It was standing room only as 350 people crammed into the Souths Leagues Club in West End on Wednesday night to hear about the Kurilpa Riverfront Renewal Plan.
They got what they came for, rousing calls for an international exhibition, reminders about the resident’s victory over the Bjelke Petersen government that resulted in Southbank Parklands and presentations offering stark choices between the crowded skyscrapers of Hong Kong or Manhattan and the open, creative spaces of Vancouver and Amsterdam.
The LNP proposal to put an extra 11,500 residents into the north west corner of the Kurilpa peninsula (between the Go Between Bridge and the Souths Rugby Club at Davies Park) by building a wall of 30 and 40 story skyscrapers was launched to developers and business leaders at a $150 a seat dinner last month. See original story
Local Councillor for the Gabba Ward, Helen Abrahams; State MP for South Brisbane, Jackie Trad and President of West End Community Association (WECA) Dr Erin Evans all described the nervous titters of disbelief as the plan was revealed to developers at the Business Development Association and Brisbane Marketing lunch.
“This is not a plan. This is simply an invitation to developers to build as high and as close as they like. It is just a bunch of coloured boxes on a page. My four year old granddaughter could have done that.” Helen Abrahams’ granddaughter received roars of acclamation.
The new plan has an extra ten stories added to the revised Riverfront neighbourhood plan, described in the article West End’s Green Heart published in Westender’s print edition of May 2014. That plan itself was inconsistent in a number of areas with earlier council planning documents including the 2006 Woollongabba and South Brisbane Plan developed under the auspices of ex Lord Mayor and local legend Tim Quinn.
Long term West End activist Professor Phil Heywood quoted population density figures (leaping from imperial to metric as he went). Brisbane metro currently has around 20 persons per hectare, West End has around 100. The new development will concentrate people to about 1200 persons per hectare, putting it right up there with the most crowded cities in the world. Hong Kong has around 1400.
Jackie Trad reminded residents that the 11,500 new residents that come with the Kurilpa Riverfront plan are only a fraction of the 30,000 new residents proposed for the 4101 postcode. “Can you imagine the grid lock getting on and off the peninsula when the population goes from 20,000 to 50,000 people?” quipped one town planner in the audience.
“And it’s on a flood plain,” thundered Helen Abrahams as the first microphone failed under the excitement.
Jackie Trad and Professor Heywood reminded residents of the people-power that overthrew a deal between the BJP government and developer Theiss on the Expo site on the south bank of the Brisbane River.
“Do you remember River City 2000? The islands in the river bursting with sky scrapers?” Professor Hayworth’s rhetoric conjured up past visions of a gloriously crowded future. “It was the people of Brisbane who put a stop to that.”
Questions from the floor teased out the methods whereby the Kurilpa Riverfront Renewal Plan might be consigned to the same scrapheap.
Greens candidate for South Brisbane, Jonathon Sri, called for engagement with the broader Brisbane Community; an apartment dweller with a verandah opening onto the 94 decibel soundwall of the trainline described the downside of high density dwelling, a proposal for community owned real-estate was laid out. City wide engagement, alternative visions, alternative surveys, ambit claims, integrated community development, false consultation boycotts and Parkour parks were all put into the mix.
WECA and the Kurilpa Futures Campaign Group (operating out of the Trades Hall in Peel Street) will coordinate the community response.