Referral Agencies

Referral Agencies

When a referral agency becomes involved in your assessment process for your development application, it can result in unexpected costs, unplanned re-designs, and delays for your application approval. All of which can significantly affect your proposed development. To prevent such frustrations talk to your town planner or building certifier and determine if a referral is required before you submit your application. Here is The Oil Stone’s brief explanation on Referral Agencies.

Referral Agencies are state departments or organisations that hold an interest in particular developments. For example, say your proposed development requires a Material Change of Use (MCU) application and the property is located within 25m of a state-controlled road. The Department of Transport and Main Roads would have a vested interest in your project and would, therefore, become a referral agency with a say in the outcome.



There are two types of agencies to consider: concurrence agencies and advice agencies. Both agencies have the power to provide conditions or advice that an assessment manager will attach to a development approval. However, only a concurrence agency has the power to request, if it is within the limits of the referral agency’s jurisdiction, that an assessment manager refuse the development.

In the previous example, the Department of Transport and Main Roads would typify as a Concurrence Agency, and they would have the ability to request the assessment manager to refuse an application should the proposal not meet their traffic assessment requirements.

For this project, it has also been identified the property is situated within 100m of a substation site for the purpose of electricity supply. The chief executive of the electricity supply company, for example, Ergon Energy, would become an Advice Agency. This means they would have the power to advise and suggest conditions for the development’s approval, but ultimately the power for refusal would lay with the assessment manager. In this development case, both a concurrence agency and advice agency would need to be notified of the proposed development.

Agencies also have the ability to issue an Information Request, which can be frustrating for the developer. When a referral agency becomes involved in the assessment process, the time for your application’s approval could increase by an additional 30 business days.



Referral Agencies can be involved with both, building applications with a private certifier as well as planning applications with your local council. You can determine possible involvement by using the Queensland Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning DA mapping system, in conjunction with Schedule 7 of the Planning Regulation 2017.

If the development does require a referral it is the applicant’s responsibility to provide a full copy of the application, along with a copy of the assessment manager’s issued Acknowledgement Notice, to the relevant referral agencies.



The Planning Regulation 2017 stipulates development assessment fees for State Referral Agencies. Previously some agencies, such as the Department of Transport and Main Roads and the Department of Natural Resources and Mines, did not require referral fees, however, fees are now outlined in the regulation for these agencies and their referral triggers. Payment of the fee is required when the applicant conducts the referral.

As part of the referral process, the development is assessed against the relevant State Development Assessment Provisions. Similar to assessment against a planning scheme code, these assessment provisions provide the relevant criteria for both the applicant and referral agencies to assess the development against. A written assessment against the relevant modules will ensure the development is designed in accordance with the provisions. This will help avoid Not Properly Made notices and Information Requests from the referral agency.

As you can see, Referral Agencies can greatly impact the result and progress of your proposed development. So, avoid time delays, unexpected costs, and project re-design, and contact one of our town planners or building certifiers at Devcert to discuss your development proposal, before you even consider making your application.

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Candace is a valued past employee of Devcert. Candace started as a student with Devcert in 2010 and obtained a Bachelor Degree in Planning while working with us. Many of the planning articles on The Oil Stone were researched and developed by Candace.