and subtropical.

Identity matters

Identity matters is an acknowledgement that our buildings and outdoor spaces are an expression and celebration of our city’s history, culture and identity as well as our subtropical lifestyle.

Consideration should be given to this in the material selection, construction and finishes of buildings and outdoor spaces that respect our past and look to our future.

The creative use of public art and lighting can further assist in new development making a positive contribution to our city’s subtropical identity and lifestyle by creating spaces and places that people enjoy visiting day and night.

Reduce energy and waste

Reduce energy and waste is about exploring opportunities to showcase innovative technology, best practice sustainability and subtropical design in new development. The use of technology can support the optimal function and operation of our buildings and complements the subtropical design features covered in the other design elements.

The use of technologies to support sustainable development is encouraged to consider energy supply for a building, waste and water systems, and active transport access and facilities for building occupants.

To find out more about the subtropical design themes and elements addressed in the new PSP, refer to the fact sheet:

Community consultation

Public consultation on the proposed amendment package has closed.

Council’s proposed amendment package was open for public consultation from 17 November to 15 December 2023.

Following the submission review period, Council will write to everyone who has made a properly made submission on the proposed changes and will publish a copy of the consultation report online.

Note, due to caretaker conventions in place ahead of the local government elections in March 2024, Council will not be in a position to respond to submitters until after the election.


Mid-late 2023Preparation and drafting of amendment package
14 November 2023Council proposed to amend City Plan
17 November - 15 December 2023Public consultation including an opportunity to have your say on the proposed changes
Late 2023 - mid-2024Submissions review
Mid 2024Council adoption and gazettal

Other City Plan amendments

You may be interested to view details on other proposed amendments to City Plan.

Register for updates

To stay informed about City Plan, including proposed amendments and to receive other Council planning and building updates, you can register for email updates.

More information

For more information about the proposed amendment you can:

  • email the project team
  • phone Council on 07 3403 8888
  • write to:
    Strategic Planning
    City Planning and Economic Development
    Brisbane City Council
    GPO Box 1434
    Brisbane Qld 4001.
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