South Bank is a permanent legacy of Expo ’88.  Now 30 years on, it is still one of Brisbane’s most popular destinations, and South Bank Corporation (SBC) has released a vision for the future to ensure it continues to meet the needs of the community.

Recently, Tim Quinn, a SBC director, former Mayor, West End resident and member of Kurilpa Futures facilitated a meeting of three local community organisations, Kurilpa Futures, West End Community Association and West End Community House (WECH), with the South Bank Master Plan team..

West End Community Association (WECA) President, Seleanah More, said she welcomed the briefing from SBC to understand the driving pressures for redesign such as growing and changing demographics (51,000 by 2040), the Olympics and ageing assets. 

The meeting provided a footing for ongoing communication and relationships for locals groups and Southbank Corporation for further input to the Master Plan, Ms More said, but further conversations are needed.

“There are some design concepts of note such as expanding the play area, increased connection to the river’s edge, avoiding pedestrian and vehicle (including bikes/ scooters) conflict, upgrades to Grey Street that prioritise all road user safety and improved active transport routes and greening of streets into West End.”

“WECA is looking for a commitment to retain mature vegetation, minimised hardstand, resilient (flood) design and limits on commercial development to keep South Bank true to its original purpose as green open space for all people.”

Ms More said WECA is pleased that the consultation on the Draft Master Plan has been extended to the end of January so there can be thorough examination of the document by the community.

Tim Quinn discusses the meeting and responses to the Master Plan vision below.

Tim, can you outline the history of the Master Plan, when it started and what the drivers were?

The Draft has been in preparation for several years. There have already been some very important early rounds of engagement with the community.

South Bank is now 30 years old with the last master plan prepared 20 years ago.  A lot of things have changed in the city particularly in the surrounding context of South Bank in South Brisbane. It’s a very different place to what it was when the last master plan was completed.

Master planning is a good opportunity to look forward, in this case, about 30 years and seeing what we should focus on going forward. I’m really pleased that some of the most important matters have come out strongly. Very importantly, opportunities for increasing green space, dealing with sustainability issues including heat and maximizing shade possibilities. Also of course, flooding is always an issue in South Brisbane.

There is an emphasis in the plan on South Bank being an important place for all people of the community. Very importantly in recent years, South Bank has more clearly recognised the history, culture, and the presence of First Nations people.

There are important opportunities as infrastructure needs to be replaced over time, to keep these elements in mind, greater green space, greater sustainability, and a place which can cater for the needs of all the people in the community.  These are some of the key themes which come through in the Master Plan.

I know that you particularly pleased that there’s a plan to increase green space on Grey Street.

The two major traffic routes through South Brisbane are designed to be the Merivale and Cordelia Streets couplet, but as a wide street, Grey Street has continued to carry unnecessary high levels of through traffic, which is better suited to those other two streets. So, there’s an opportunity to change the nature of Grey Street to slow down some of the traffic and to use the space that’s been freed up both for bicycles and for more open space.

The one about bicycles is important, because now as everyone knows, there is some conflict between pedestrians and cyclists along the riverfront Boardwalk. If there were some opportunities for cycling on Grey Street, it would certainly be a better choice of route for people who are commuter cyclists to get into the city or to other places as quickly as possible.

What about the proposed changes to the Promenade, moving it back from the river front?

I think some of the ideas for the future of Promenade are very important. One of the things about the current Master Plan is that the ends or edges of the South Bank area are seen as somewhat unwelcoming and not well linked to some of the surrounding areas. For example, it’s felt that the Cultural Forecourt and the access to Victoria Bridge could be a much more welcoming and more useful space than it currently is.

On the southern end the linkages from South Bank to the Kangaroo Point cliffs needs improvement. There is no direct link across in front of the drydock at the Maritime Museum. There’s a real pinch point for cyclists and pedestrians and indeed cars coming down Sidon Street.

So those two edges need a significant amount of improvement, and that has been catered for in the last Draft Master Plan.

