Burke Shire Council

Draft Planning Scheme - for public consultation Draft Planning Scheme - for public consultation


Part 3  Strategic framework

3.1 Preliminary
3.2 Strategic Intent
3.3 Strategic intent statements

3.1  Preliminary

  1. The strategic framework sets the policy direction for the planning scheme and forms the basis for ensuring appropriate development occurs within the planning scheme area for the life of the planning scheme.
  2. Mapping for the strategic framework is included in Schedule 2.
  3. For the purpose of describing the policy direction of the planning scheme, the strategic framework is structured in the following way:
    1. the strategic intent — Enhancing Liveability and Increasing Prosperity in the Shire
    2. the following five themes that collectively represent the policy intent of the scheme:
      1. Encouraging economic growth;
      2. Supporting rural and small town living;
      3. Avoiding natural hazards;
      4. Safeguarding our environment and heritage; and
      5. Providing appropriate infrastructure.
    3. the strategic outcome(s) proposed for development in the planning scheme area for each theme
  4. Although each theme has its own section, the strategic framework in its entirety represents the policy intent for the planning scheme.


3.2  Strategic Intent

The Burke Shire Council and its community understand that planning for the future development of the Shire plays a critical role in enhancing liveability and increasing prosperity, so that it occurs on our terms.

The planning scheme builds upon Burke’s traditional economic strengths including agriculture, natural beauty (tourism) and mineral extraction. It seeks to further enhance economic opportunities in the tourism and resources sector, as well as supporting residential, commercial and light industrial development in the Shire’s towns.

In striving for liveability and prosperity, the Burke Shire envisions:

  • A safe, inclusive and friendly community
    • Supporting and promoting creativity
    • Creating places and spaces for all age groups
    • Preserving and enhancing our lifestyle
    • Maintaining a healthy and active community
  • A self-sufficient, strong and diverse economy
    • A self-sufficient, robust local economy
    • Growing local jobs and enhancing local skills
    • Encouragement of innovation
    • Strengthened and broadened tourism opportunities
    • Promotion of natural attractions and heritage
  • A sustainable, healthy and managed environment
    • Preservation of habitats for migratory, threated and local native species
    • Maintenance of unique biodiversity
    • Sustainable planning and design
    • Increasing provision of major water and public infrastructure, including road networks

The planning scheme realises Council’s intent to grow its economic opportunities by establishing a framework to facilitate the future liveability and prosperity of Burke Shire through clearly articulating:

  • Outcomes that satisfy Council’s vision; and
  • A development assessment framework to support the strategic outcomes for growing the economic opportunities of Burke Shire into the future.

It does this by:

  • Being focused on achieving the desired outcomes;
  • Positively responding to change and encouraging appropriate development within Burke Shire;
  • Ensuring that development decisions are transparent and accountable to the Burke Shire community;
  • Placing reasonably low planning barriers to future tourism developments in Burketown and Gregory;
  • Placing reasonably low planning barriers to appropriate residential development in existing residential areas in Gregory, and land that will be opened up in Burketown as a result of the Burketown Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA);
  • Providing for light industry, appropriately located, on the outskirts of Burketown and Gregory;
  • Providing for future commercial development in the main streets of Burketown and Gregory;
  • Providing for future community infrastructure, including parks and sporting facilities, as well as further expansion of the Burketown Wharf precinct;
  • Providing for the relocation of Burketown’s Rubbish Tip;
  • Making allowances for future infrastructure, including roads, water, sewerage and energy;
  • Ensuring entry barriers to appropriate extractive industry are not excessively high;
  • Balancing tourism and mining growth against the requirements of the existing agricultural industry;
  • Protecting areas of natural significance from development;
  • Protecting heritage buildings and areas from inappropriate development; and
  • Ensuring flood levels, tidal surge levels and erosion zones are taken into account for all developments.

The prosperity of Burke Shire will continue to grow, thanks to a diversified economy that protects and augments its economic drivers: agriculture, tourism and the resources sector. The liveability of the Shire will be enhanced by preserving our environment and heritage, scenic beauty, and the character and lifestyle of our towns, whilst also allowing for new development that can co-exist with and complement our traditional economic strengths.

The planning scheme identifies development which supports these fundamentals in terms of ‘what we do’ (i.e. having a ‘fit for purpose’ development assessment regime) and ‘where we do it’ (i.e. ensuring an adequate and appropriate land supply).

To support this liveability and prosperity into the future, (throughout the 20 year horizon of this planning scheme – to 2036) development should be strategically located in a safe and efficient manner that does not leave a negative legacy on the community and landscape of the Shire.

