For the past couple of years, 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.
In August 2020, we learned that Sunland, the developer who owns the site, is selling it, which means a golden opportunity to buy back the land for public use. With the COVID-19 downturn, the government could probably get the site for a really good price, and save it from being permanently lost to private development.
I’m also pushing for Council to bring forward the planning and construction of the green bridge - right now they've set a huge 10-year timeline! So in mid-2020 I wrote to the Lord Mayor asking him to expedite the Toowong and St Lucia green bridges to create local construction jobs and increase local amenity as part of a post-COVID economic recovery plan.
Why am I 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. Just down the street, a major $450 million development proposal for the former Woolworths site at Central Toowong has been announced, which will mean even more families and activity in the area. Even still, half the public space in that same radius has been lost in the past few decades.
The history of the site - 2006-2019
As part of this campaign we held a community vote on the idea, and more than 2,500 people had their say. 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. In another win, in response to input from residents and my office, Council has also confirmed the bridge will be walking and cycling only, to encourage active transport without sacrificing significant green space, bust congestion and connect residents with great bus and cycling routes that already exist on either side.