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 at Toowong was publicly owned land, until the Federal government sold it to developers in 2013 for well under 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 is a whopping 3,500 apartments existing, in construction or approved. Yet half the public space in the same radius has been lost in the past few decades.
The private developer Sunland’s most recent application for 486 apartments at the former ABC site in Toowong has just been scrapped. This provides a unique chance to rethink how this space could be used, and an opportunity for the governments at all levels to consider buying back the site. 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 developers, property speculators and advertising agencies’ self interest take 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 restore power in the hands of the community.
BCC and the State Government have already identified the need for transport options (especially via cycling and walking) connecting this part of Toowong and Orleigh Park in West End. A bridge could ease congestion, encourage active transport and improve cross river connectivity.
The former ABC site could be an idyllic riverfront park and a perfect landing point for a walking and cycling bridge connecting West End and Toowong. Imagine if we used it to for a new public pool that everyone could enjoy, a spot to have a BBQ or picnic with friends or family, or a community hall for groups and events. The possibilities are endless.
But before I advocate a particular vision for this land, I want to know what you think should happen to the former ABC site, and whether you agree that this would be a good location for a walking and cycling bridge. Jonathan Sri, the local Councillor for the Gabba Ward and I have created a survey to give local residents an opportunity to have a meaningful say on what happens to this site.Please complete the community vote on a Toowong-West End bridge and the future of the old ABC Site and share it around with your mates.