On Tuesday, Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner announced that the South Brisbane’s Kurilpa precinct is set to become Brisbane’s most sustainable community, but many in the local community are not convinced his plan will deliver.

Cr Schrinner’s plan is for Council to approve a Temporary Local Planning Instrument (TLPI) that will allow new residential buildings to be built above existing height limits on the condition they meet specified green credentials. Commercial buildings and hotels are excluded from the lifting of height restrictions. Under the plan for residential buildings the height limit could be up to 270 metres, equal to the tallest buildings in Brisbane’s CBD.

Cr Schrinner said Brisbane is the fastest growing capital city in Australia.

“So we have to deliver new homes while also protecting the character of our suburbs and the lifestyle our residents love.”.

“The Brisbane’s Sustainable Growth Strategy, which we released in March, achieves that by allowing CBD-style heights in the Kurilpa precinct, an area that already has incredible access to public infrastructure and amenities.”

Under the Kurilpa Sustainable Growth Precinct Plan, residential buildings above existing heights will be required to meet the Green Building Council of Australia’s 5-star Green Star rating category.

The TLPI goes to Council for support next Tuesday enabling new applications to be lodged for taller buildings in the Kurilpa precinct.

We’re doing this deliberately so that we can get things rolling quickly. A normal city plan amendment usually takes 18 months to two years. We have a housing crisis right now. So, we need to fast track this process,” Cr Schrinner said at his press conference yesterday.

Property Council Queensland Executive Director Jen Williams stood with the Lord Mayor at his press conference on Tuesday. While she did not say how the development industry might ensure there is an increase in affordability in the Lord Mayor’s plan, she told the Westender that:

Queensland is in the grips of a housing crisis, with more housing of all typologies urgently required to address the chronic undersupply of dwellings right across the state. There is nothing more important to social wellbeing than access to a safe, secure home.”


Map showing allowable building heights in the Kurilpa precinct.

Community Benefits

Ms Williams also said that many of the developers within the precinct are long-term investors in the community, who, she said, go above and beyond planning requirements when planning and delivering their projects.

They pride themselves on delivering high-quality, long-term outcomes for the benefit of their owners, residents, tenants, customers and visitors.”

Examples of what Ms Williams sees as community benefit are Aria’s Fish Lane project and West Village, both of which she said are celebrated nationally and internationally for creating new places and spaces for community to connect.

Community groups argue that while the benefits from the planned TLPI are clear for developers, there are questions about what benefits will flow to the community.

West End Community Association (WECA) has argued in the past that additional building heights add pressure on the local community facilities, including schools and transport networks.

“Any claim of public benefit is hollow when Council refuses to have meaningful community consultation on the future of our neighbourhood,” WECA president, Seleanah More told the Westender.

Building on the floodplain

Cr Schrinner dismissed concerns about high-rise development on a floodplain, saying:

“The reality is Brisbane was built on a floodplain. Sixty percent of the CBD is prone to flooding. What that means is it’s not a question of whether people build but it’s how they build. It’s about building more resilient. The idea that if an area floods and nothing can happen, will only make the housing crisis worse.”

Pam Bourke, spokesperson for Kurilpa Futures says the group does not agree.

Nothing was done by Council between the 2011 flood and the 2022 flood to make the Kurilpa precinct more resilient. Now Council is proposing 10,000 more units on the flood plain and telling us that above ground car parking will make the high-rise buildings more resilient. Cr Schrinner must be hoping that there are no more floods while he is still Mayor,” Ms Bourke said.

Affordable Housing

While Cr Schrinner has cited the housing crisis as one of the key drivers for the TLPI he avoided any attempts to pin him down on the extent of the affordable housing to be made available through his planning changes.

Deputy Mayor Krista Adams said on Tuesday that affordable housing is not compulsory in the plan.

“… but we are encouraging applicants to have a look at that opportunity and to use affordable housing as one of their benchmarks to make sure we can match that accessibility, diversity, and affordability as well.”

Kurilpa Futures told the Westender that thousands of additional units already developed in Kurilpa has not resulted in any more affordable housing.

“The opposite is true. There is no indication that this mega development proposal will be any different. With no firm commitment to include affordable housing by Brisbane City Council or the State Government, references to affordable housing are just PR slogans,” Ms Bourke said.

Local State MP, Amy MacMahon has raised similar concerns, saying that while she welcomes some of the restrictions and requirements on developers in the plan, “we need to see more from all levels of government to ensure working people don’t continue to get priced out of this neighbourhood.

“Allowing private property developers to build luxury skyscrapers that only a wealthy few can afford does nothing to help end the housing affordability crisis.”

The Queensland Greens have a bill in State Parliament seeking to ensure all new developments include public housing.

“There’s no point having a so-called ‘sustainable’ neighbourhood if ordinary people can’t afford to live there, the roads are congested, the schools are overcrowded, and thousands of people compete for tiny patches of green space.

Ms MacMahon said she would like to see a community-led plan for South Brisbane.

Infrastructure has not kept pace with population growth.

Urban planner, Dr Phil Heywood says infrastructure provision is particularly critical and Council dismisses concerns by shifting responsibility to the State Government.

Asked whether he has spoken with the State Government about the demand on already burgeoning schools in West End and South Brisbane, Cr Schrinner said:

I have chatted to the Deputy Premier about having to work together on this. You’ll see that the government has already built two high-rise schools, one in the city, one in the valley. And so that’s the kind of option that I imagine needs to be rolled out supporting the precinct … ultimately schools don’t have to take a traditional form. They can be high-rise schools.”

Cr Adams said South Brisbane already has good transport links, including train and bus stations as well as bridges.

“A fantastic part of this plan are the community infrastructure benchmarks that could provide meeting places or community spaces to support the social fabric of the neighbourhood.”

However, WECA president Seleanah More says social infrastructure has not kept pace with population growth.

I think the community has been very clear and consistent about what we need to maintain liveability in an urban neighbourhood. We’ve had a decade of it, and we keep on saying we need targeted affordable housing, more parks, more libraries, and schools.”

“But this is the Council’s response to the community’s demand; they are trying to house fifty percent of the forecast population growth for Southeast Queensland (470,000 people) into one per cent of the area with no mention of the social infrastructure challenges that come with that density. 

“They are just gifting yield and profit to the developers, driving land value up and then passing that cost and responsibility onto the state government. That’s just politics, it’s not planning.”



Kurilpa Futures is planning an information forum for interested residents on Sunday 18 June to discuss the impacts of the proposed changes.

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Cover Image – Brisbane River in flood –  iStock-664943642 – Credit MaytheeVoran