The Promenade like all infrastructure has a certain lifetime. And the Draft Master Plan indicates that when that lifetime has been reached, there should be an opportunity to move it further back from the river’s edge. That would have a couple of beneficial features. One would be that it would enable green lawn space to go right down to the very edge of the river. As has happened, for example, in the piece of green space that was created about 10 years ago, up towards the Goodwill Bridge now a very well used, well-loved green space lawn which goes right down to the water’s edge. So, if the Promenade were moved beside the river in a more curved rather than linear way, it would open those opportunities for green space at the river’s edge. The other thing of course, is that if the Promenade were not right in the river, it would be better from both an ongoing life of infrastructure point of view, but also greater flood resilience.

How will West End link to South Bank via Glenelg and Russell Streets?

South Bank plays a very important role in the surrounding community and has an ever-increasing role given the very significant increase in population in 4101. Russell Street links straight through to the Goanna in the heart of West End, while Glenelg Street links through more to the Vulture Street end. Both are important.

There has been a decision to dismantle the Piazza. Can you talk about the rationale for that?

A most important role of the Master Plan is to consider the function and life of elements of infrastructure over coming decades.

I think there’s always been a view that the capacity of the Piazza is either too big or too small. As it comes towards the end of its life, there would be an opportunity to look for other possible, more appropriate sized meeting places and certainly that’s one of the many things being considered if the Piazza were to be replaced.

One of the issues raised at the meeting with the community groups was the loss of trees in certain areas of South Bank.

There will in fact be many more trees planted as the use of certain parts of the site change. There may be a very small number of trees lost at the Cultural Forecourt, but within South Bank overall, there’s been a dramatic increase in the number of trees planted as part of that movement to far greater shade. So, for example, when a few years ago, the Riverside Green was constructed the existing rainforest was extended with a very significant increase in tree planting in the area. There will also be more trees in other new green spaces opened within the area. I think the green space in the draft master plan is estimated to increase by eight to ten per cent. There might be the loss of a small number of trees here and there, but they’re overwhelmingly being replaced by a much greater number.

The team and you talked about both Russell Street and Glenelg Street connecting West End with South Bank, but they also connect to Musgrave Park, a very important First Nations meeting point. How does the Master Plan ensure First Nations needs are met.

Musgrave Park, and most of Glenelg Street, are outside of the South Bank Corporation area and so outside the scope of the Draft Master Plan, but these connections have been identified as important in integrating and connecting the city, as well as contributing to Brisbane’s lifestyle, culture, and identity. Over recent years South Bank has made much stronger efforts in recognising the importance of the history and culture and presence of First Nations peoples within its area of responsibility.

One of the issues that was raised at the meeting with the West End based community groups was that we’re still very much at the vision stage with this master plan. What are the next steps and how can people be involved in putting their thoughts forward?

The Draft Master Plan is now out for public consultation. The Deputy Premier has recently extended the date for public consultation to midnight 31 January 2023. All information about the master plan is available online, and I would encourage people to access it and put forward their points of view at

I was really pleased to arrange the special briefing for the three important local community groups, because I think that process of engagement between South Bank and the local community groups is an important one and mutually very beneficial.

The Deputy Premier also recently announced a new board for SBC, so who are the final decision-makers on the Master Plan?

South Bank is at a crucial point now. The master planning process was started before the decision about Brisbane 2032, but the Olympics and Paralympic Games are obviously an important focal point and legacy for the city.

Once consultation is complete, the master plan team along with the interim Corporation Board will be reviewing all submissions received to prepare the Final Master Plan for consideration by the Queensland Government. The Corporation’s anticipated timing is to prepare a Final Master Plan in late 2023.

The tenure of the board was always due to expire on 31 December 2022. So, the decision has been made, quite rightly, to appoint a new board. On this occasion it’s going to be a board with  an interim life of a year or so and will consist of key stakeholders from the State Government and Brisbane City Council, because some of the major decisions have to be made now  such as how South Bank will be an important part in the overall strategic planning for the Olympics.

My understanding is that when those strategic city-wide issues are planned out, a traditionally-composed South Bank board will be re-established, which would still have state government representation, Council representation, but also professional and community representation as has traditionally been the case.  I have suggested that someone with deep connections into the Inner Southside community should be on the Board at that stage.

All the while of course the planning team at South Bank will be carefully considering the feedback from the community,

Further Information

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