Five key policy elements will drive this strategic intent:

  1. Encouraging economic growth;
  2. Supporting rural and small town living;
  3. Avoiding natural hazards;
  4. Safeguarding our environment and heritage; and
  5. Providing appropriate infrastructure.


3.3  Strategic intent statements

3.3.1  Encouraging economic growth



The Shire's tourist sector plays an important role in the regional economy. Renowned tourist sites (not only for the Shire but for North-West Queensland more broadly) such as the Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park and the Riversleigh World Heritage Fossil Site, will be protected from inappropriate development that detracts from the quality of the experience.

These examples, and other significant tourist sites, are identified in SPP mapping - Economic Growth, Tourism.

With ongoing improvement of road infrastructure, Drive Tourism in the Shire is increasing, and developments that enhance and value-add to the tourist experiences and the tourism economy generally are encouraged. Such developments include:

  • Further expansion of Burketown’s Wharf Precinct
  • Sustainable development of the Burketown Artesian Bore
  • Additional tourist accommodation options for Burketown
  • Regulation of camping around the Gregory River in Gregory


Burke Shire is located within the North West Queensland Mineral and Energy Province. Mineral and gas exploration and extraction, as well as quarrying resources, could play an important part in our future prosperity.

To facilitate new growth in the Shire's economy, it is important that any associated uses are able to co-exist with other land uses. It is Council’s preference that any future resource-related developments, including non-resident workforce accommodation camps, are constructed on-lease to minimise impact of the infrastructure of Council’s existing towns. Extractive industry sites are to be rehabilitated once the resource has been exhausted or the extractive industry use becomes no longer viable.

No new mining towns will be established within the Shire, whilst new development in support of new resources projects will be undertaken around existing towns in keeping with traditional town character.

Resource Projects include:

  • Ongoing rehabilitation works and potential for future extraction, MMG Century Mine
  • Gas exploration in the Lawn Hill Formation south-west of Burketown
  • Mineral exploration in the Walford Creek area


At the commencement of this planning scheme (and as envisaged into 2036), agriculture – primarily cattle grazing – is a major employer in the Shire, and pastoral leases make up the majority of Burke Shire’s land area.

Agriculture in the Shire supports other businesses within the agricultural supply chain. A viable agricultural sector will be maintained by removing the potential for land use conflicts, protecting resources from inappropriate development and increasing opportunities for investment, production and diversification.

Given the importance the rural area plays to the economy of the Shire, the rural area will be protected from fragmentation that would result in diminished productivity of lands identified in Agricultural Land Classification (ALC) - Class A and Class B in SPP mapping - Economic Growth, Agriculture.

Development that occurs in these mapped areas, that is consistent with rural values, will allow farms to diversify their enterprises while not diminishing or limiting the productivity of agricultural lands in shire. Council also recognises the value that secondary uses, such as farm-stays and other tourist activities can bring to the local economy and seeks to provide flexibility for appropriate development on agricultural land.

Council supports the development of value-adding agricultural industries, where they are located in rural areas and where they do not compromise the ability of the existing land uses to function safely and effectively.

The function, connectivity and pasture productivity of the stock route network is maintained for sustainable use by travelling stock on hoof. The stock route network is protected from developments (on or near stock routes) that have potential for conflict between use of the network and use of the adjoining areas. The stock route network's use or capacity for the primary purpose of travelling stock on hoof is maintained. Potential for conflict between use of the network and use of adjoining areas is avoided. The stock route network is identified in SPP mapping - Agriculture Stock Route Network.

3.3.2 Supporting rural and small town living


Burke Shire is made up large rural properties that are serviced by the town of Burketown and the smaller community of Gregory. The lifestyle offered in the Burke Shire is prized by residents and visitors alike and, while development and economic growth in the Shire is encouraged, the enhancement of this lifestyle is of great importance to Council.

The planning scheme can support and enhance the Shire’s liveability by:

  • Ensuring availability of affordable land and housing.
    • Shed and container housing that is consistent and contributes to the character and residential amenity of locality is supported as an affordable housing option
  • Acknowledging the move towards off-grid power for domestic households
  • Acknowledging and protecting our rich and diverse cultural heritage
  • Encouraging the creation of community spaces for all age groups. Spaces that:
    • Increase community involvement in public areas
    • Engender lifelong learning and education
    • Catalyse creativity, art and culture
    • Promote an active an healthy community


Situated 30km from the Gulf of Carpentaria, Burketown is the largest settlement in the Burke Shire, and home to approximately 40% of the Shire’s residents. It is the administrative and commercial hub of the Shire and – following an indigenous Land Use Agreement in 2015 – will have great potential for future residential, commercial and light industrial development.

