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Bulimba Barracks Development

In early November the Bulimba Barracks Master Plan was approved by Brisbane City Council. Unfortunately, the final approval retains many of the serious issues we identified earlier this year. 

Beyond the issues we have discussed before it looks like the developer and council have snuck through some last minute changes. 

I know most of you are well aware of the concerns, but many of them are worth repeating now that we’re at this stage in the application process. I’ve also been speaking with the media to express these concerns on behalf of the community. 

In summary the Bulimba Barracks master plan is a 20 hectare site with 855 dwellings including apartments, townhouses and detached houses, with over 2000 extra residents. 

Here are my primary concerns about what’s been approved in the Master Plan: 

This is severely flood prone land.

First and most pressingly, almost the entire Barracks site sits within a floodplain, and the developer’s own drawings include basement carparks below already flood prone land. I’ve included the flood map below as a reminder if you haven't seen it yet.

With the increasing intensity and frequency of severe flooding events caused by climate change, and the predicted increase in sea level rises Brisbane is predicted to experience in the coming decades, this is deeply irresponsible. 

The developers solution to flooding risk is still to raise the land by up to 2.4 metres, which risks pushing flood water onto surrounding residents.Although it’s worth noting that the developers’ latest hydrology reports suggest that the development of the site will not push water onto surrounding residents, which I find very difficult to believe. Even these hydrology reports note that the site will be subject to flooding from both the river, overflow and “during major storm events.” 

All levels of government, including the Prime Minister, have talked a lot lately about not building homes in floodplains, yet here we have the council approving a massive development on land BCC’s own flood maps says is seriously flood prone.

The development provides not a single affordable home despite previously being publicly owned land.

As the Greens spokesperson for housing I’m spending a lot of my time right now pushing the federal government to invest in public and affordable housing. We’re in a severe housing crisis and what we absolutely do not need is more poorly planned luxury housing. We need to increase the supply of affordable housing options, and in particular we urgently need to build more public housing. The small portion of this land at the Barracks that isn’t on a floodplain should definitely be retained for affordable housing. Unfortunately not a single one of the 855 dwellings will be affordable housing.

It will cause traffic chaos for the entire peninsula and beyond.

Without any substantial investment in public transport this development will cause major traffic chaos, with the developers’ own traffic reports noting that several major intersections will be completely gridlocked as a result of traffic from the development.

Not only that but the developer’s traffic modelling assumes that Lytton Road will be widened to four lanes in the near future requiring resumption of private homes, which no resident in Bulimba, Balmoral, Hawthorne or Norman park have been consulted on. 

I also have significant concerns over what 2000 extra residents will do to traffic on Riding and Hawthorne Rd. 

The plans still destroy our much loved Tugulawa Park and the loss of over 800 established trees.

While it’s really great to see this Master Plan includes a significant new chunk of riverfront parkland, it will also see the destruction of much loved existing public parkland. 

Despite hundreds of submissions opposing the plans, the council has approved the developer to destroy Tugulawa Park for a private 4 lane road. As we’ve discussed before, this is particularly destructive given there is an existing access road to the west of the park. Tugulawa Park is now home to a much loved community garden, which under the current plans will be flattened for a road. What’s worse is that it looks like Shayher Group has reduced the amount of replacement public parkland by 500m2. 

Council has also allowed the developer to remove 844 of the 920 trees on the Barracks site, including many established gums and other natives. What’s worse is that council has approved a weakening of ‘deep planting’ requirements to make it easier for Shayher to avoid meeting their obligation to plant established trees on 10% of the ‘Community Heart’ precinct section of the site. This is a massive loss of urban vegetation and will almost certainly accelerate the urban heat island effect. 

So what happens now?

As I’ve said from the start of this master planning process, the entire site should be bought back by the Federal Government for public parkland, community facilities and a small portion of affordable housing in the areas not at risk of flooding. I also believe we need to put significant pressure onto the Brisbane City Council and State Governments in the leadup to the 2024 elections to commit to significant public and active transport, and other infrastructure upgrades as an urgent priority across the city. We need to increase density in the city, but it must be accompanied with investment in public transport and other crucial public infrastructure. 

Now that the Master Plan has been approved, under Queensland’s planning laws, the developer won’t be required to submit “impact accessible” applications for much of the future development applications. What this means is that there’ll be no required consultation and limited notification requirements. Significant work isn’t expected on the site for some time as any construction will require future development applications.

I’d really appreciate hearing from you what you make of the approved application. I’m sure you, like me, continue to have significant concerns about what’s being proposed. I’d like to hear from you about what steps you’d like to see me, as your Federal MP taking now, and I’d also encourage you to make your thoughts well known to your local Councillor and State MP. 

What steps have I already taken?

On Saturday 22nd January, Adam Bandt, leader of the Greens, joined me in Tugulawa Park to announce a plan to buy back the Bulimba Barracks site. 

Under our plan, the Federal Government would acquire the land for the construction of things like affordable housing, a new public school, a massive expansion in public parkland, public pool, community facilities and a full-sized AFL field. But the final product would be subject to community consultation. The new plan would ensure the original Tugulawa Park is not bisected by a four-lane road. 

On Sunday, November 21st, 2021, we hosted a community forum on the Barracks Development to equip residents with the facts of the application, and the impact it will have on their local community. Following on from this, we ran a submission writing workshop on December 8th to give residents practical assistance in making their submissions. 

Shayher Group recently responded to these submissions against the development, and while largely ignoring our concerns, it’s interesting to note that they have conceded to our demands to retain the 10% deep planting requirement. 

Recently, Brisbane City Council has requested that Shayher Group make a series of significant alterations to their application around setbacks while asking for substantially more information from Shayher around the impact the proposed development will have on the surrounding area. In particular, BCC are demanding modelling and information on the impact the development may have on flooding in surrounding streets and roads. It seems like Council are worried that raising 20 hectares of flood-prone land over a meter with massive earthworks, may pose a flood risk to the surrounding area - go figure. We of course made this point in our submissions - but it’s good to see the council agree.