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Birdwood Road Park - September 2023 Update

Birdwood Road Park Update - 26 September 2023

We've had some big updates in our campaign for a new park on Birdwood Road, including a major concession from Brisbane City Council taking us a step closer to establishing parkland on the proposed site. But the private developer who wants to build on the creek next to the site is also fighting to keep their decade-old development alive with more extensions, and to restrict local access to the park. 

In this update I’ll explain all that’s going on, and I’ll let you know about our fresh opportunity for you to get involved and help build pressure on Council for our park campaign

But before I do that I want to give a quick shout out to the amazing community campaigners who have been hard at work on the steady building of this campaign. Thanks to their efforts we now have over 1,000 signatures on our petition for a new Birdwood Road Park - thanks to the incredible and ongoing work of local volunteers helping to spread the word.

Our amazing community campaigners have been out in the community knocking on doors, holding stalls and visibility actions, and putting up wonderful yard signs demonstrating the community support for this campaign. If you’re keen to get involved with the community Organising Committee, please let me know and I’ll put you in touch!

Birdwood Road parkland appears in Council’s new infrastructure plan

The good news: Recently, Brisbane City Council released their new draft Local Government Infrastructure Plan (LGIP). For the first time the draft plan now includes a new park on Birdwood Road. The plan (awaiting approval by Council) includes a “specific site” for a 2 hectare park up by the northern end of the Birdwood Road location (locals might know this as the area some horses use for grazing) - as well as a 1.6 ha ‘corridor’/local access park heading south along the Norman Creek part of the site.

This is the first time that a park on Birdwood Road has been included in Council’s infrastructure plan, and a huge credit to all of the community members who have helped build the pressure for this campaign. Of course, this makes up only a relatively small part of this huge parcel of land, it isn’t likely to prevent building on the rest of the site, and a project like this isn’t “real” until it’s actually funded in Council’s budget. The LGIP allows completion of the parks by 2031, obviously well beyond Council’s budget forecast, and more than two Council elections away. But this is a huge sign that the Council has been forced to respond to our pressure to protect and transform this long-neglected land into a beautiful park for the whole community, and I think we should see this as a sign to keep going.

Philip Usher wants to extend the life of their development, and cancel agreed bike paths

Here’s where it gets a bit weird. The developer, Philip Usher, who has long sat on their plans to develop the site, has put in a “minor change” application to Brisbane City Council, which will remove their existing requirement for a shared/bike path that connects Esher St and Birdwood Road with Roseglen St Park. 

This local active transport connection has been a key part of plans for a complete local bike network around Holland Park West (as well as a condition of development on the site), for at least a decade. The application is still pending with Brisbane City Council and hasn’t yet been approved, but only two weeks after Philip Usher applied to Council to remove the bike path, it’s disappeared from council’s draft infrastructure plan.

Extract from Brisbane City Council City Plan 2014 showing planned active transport links through Holland Park West. The developer at Birdwood Road now proposes to break this network by removing the links on their Birdwood Road site (shown in red).

And perhaps just as bad, Philip Usher is now claiming another extension on their development application. The development application was first approved in 2012 under now outdated planning instruments, and had already been extended twice out to 2024. Their claim now is that blanket extensions provided by the Planning Minister during COVID means they’ve now got until December 2026. So if this claim holds up, it means they’ll be able to build a sensitive aged care facility on a flood plain approved using planning rules, flood projections and so on that will be at least 14 years old. 

Really, I think that they have had their shot at this block of land, and it’s past time for the whole site to come back into public hands so that we can have a beautiful new park with facilities for the community, protect the sensitive Norman Creek, build-in local flood resilience and implement local active transport connections, like Holland Park deserves.

Given the strong community support for a park here, and the imminent development of the site, Council needs to urgently clarify their plans for the site to the local community. I’m asking Council to fund the complete public ownership and development of a public park on the site, to fight the call to tear up the shared path, and at least ensure that any proposed development be re-considered against contemporary planning rules and flood projections. 

Council still hasn’t made a formal decision on Philip Usher’s proposed changes. You can help add your voice and tell Council not to accept the continued development under old planning rules, and to keep plans for local bike path access through the site.

We’ve prepared a short submission guide - head here now to find out how to add your voice.

With a Council election just around the corner next year, these next 6 months will be crucial in building pressure on Brisbane City Council.

I know this has been a long and detailed update, so thanks for sticking with me. Feel free to pass this information along to your neighbours if they’re also interested in this local issue. Thanks again for all your interest and help with this campaign. Let’s keep going!

Head here to see how to make your submission.