Following this unprecedented availability of land, it is important that the barriers to home construction, and establishment of new businesses and services remain low, while preserving the relaxed outback lifestyle and natural beauty that the Shire’s residents prize. Residential block sizes should continue to be generous, consistent with existing properties, while future commercial development remains centred along the town’s main street and future light industrial activity be concentrated on the outskirts of town, along with the town’s existing Water and Sewerage Treatment Plants, Airport and Rubbish Tip.

Rural residential development, on the existing larger blocks, is to be established south of Burketown, to the west of the Savannah Way and north of the Albert River. Further intensification through subdivision of the existing land parcels does not occur so as to maintain the character and amenity of the locality and to ensure that there is increase in the risk to persons or property from natural hazards. A single future tourist accommodation may be considered in this area.

Public amenities, including parks, sporting facilities and the Burketown Wharf Precinct remain central to recreational and community activities, and the future improvement of, and support for, these facilities must be encouraged.

As Burketown continues to grow in the future, it will be also be important to ensure that key infrastructure, include water, sewerage and power provision is catered for while risks from flooding, bushfires and erosion are managed. It is also vital that the town’s character, environmental and cultural assets be preserved.


As the Shire’s other permanent settlement, the small town of Gregory is centrally located within the Local Government Area, and much of the traffic into and through Burke Shire passes through the town.

While it would benefit greatly from improved electricity and telecommunications infrastructure, Gregory’s prosperity could also be enhanced by sensible colocation of similar and complementary developments. This can be achieved by encouraging commercial development on the main street through the town, concentrating light industrial, including renewable power generation, on the town’s outskirts and providing ample space for future tourism and residential development.

As key tourist attraction, it is important that the Gregory River be well managed, while its amenity is leveraged as a vital part of the township’s economic makeup. As an important staging point to both Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park and the Riversleigh World Heritage Fossil Site, appropriate future development to support the tourism industry is encouraged.

The future development of Gregory will require collaboration with Traditional Owners, to satisfactorily address Native Title in the area and facilitate appropriate development.

3.3.3       Avoiding natural hazards


Flooding and Cyclone:

The Shire has a long history with natural hazards, with Burketown bearing the brunt of numerous cyclone and flood events throughout its history. Burketown is low-lying, and prone to both inundation and isolation during cyclones and other flood events.

To ensure that economic development is not adversely impacted by significant flood events, development within Burketown is to be reasonably regulated to ensure flood resilience. Flood assessment will be applied to development on sites affected by flooding and shown in those areas on Schedule 2 - Flood mapping.


The Shire is also prone to bushfire events, and these areas are shown on SPP mapping - Hazards and Safety, Natural Hazards. New developments must take bushfire risks into account by making sure that development does not unduly burden disaster management response or recovery capacity, nor adversely impact the existing capabilities of emergency services. New developments avoid areas known to be bushfire-prone and, where unavoidable, are built and located to be resilient against bushfires.

Coastal hazards:

Burketown is located within the QLD Coastal Management District and is prone to both erosion and storm tide hazards. These areas are shown on SPP mapping - Hazards and Safety, Natural Hazards.

To ensure that economic development is not adversely impacted by coastal hazards, development is primarily encouraged within Burketown in areas unaffected by these hazards. Where this is unavoidable, reasonable action is to be taken to improve resilience.

Emissions and hazardous activities:

Activities involving the use, storage and disposal of hazardous materials and hazardous chemicals, dangerous goods and flammable or combustible substances are located to avoid or mitigate potential adverse impacts on surrounding uses and minimise the health and safety risks to communities and individuals.

Sensitive land uses are protected from the impacts of previous activities that may cause risk to people or property including former mining activities and hazards (e.g. disused underground mines, tunnels and shafts - SPP mapping - Emissions and Hazardous Activities - Abandoned Mines.

The integrity of pipelines carrying minerals and other hazardous materials is maintained and development does not encroach on the pipeline or pipeline easement. The slurry pipeline from Century Mine to Karumba is shown in Schedule 2 – Burke Shire context map.

3.3.4       Safeguarding our environment and heritage


Burke Shire’s environment and rich heritage contribute to both its economic potential and liveability. It is critical that these elements be safeguarded against inappropriate development.

