Back in the 1980s the former National Party premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen cut a deal with private developers for South Brisbane’s land once Expo88 was completed. It was a secret affair done for special interests. In the end the people of Brisbane rejected being cut out and they campaigned for the continuation of a great community asset. The result was Southbank.
The Kurilpa Riverfront Master Plan site in Brisbane is 1 1/2 times the size of South Bank. It has a total area of 25 hectares. It is a once in lifetime opportunity to develop the last, large-scale holding within Brisbane’s CBD.
The impressive scale demands an imagination of a similar scale. As in 1988 ordinary people of Brisbane must challenge this Liberal National Party government to get beyond narrow sectional interests to create Brisbane’s next South Bank. This should be a redevelopment that belongs in the twenty-first century.
Sadly the LNP State Government led by Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney and the City Hall controlled by Lord Mayor Graham Quirk have chosen to ignore requests from the West End Community Association to provide the same level of information and access afforded the developers across the last ten months. We can only speculate as to their choices and motives. However we do not need to accept their conduct.
The Kurilpa Master Plan should grasp the opportunity to deploy a light-rail network, powered by clean, renewable electricity. It’s a high capacity mode of transport that is not vulnerable to escalating operating costs derived from diesel prices. Those trams will not be consigned to the on-going traffic jams as buses are now.
The scale of the greenspace and open space should be ambitious. On yesterday’s draft its apparent that much of the present Riverside Park is being cannibalized for further commercial and private development. The opening ambit claim by the LNP will have 96% of the 25 hectares gifted to developers. Far from a gift for the community, the amount of open greenspace is only 6 % of the Brisbane City Council KPIs for public greenspace. This is appalling and the public will not accept being short-changed in such a way.
Embrace the Green necklace
We have a chance to create Brisbane’s next great Botanic Gardens. This can be another glorious space for the people that completes a green necklace.
Adding this new sub-tropical riverside park can connect the original Botanic Gardens and South Bank, to the Roma Street Parklands. Our sub-tropical capital would be surrounded by the most wondrous network of parks and open spaces.
Brisbane can do better. In fact, Brisbane deserves better. And as with the original South Bank concept this outcome will require a concerted effort from all of the people in Brisbane.