For over a decade the Buranda State School community has been campaigning against a 21-storey development approved by the Brisbane City Council to be built on land adjacent to their school.

Last week the Department of Transport and Main Roads agreed to transfer the land adjacent to the school, to the Department of Education.

Local Member for South Brisbane, Jackie Trad, said the transfer is a step towards the land being utilised for public amenity and the direct benefit of the school community.

Ms Trad had worked closely over some years with the Buranda Parents and Citizens Association (P&C) and the local community in their campaign to repurpose the land.

“This was the direct result of tireless community campaigning by parents and locals; I am proud to have played a small part in this result.”

“I applaud the department for listening to locals, and I would like to thank the Hon. Mark Bailey and the Hon. Grace Grace for listening to the concerns of my community and acting decisively to deliver positive outcomes,” Ms Trad said.

Ms Trad said that rapid population growth in the South Brisbane Electorate is putting pressure on Local Government planning schemes, Ms Trad said.

“We need to ensure that planning decisions, made by the Brisbane City Council, are in keeping with the expectations of the broader community.”

“Especially when it is determining the use of public land, I think there is an expectation, shared by me and by my community, that this land be used for projects that deliver a net community benefit to everyone, not just private developers,” Ms Trad said.

Buranda School P&C president, Sarah Warner, told The Westender that the transfer of the land to the Education Department is the culmination of a long and complex campaign by the School community and the Better Buranda Project.

“It’s an excellent outcome, and I feel constantly grateful that we were able to have a bunch of great outcomes from what was a really long and uncertain process. It gives me a huge amount of confidence that the State School will now not have any kind of development next to it.”

“It was a crazy site to be building a 20-storey building on. I’m really pleased that we stopped that, and I’m really pleased that Jackie Trad has been able to get it into Education Department hands because I think that we have really future-proofed the land for the school,” Ms Warner said.

Locals Belinda Hogan, Sally Dillon, Fi Cameron and Phil Vaughan, established the Better Buranda Project as a community action group to drive the campaign. They focused on stopping the development and on highlighting the need for appropriate development in the area. Ms Hogan said it is also used as a platform to highlight other community issues when they arise.

Belinda Hogan during the campaign

Tips from the Campaign

Sometimes when we see stories like this one, we do not always see them as directly relevant to our own experiences, but Ms Warner, and tireless campaigner, Belinda Hogan, have some tips from their experiences that are relevant to any community group campaigning for better development.

Ms Warner said she is not anti-development, “but I am anti developments that are unsympathetic to the community, that do not take account of the community infrastructure, like schools, and green space, and space for walking. I think that’s the kind of development that really needs to be stopped.”

“From my experience of being part of this community action over a number of years, there’s a couple of things that have stood out: the tenacity of some of the people involved to not stop when they meet a hurdle, but to keep on going and going and going,” Ms Warner said.

Ms Warner and Ms Hogan shared some other tips:

  • Identify and nurture the skills in your community that will support your campaign.
  • Research the developer and builder.
  • Check and re-check the regulations – go back to Council “over and over and over again” if needed.
  • Look at the issues from multiple angles, not just as a knee jerk reaction to having a big new building in the neighbourhood.
  • Be clear about the outcomes you are seeking.
  • Be very, very noisy on social media.
  • Write media releases and mobilise your community to be active and hold rallies.
  • Work with your local elected representatives.

Ms Hogan said that Ms Trad worked with the group for the entire campaign, and they were also supported over the years by Helen Abrahams when she was Gabba Ward Councillor, and later by Councillor Jonathan Sri.

On working with elected representatives, Ms Warner said, work with them, not in opposition to them.

“Progress your point of view, and find the issues that work and can be supported by your local politician …”

“We were so fortunate that we had the ear of Jackie Trad right from the beginning and she was able to progress things,” Ms Warner said.

All images supplied