The planning scheme can achieve this by:

  • Making provision for affordable, alternative energy options, including solar power
  • Striking a balance between the need for economic development and environmental protection
  • Providing protection for areas of high environmental value, local flora, fauna and migratory wildlife
  • Using land in a sustainable and practical way, that enhances Burke Shire’s unique local identity and liveability


The Shire is located within the Gulf Catchment, and contains the Leichhardt River, Nicholson River and Settlement Creek Catchments. Burke Shire’s river systems are of great importance to the environmental health of the Gulf of Carpentaria, as well as being sources of significant environmental, cultural and economic value in their own right.

Development within the Shire must facilitate the protection of environmental values and the achievement of water quality objectives of the Shire.


Burke Shire contains sections of both the Gulf Plains and Northwest Highlands bioregions. The Gulf Plains, which make up the north-east portion of the Shire consist primarily of tussock grasslands and forelands, while the Northwest Highlands, which makes up the Shire’s south-west is predominantly low, open Eucalypt woodlands usually with a spinifex understorey. The coastline consists of mangroves and saltmarshes.

Significant state threatened species of fauna and flora have been listed in the Shire, and these include the Red Goshawk, Gouldian Finch, Lilac-crowned Wren, Australian Painted Snipe, Painted Honeyeater, Gulf Snapping Turtle and Golden Horseshoe Bat.

Biodiversity is important to both agriculture and tourism in the Shire. Development must be located in areas that avoids significant adverse impacts on state biodiversity values and protects these while maintaining ecological connectivity. The state biodiversity areas are identified in SPP mapping Environment and Heritage - Biodiversity

Cultural heritage:

Burke Shire contains a number of important state and local cultural heritage places, with Burketown home to the Queensland State Heritage-listed Burketown Post Office (Burketown Visitor Information Centre). Other local sites, like the Boiling Down Works outside of Burketown provide an important link to the Shire’s history and serve as valuable tourist attractions. The unique architectural, cultural and historic qualities of these places, and others like them, contribute to their heritage value and a list of local heritage places is in Schedule 5 - Local Heritage Places.

Council supports the adaptation and re-use of local heritage places for the benefit of the community to ensure that the Shire's history is kept alive for future generations whilst facilitating appropriate development and ongoing use. Development conserves the physical features, fabric and contents that contribute to the cultural heritage significance of the local heritage place and avoids changes to the setting or context of the local heritage place that reduce understanding or appreciation of its cultural heritage significance. Any changes as a result of the development will be appropriately managed, documented and interpreted by encouraging their retention for appropriate development and ongoing use.

3.3.5       Providing appropriate infrastructure


It is imperative that infrastructure keep pace with growth and development in the Burke Shire. It is anticipated that, following the development facilitated by the Burketown ILUA, population growth in Burketown will increase. Likewise, it is important to plan for a similar effect in Gregory should a similar scenario arise there. Council intends to allow for this growth with future public infrastructure projects.


The Wills Development Road between Burketown and the Shire border with Cloncurry Shire presently provides as the only sealed access into the Shire. The Savannah Way, from Carpentaria Shire, through Doomadgee Shire and to the Northern Territory Border also represents an important route for agricultural, tourism and commercial purposes.

Any new development must not adversely affect the safety and efficiency of the road network identified in SPP mapping - Infrastructure, State Transport Infrastructure.


The Burketown airport plays a vital role in delivering passenger and health services across the Southern Gulf region. It provides a direct link to other regional centres and could become vitally important if major resource projects are started in the region. Any new developments located within Burketown must not create incompatible intrusions or compromise aircraft safety or the operation of associated aviation navigation and communication facilities.

Energy and Communications:

Due to the remote nature of the Shire, electricity and telecommunication services are of vital importance to ensure the safety and wellbeing of local residents. Burketown is serviced by a stand-alone diesel power plant, with Gregory and the Shire’s rural properties relying on individual generators and power systems.

Burketown presently relies on an aging radio-based telecommunications system, which is obsolete and beyond capacity. Gregory and the Shire’s rural properties rely on satellite services for telecommunications with very limited mobile telephone coverage.

Council is committed to improving both the energy security and telecommunications infrastructure of the Shire. It aims to achieve this through projects including:

  • Gregory Solar Energy Plant
  • Burketown Solar Energy Plant
  • Gregory Mobile Phone Tower
  • Doomadgee-Burketown Optical Fibre Link

Town-based infrastructure

Burke Shire Council will continue to provide dedicated infrastructure services, including sewerage, water and road networks, and open space areas to the extent possible within the budget framework. This may include:

  • Redesign of the Burketown Sewerage Treatment Plant
  • Relocation of Council’s Gregory Works Depot
  • Relocation of Burketown’s Rubbish Tip
  • The potential to develop Burketown and Gregory’s Rubbish Tips into transfer stations, serviced by a regional waste dump in Doomadgee