Making it easier to do business in Brisbane

Brisbane City Plan 2014 (City Plan) has been developed by Brisbane City Council in consultation with the community to support a simple, fast and clear development assessment process. The plan guides how land in Brisbane can be used and developed to support economic growth, while protecting our city’s character and natural assets. 

Brisbane’s thriving economy is driving our city’s growth. Our enviable lifestyle, infrastructure and global connections are attracting investors, entrepreneurs and skilled workers to do business in our city. As outlined in the Brisbane Economic Development Plan 2012-2031, Council’s vision is for Brisbane to be regarded as a top-10 lifestyle city by 2031, and a global hub for resources and related service industries. It will be known for its high-performing economy and strong business and cultural links with Asia. 

A key driver for Council’s Brisbane City Plan 2014 is to support Brisbane’s economic growth and make it easier to do business by:

  • linking economic precincts to workers and residents
  • supporting emerging business sectors
  • protecting major industrial areas
  • supporting small businesses and start-ups
  • cutting red tape and saving small businesses time  and money.

This factsheet provides you with an overview of the tools  and services available to you as a business owner and explains how the City Plan makes it easier to do business in Brisbane.

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Linking economic precincts to workers and residents 

Brisbane’s thriving economy is driving the city’s growth. Jobs in metro Brisbane are growing faster than the population. Overall, Brisbane will need to accommodate an estimated additional 443,000 new jobs by 2031 (metro Brisbane). A number of these new jobs will be located in the city’s key economic precincts: Brisbane’s City Centre and Major centre zones (such as Chermside, Upper Mt Gravatt and Toowong) and key industrial areas such as the Australia Trade Coast. These centres are located within major transport corridors and are easily accessed by businesses, workers and residents. City Plan makes it easy for businesses to locate in these centres. 

Supporting emerging business sectors 

Brisbane is an innovation hub for emerging sectors such as aviation and aerospace, information and digital technologies, professional and scientific services, mining services, advanced manufacturing and creative industries. The City Plan supports these knowledge-based industries by encouraging them to co-locate and cluster around universities, hospitals, arts and cultural centres and other major institutions.This helps to maximise the use of transport infrastructure and encourage more businesses to locate in these areas. Co-location also promotes the sharing of information, collaboration and innovation.

Protecting major industrial areas 

Brisbane’s industry is growing. By 2031, it is expected that employment across Brisbane’s major industry areas will grow by more than 40,000 jobs.

To support this growth, City Plan:

  • protects major industrial areas by preventing  non-compatible activities
  • clearly outlines which industrial activities can occur across the city and where
  • guides new heavy industries to locate in suitable areas away from sensitive uses
  • improves workforce amenity and access to goods and services for workers in major industrial areas.

Supporting small businesses and start-ups 

In December 2013, small companies with a workforce of fewer than 20 people represented 95% of all Brisbane companies. small-scale businesses need affordable premises with good access to their customers and transport.

The City Plan supports small businesses and start-ups by allowing them to locate in Centre zones and, where appropriate, low impact Industry zones. The City Plan allows for markets in centres and major parks and also provides residents with greater opportunity to operate home businesses.

Running markets under City Plan

Council recognises markets as an activity that supports our city’s economy and can be run in certain land use zones identified in Brisbane City Plan 2014. These zones include the Centre and Mixed use, Community facilities, Open space and sport and recreation zones. In most cases, if the site identified for a market is within one of these zones, and does not include establishing permanent structures or undertaking earthworks, a development application may not need to be made to Council. To identify the zone of a proposed location markets are to be established in, refer to Council’s interactive mapping tool.

To establish or relocate a market you may also require permits from Council. Permits issued by Council are based on the size, frequency and activities proposed for a market. Contact Council to find out what permits may be required.

Cutting red tape and saving you time and money 

City Plan makes it easier for you to do business in Brisbane. It provides a simple and fast development assessment process and gives you up-front information on what you can and cannot do with your property. In many instances, your application may be subject to a straight-forward assessment process (code-assessment), or you may not need to submit a development application at all (accepted development, subject to requirements). It is important to note infrastructure charges for accepted development, subject to requirements industrial development may still apply.

The City Plan also allows you to submit your development application online using Council’s elodgement. for help with preparing your eLodgement application, visit and search for ‘eLodgement’. 

Council has introduced a number of fast-track initiatives to help reduce holding costs and processing times.

  • RiskSMART: A fast and simple way to have low-risk development applications approved within five working days. Your application must be prepared, lodged and certified by a Council-accredited RisksMART consultant
  • AssessSMART: A process for low-risk applications. Provided you lodge all the correct information with your application, the approval process can be streamlined for a quicker decision time of 20 working days.
  • SealSMART: This service fast-tracks the approval of subdivision survey plans where accredited consultants certify that your application complies with Council’s requirements. Council will generally approve the survey plans within five working days.
  • PlumbSMART: This service responds to construction industry requests for quicker approvals for plumbing applications and applies to Class 1a buildings. Provided you lodge all the required information, a notice to Commence Work will be issued within 2 working days.

By providing all the necessary information with your application, approval times are reduced, enabling your project to start sooner.

Council also has an ongoing process of business improvement to identify and improve other Council approval processes  to assist businesses in our city.

How can Council help your business? 

Council has a number of initiatives to help you with your business.

  • 133 BNE: Council’s dedicated hotline will help you with your business-related queries. The hotline operates  24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Brisbane Community profiles: An online tool to provide you with accurate and up-to-date social, economic and demographic information for any area in Brisbane. This will help you to understand your local customers, make informed, strategic decisions and identify new areas  to grow your business.
  • Pre-lodgement service: Council’s pre-lodgement service allows you to meet with a Council officer to ask questions, explore options and confirm requirements before finalising and lodging your development application. The service is available for a fee and can also be done using video conferencing.

Find out more information about Brisbane City Plan 2014 online or phone Council on 07 3403 8888 or 133 Bne (133 263) for business enquiries.

If you would like to be kept up to date with future services and general planning and development in the city, you can register your details by emailing the team.

Disclaimer: The content of this information sheet is a summary and has been prepared to help the reader understand the City Plan. Please refer to the full City Plan document, titled Brisbane City Plan 2014, on Council’s website for further detail.

Last updated:10 May 2019