Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner has today called on the State Government to ensure 30 per cent of the apartments constructed at Cross River Rail’s Woolloongabba precinct are reserved for social and affordable housing.
Cr Schrinner said the 10-hectare site adjacent to the Gabba Stadium is a unique opportunity to deliver a master-planned inner-city development with a mix of dwelling types, limited car spaces and world-class public transport options.
However, local Councillor for The Gabba, Jonathan Sri, who has been calling for the site to include social housing over the past few years, told The Westender today that he does not think the Lord Mayors call for 30 per cent social and affordable housing goes far enough.
“There’s a big difference between genuine public housing where rent is capped at 30 per cent of a person’s income, and what the major parties mean by the term ‘affordable housing,’ which is privately-owned apartments rented out at 75 per cent of market rent, usually with major government subsidies flowing to private landlords or developers,” Cr Sri said.
The Lord Mayor said he believed the site needed to include:
- A “Social and Affordable Housing Guarantee” of 30 per cent (an estimated 600 apartments).
- Priority access to affordable housing for essential workers (i.e. nurses and teachers) given the site’s proximity to a large number of hospitals and schools.
- Dedicated green space in the heart of the development for a public park.
- A pedestrian/cycling/e-mobility link to the Woolloongabba Bikeway.
In his statement, the Lord Mayor said his call for a “Social and Affordable Housing Guarantee” at the Gabba site came after the latest REIQ Residential Vacancy Report showed the Great Brisbane vacancy rate had plummeted to just one per cent.
“As property prices have grown and rental properties become harder to find, it’s clear that the State Government needs to find ways to provide more social and affordable housing,” Cr Schrinner said.
“If they are serious about dealing with housing affordability, the Woolloongabba site provides the perfect opportunity to prove it.
Cr Schrinner said his proposal will deliver about 600 social and affordable apartments two kilometres from the Brisbane CBD on a site that will have both a train and bus station and a dedicated Brisbane Metro Station just a short distance away.
“This is more than double the number of new public housing properties that the State has managed to deliver across all of Queensland since 2017.”
“Currently, the Cross River Rail Delivery Authority is proposing to allow only 15 per cent of the estimated 2000 apartments to be built on this site to be social and affordable and even that’s not guaranteed,” Cr Schrinner said.
Cr Sri said he is it good that the Mayor is putting some pressure on the State Government but said the proposed 30 per cent target “is pathetically low”.
“We’re living through the worst homelessness crisis in generations, so if inner-city public land is being redeveloped above a train station, 100% of any apartments must go towards public housing,” Cr Sri said.
“The bigger concern is that this site is publicly owned, so a target of only 30 per cent implies at least 70 per cent private sector housing, would make this one of the biggest asset sales of private development rights to public land in inner-city Brisbane’s history.”
Cr Sri said if Cr Schrinner is genuinely concerned about homelessness, he should be scrapping the Council’s existing laws that fine homeless people for sleeping in cars and public malls.
Cr Sri, in turn, is calling on the Mayor to allocate council land and funding to deliver new council-owned public housing and expand Council’s existing Community Housing Partnership Project.
Limit on car spaces
In his statement, Cr Schrinner also called for a strict limit on car spaces within the Gabba Station precinct.
“Outside the city centre, this location will have the best public transport access of anywhere in Brisbane,” he said.
“Some residents will see no need to own a car. Capping car spaces would have benefits for traffic movements through this area which is only going to get more complicated when the Gabba is redeveloped for Brisbane 2032.”
The Gabba Ward’s Cr Sri said he agrees with the Lord Mayor that any development above the Gabba train station should be completely car-free.
“The Greens position is that with the exception of a couple of bays for loading zones and disability parking, no off-street parking should be included on the site at all.
“We are also calling for at least 80 per cent of the site to be set aside as public green space, which still leaves a decent footprint for buildings.”
“It would a tragic missed opportunity if only 30 per cent of apartments on this site remained in public ownership – none of it should be sold off to private developers,” Cr Sri said.
In November last year, Minister for State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, Steven Miles, said the Gabba Station new land-use plan will include specific provisions for affordable and social housing and co-designed public space outcomes.
“It protects and maintains our commitment to ensure the Gabba precinct includes 50 per cent open space as well as affordable housing for nurses, teachers and other frontline workers.”
The Minister said the community will be able to have its say on the PDA in 2022 when a proposed development scheme is released for public consultation.
The construction of Cross River Rail is expected to be completed in 2024, with the work site then being used to build the new Gabba Stadium ready for the 2032 Olympics.
Cover image, concept design for Gabba Station,