In June 2021 we heard the Sisters of Mercy are selling their former convent site on the slopes of Mt Coot-tha in Bardon. The site is massive - about 15 hectares or 150,000sqm on a huge block of bushland across Simpsons Rd from suburban homes, and next to the entrance to the walking tracks in Brisbane Forest Park.
On paper, this beautiful site is protected by Council rules against tree-clearing, thanks to its high ecological value, but real estate agents claimed that buyers could build “multi-residential, retirement, gated community, health and wellness precincts or a major home site for a high-net-worth private investor”. So after local residents in Bardon and surrounds contacted me, we organised a community campaign to protect the site from development.
Almost 2,000 people signed our petition to Council to use their Bushland Acquisition fund to buy the property and protect it, with the existing convent buildings to be used for the benefit of our community.
Unfortunately in August 2021, despite significant pushback from the community, the Sisters of Mercy site was sold to coal mining billionaire and LNP donor Brian Flannery. The purchaser did say that he plans to use the property for "not-for-profit" purposes, but didn't specify what that means.
When the site was for sale, I wrote to the Lord Mayor asking him to publicly confirm that Council will enforce their own Neighbourhood Plan and tree clearing rules, and urging Council to consider buying the site. In response, Council committed to do so, and it's important we hold them to that promise after they missed the opportunity to buy this land and properly protect it.
If you'd like an update on the Sisters of Mercy site, feel free to reach out to my office by emailing [email protected].