For the past year, I’ve been calling on Brisbane City Council and the State Government to buy back the old ABC site at Toowong which was sold to a private developer about a decade ago. It would make the perfect spot to land a walking bridge to West End and build an incredible new riverside public park.
As part of this campaign we held a community vote on the idea, and more than 2,500 people had their say. We've formally closed the vote now, but you're welcome to communicate your vision for the site directly to me in an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can check out a summary of the results and the full (anonymous) transcript of what people had to say about the idea here.
Here’s an artist's impression summarising some of the most popular feedback we received:
Following this huge community pressure from my office and Greens Councillor for the Gabba Jonathan Sri, the LNP Council announced they would fund a green bridge from Toowong to West End. This is a major win, and an important and long overdue piece of infrastructure.
Here’s what we know about the bridge so far:
Where will it land?
Likely the old ABC site, but Council hasn’t confirmed the exact placement. We’ll be pushing for widespread community consultation about the location, and will continue to push for the entire site to become a public park.
Will it be walking/cycling only?
That’s what we are calling for. Buses at this location would make the project far more costly, and could result in loss of public green space. A walking/cycling bridge would encourage active transport, bust congestion and connect residents with great bus and cycling routes that already exist on either side.
I’ll keep calling on Council to buy back the whole ABC site so we can realise the community’s vision. It’s likely to be a hot topic at the Council elections in 2020. I’m also keen to ensure residents are actively consulted on the plans for the bridge, and to push the Council to start planning and construction as soon as possible. There’s also another bridge planned for St Lucia, but fewer details are known.
Why am I still pushing for the site to become a park?
All over Brisbane, we’re seeing public facilities and green space sold off, with hardly any new infrastructure to keep up with rampant profit-driven development. The former ABC site was publicly owned land, until the Federal government sold it to developers in 2013 for well below market value. In doing so, they sold off the last remaining riverfront site of its kind, and lost the opportunity to provide Toowong with much-needed green space and a connection to West End.
Within 200m of the former ABC site on the Toowong side there are a whopping 3,500 apartments, either existing, in construction or recently approved. Even still, half the public space in that same radius has been lost in the past few decades.
The owner of the ABC site is private developer Sunland’s. Their most recent application for 486 apartments at the site (the “Champagne Flutes” project) has now been scrapped. That means we have a unique chance to rethink how this space could be used, and an opportunity for governments at all levels to consider buying it back. This kind of buy-back would be an opportunity to invest in something that Brisbane residents could enjoy for generations to come.
Far too often community members are shut out of city planning decisions while the self interest of developers and property speculators takes the place of good planning. Brisbane City Council frequently runs tokenistic ‘consultation’ which is almost always ignored. We need to do better. To plan better cities we need to fundamentally transform and democratise our planning system to put power in the hands of the community.