ABSOE1Dr Erin Evans of the West End Community Association asks whether the developers of the ABSOE site in Boundary Street, West End, are being allowed to bypass planning requirements by the piecemeal development of the project.

Is the Council’s own masterplan requirement being ignored for the Absoe site redevelopment (93-111 Boundary St)? It appears that by breaking up the site into smaller ‘stages’ the developer is attempting to side step the critical requirement for a masterplan and ignore community views.

The prominence and scale of this site will have a critical impact on the heart of West End for the wider Brisbane community, residents and existing businesses. Master planning is a Council requirement for the redevelopment due to the scale of the site (>10000m2).  The masterplan stipulates density, traffic arrangements, and land use including retail and public space. The masterplan process ensures that the community has adequate opportunity to understand what is proposed in its entirety and voice its opinion to Council.

The community voiced its concerns about the initial development application for the Absoe site made in May this year. In this application, the developer sought a Preliminary Approval from Council to vary the effect of the Brisbane City Plan 2014 to establish the overall framework and concept for the development – including higher densities through increased building heights (up to 27 stories) and providing less public space than is required for this sized site.

The community welcomed the statement on 24 July from Councillor Cooper, Chair of Planning and Development Brisbane City Council (BCC), that this proposal raised numerous concerns to be addressed by the developer,. Cr Cooper stated that the developer “needed to prepare a masterplan for the future stages of the development and ensure traffic access and street upgrades were undertaken as well as ensure the minimum 20% of publicly accessible space on the site is met.”  Aside from these media statements, Council has not made public its formal assessment and required changes, nor has it published any response from the developer, although it is understood there have been ongoing discussions between Council and the developer.

On 11 September, in contravention of the requirement for a masterplan of the site, the developer lodged a  “parallel” development application to Council for Stage 1 of the development for two 15-storey buildings delivering 342 apartments. Council subsequently confirmed to the developer that there is no requirement for community consultation or public notice of this Stage as it is ‘code assessable’.

“It is completely inappropriate for development to proceed on this site without a comprehensive masterplan being provided that can be assessed for its overall impact and community benefit,” Dr Erin Evans, President of the West End Community Association stated.

“It appears that the developer hasn’t responded to the council requirements or concerns about this significant development, and yet proposes to commence Stage 1 demolition and construction.” said Dr Evans.

On 2 August the community held a Day of Action, in which we saw hundreds of residents from across Brisbane rally to call on planning requirements to be upheld by council.  The mega-developments of the former Distance Education and Absoe sites were in the spotlight as they nearly double the 2011 census population (8000 residents) of the area.

“There is no proper masterplan of the site to ensure the impacts on the area are clear and can be assessed. We call on Council to enforce its own requirement for the site to be masterplanned before any “parallel” development applications can be considered.  Financial imperatives of the developer cannot override the planning requirements and community benefit.” said Dr Evans.

More Info: weca.org.au