Emerging governance frameworks in the planning and development of master planned communities (MPCs) in South East Queensland (SEQ).

Project: Research

Project Details


Master planned communities (MPCs) are typically large-scale housing developments that feature mixed, integrated land uses. They have become a distinctive development form in shaping South East Queensland’s urban fringes; with examples including Forest Lake, Springfield, Ripley Valley and Yarrabilba. The governance of MPCs during each development stage (i.e. planning, implementation and completion/ongoing administration) typically involves varying degrees of public regulation/ intervention, developer input and community engagement. Previously, three broad governance structures of SEQ MPCs were identified and discussed by Bajracharya et al. (2007) - single developer model, principal developer model and government-led model. Since then, however, there have been significant changes to Queensland’s planning and development systems. In particular, MPCs considered by the state to be of high significance can now be deemed as “Priority Development Areas” (PDAs). These are managed separately at state level (by Economic Development Queensland) and facilitated under the Economic Development Act 2012 rather than by Queensland’s traditional land use planning system. There have also been other contextual agreements regarding development and infrastructure provision to support particular MPCs (e.g. Greater Springfield).

The nature and efficacy of contemporary governance frameworks for MPCs in South East Queensland has not been critically analysed or evaluated under Queensland’s prevailing planning and economic development frameworks. This defines a critical research gap, given the multiplying presence of large MPCs in the SEQ landscape and their importance as a tool for sustainably addressing the region’s population growth under South East Queensland’s growth management strategy (Shaping SEQ).

This research will review, conceptualise, analyse, compare and evaluate a sample range of current governance models and mechanisms that are currently directing the planning, implementation and completion (including handover to local councils) stages of MPC development. A focus will be on the efficacy of governance to realise socially sustainable and resilient communities as an ongoing outcome. There is also particular interest in considering MPC planning and development relationships with local planning processes and the wider SEQ regional plan.

The methodological approach for the initial study is to compare MPC case studies that represent broadly alternate models of governance – i.e. under local government management (Varsity Lakes), managed as a PDA (Yarrabilba) and managed under other special agreements (Greater Springfield). These MPCs have not been previously studied in this research context. Thematic, critical analyses and evaluations can be qualitatively but systematically effected via an analytical framework based on both approaches from existing, evaluative literature (e.g. Stein et al 2017) and principles of planning ‘best practice’ advocated by the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA, https://www.planning.org.au/policy/what-is-good-planning-0913). Data collection can be effected using publicly available sources (i.e. planning and development documentation, legislation/ policy) supplemented by personal interviews with stakeholders as necessary for data clarification, augmentation and/or triangulation.

Existing literature provides a conceptual basis for the research. The nature, planning and governance of MPCs in Australia and elsewhere has been conceptualised and discussed. Effective governance has emerged as a key factor in achieving communities that are active and interactive, diverse, well serviced, distinctive and therefore functioning, sustainable, distinctive and resilient.

Project Aims

The research aims to:

1. Review and conceptualise the range of contemporary governance models and mechanisms evidenced in a selection of South East Queensland (SEQ) master planned communities (MPCs) across the stages of development

2. Evaluate the identified MPC governance models and mechanisms against current Australian ‘best practice’ principles for land use planning

3. Critically analyse the relative efficacy of identified MPC governance models and mechanisms in achieving socially sustainable and resilient communities that are coherent with local and regional landscape planning objectives

4. Synthesise conclusions and recommendations regarding contemporary SEQ MPC governance in the research context.

Effective start/end date1/06/201/06/21