This thesis examines the effectiveness of Queensland strategic planning in relation to environmental considerations. At present, the local authority strategic plan, which earmarks areas of preferred dominant land use, is the major tool for forward planning of a local authority area. The role of the planning profession in soundly determining the future land use/s of areas is foremost. However, the natural environment has suffered extensive deterioration due to the impact of humankind. More particularly, the lack of sustainable and effective forward planning has allowed areas of environmental significance to be damaged or destroyed. This is partly the result of poorly prepared strategic planning documents in terms of their environmental input and methodologies employed. Consequently problems arise when the strategic plan is implemented, especially in areas of environmental significance. This is due, in part, to uninformed planning decisions.
The approach to the existing strategic plan preparation process has been largely treated in an ad-hoc and 'top down’ manner. In order to reduce the inherent problems of strategic planning in Queensland, a review of local authority strategic plans in south-east Queensland exposed the extent and types of shortcomings at the local authority level.
Thus, the need for responsive and implementable strategic planning, in terms of its ability to respond to a changing environment is evident. However, environmental considerations have largely failed to be incorporated into the strategic planning process. Such issues need to be addressed at the beginning of the strategic plan process in a comprehensive manner. Furthermore, a clear and flexible methodology needs to be incorporated into the strategic planning framework. By doing so, the incidence of environmental conflicts and blunders can be minimised.
To achieve more effective forward planning in terms of environmental considerations, an operational model for strategic planning was developed. The model provides a means to safeguard environmentally significant areas from unsuitable development. The model aims to assist the planning profession to develop more effective strategic plans by being both flexible and implementable. The model incorporates seven main phases ranging from the preliminary phase to an assessment of data requirements and an environmental planning analysis focussing on constraints and opportunities, to the implementation phase. The operational model was developed in a generalised manner for wider application, being sensitive to the cost and time constraints of councils.
While application of the model is beyond the aims of this thesis, its applicability to the Queensland planning system provides a valuable tool to improve the effectiveness of strategic planning with regards to environmental considerations.