Can our suburbs survive over-development?


By David Hinchliffe

Former BCC Deputy Mayor and Planning Chairman and former local Councillor David Hinchliffe (pictured) speaks out about development.

Over-development — like the two 30 storey Kokoda towers proposed at Teneriffe – can kill a community.

Development in our much-loved inner north is in danger of getting out of control.

In quiet residential neighbourhoods like New Farm and Teneriffe development can rip a community apart permanently…

We can do much better. History shows this.

30 years ago, Council had a clear policy of urban renewal in inner city areas like New Farm. Suburbs that had declined in population by almost 50 per cent since 1945 were targeted for sensitive urban renewal to bring people, especially families, back to the inner city to help reduce or slow down the scourge of urban sprawl.

Examples of good urban renewal are everywhere, including the James Street precinct (previously a massive Coca-Cola bottling site), the Emporium site (previously the Light Street bus depot) the Powerhouse, the Riverview Galleries at Maxwell St, previously owned by Marine Safety Authority, the residential development on the old Sugar Refinery site, the Teneriffe Woolstores, Mariners Reach and many more.

While those developments created tension (and as local Councillor I copped a lot of heat) the reality is Council back then kept development to a more human scale than we see today.

We also combined private upmarket development with community housing by establishing the Brisbane Housing Company which has built more than 2000 units of affordable accommodation.

If those urban renewal sites were being developed today, the sky would be the limit. Mariners Reach would be a succession of 30 storey soulless skyscrapers as would River Galleries.

We know there is a housing affordability crisis. Developers tell us their extra height and greater density solve that problem. The reality is that most of the extra development is for millionaire property buyers and not affordable for regular city workers (nurses, teachers, office workers) who make our city run. They can no longer afford the inner, middle, or even many of the outer Brisbane suburbs.

Density is king these days with quality rarely getting a look in. Do these developments fit in to the neighbourhood? Where are the green walls, green roofs, and small affordable studio units? Where are we opening up more green space instead of using it up for commercial entertainment?

Development will be the major issue in our community in the upcoming Council election. Do we want liveable suburbs like New Farm and Teneriffe turned into charmless skyscraper canyons like much of Newstead? To be a community or not to be… that is the question…

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