THE NEW town plan for the whole of the Southern Downs Region has been adopted and will come into effect today.
In a surprise announcement late yesterday, planning director Ken Harris said the scheme, which the council had said would be in place by the end of the year, had been approved by the State Government.
From today all new development applications will be considered against the Southern Downs Planning Scheme rather than the former Warwick and Stanthorpe town plans.
"Its adoption will simplify planning as the two existing planning schemes will be replaced by one single planning scheme with consistent policies across the whole of the region," Mr Harris said.
"The Southern Downs Planning Scheme has been four years in the making with the first community meetings about the plan held in July 2008."
A draft scheme was formally advertised for submissions in August and September 2011, and 100 were received.
Mr Harris said these were considered by the council and changes were made as a result.
He said in some cases the State Government had required changes that were not proposed by the council.
Mayor Peter Blundell said while the council was required to make inclusions requested by the State Government, the new scheme "essentially reflects" the input received from the community.
"Council would like to thank the numerous community members who attended meetings, made submissions and contributed so extensively to the plan preparation process," said Cr Blundell.
"The planning scheme has benefited from being led by community values and grounded through community feedback.