The Brisbane City Council rightfully identifies housing supply, diversity, and affordability as urgent issues for the city. Unfortunately, the Council’s suggested temporary local planning instrument (TLPI) for Kurilpa Point[1] won’t solve these problems for three reasons:

  1. It takes years to build residential towers, and more housing is needed in Brisbane this year.
  2. The city needs a better range of housing types and tenures throughout the city, not just more of one type of housing at one location.
  3. Private developers can’t achieve affordable housing at Kurilpa Point as it is the highest-value land in the city.

The TLPI looks to one sector (the high-rise private residential development sector) in one location (on the banks of our flood-prone river at Kurilpa) as its key solution to the city-wide challenge of urgently increasing housing supply, diversity and affordability. That won’t work. It is not the role of high-rise developers to quickly produce diverse and affordable housing. They simply can’t do that.

It took over six years to build the 90-storey Brisbane Sky Tower on Margaret Street in the City, and that was before COVID constrained the supply of steel, concrete and construction workers. High-rise residential towers have their place in every World city. But they are complicated to build and won’t deliver housing diversity or affordability.

The Kurilpa TLPI is asking the Brisbane community to trade off unspecified heights for community benefits, including affordable housing. How does the Kurilpa Point TLPI deliver the community benefit of affordable housing?

The TLPI proposes that developers can choose two ways to provide affordable housing if they want to do that. These are not compulsory.

The two ways are:

  1. Give over 20% of the units to rent at 10% below the market rate for five years. Everyone in Brisbane knows that 10% below market rent in the inner city is not ‘affordable housing’.
  2. Give over 50 units as guaranteed rental housing for ten years at private market rents. We know that much of the residential tower will be investor-owned and rented. This is not an additional community benefit.

Kurilpa Point has the State’s (arguably Australia’s) best example of affordable housing right now in the Brisbane Common Ground building in Hope Street, South Brisbane. The building was achieved by a community housing provider working together with each sphere of Government and philanthropic donations. On-site support services are provided for the tenants by  Micah Projects, while property management and intensive tenancy management services are provided by Common Ground Queensland. An independent evaluation shows that it is an outstanding success for its tenants, many of whom have experienced homelessness. We need more of this!

More housing in Brisbane is an urgent and complex problem for all of us. Brisbane Common Ground shows that solving complex problems requires people from many sectors to work together. Each sphere of Government, community housing providers, private developers and investors, built environment and housing industry specialists, the construction industry and its unions, tenant and landlord advocates and the city’s residents need to come together to unpack the problem, agree the solutions and play their part. Brisbane is good at coming together, and we need to do that urgently for a multi-sectoral city-wide housing solution.

[1] Temporary Local Planning Instrument 1/2023 – Kurilpa Sustainable Growth Precinct


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Cover image, Brisbane Common Ground, Hope Street, South Brisbane. Photography: Katie Bennett.