Survey asks what you want built at old ABC Brisbane site

Politicians from all three levels of government have come out in a renewed push to reclaim the old ABC Toowong site for the people.

State Greens MP for Maiwar, Michael Berkman, and his Brisbane City Council colleague Jonathan Sri will launch a community survey this morning asking for input into what should be done about the site.

Mr Berkman said they favoured a developer levy to buy the land for open space or a green bridge.

“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,’’ Mr Berkman said.

“Imagine if we used it for a new public pool, a spot to have a barbecue or picnic, or a community hall for groups and events?’’

Jane Prentice, the federal LNP MP for Ryan, called on the Commonwealth to buy back the site, saying it was ideal for a regional park.

The Federal Government sold the 15,000sq m site in 2013 for $20 million despite Brisbane City Council lobbying for it to be turned into parkland.

The ABC abandoned the site due to a cancer cluster blamed on radiation.

Developer Sunland wanted to build three distinctive highrise towers, dubbed the “champagne flutes’’, but the project was knocked back by the Planning & Environment Court after an appeal by a wealthy neighbouring couple.

Sunland managing director Sahba Abedian said in January that his company was working on an amended residential project.

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But Mrs Prentice said the site was ideal for a regional park as it was the only large space left in an area dominated by apartments and was well serviced by trains, buses and CityCats.

“Taxpayer money was used to buy the site so I propose we reacquire it for a regional park,’’ Mrs Prentice said.

“Can you imagine a couple of hundred new units going up and the impact of that on the (High St/Coronation Drive) intersection?

“We’ve been trying to reclaim boths sides of the river now for a long time for the people.

“Just imagine a concert venue there?’’

Artist’s impression of the triple tower Sunland tried unsuccessfully to have built on the old ABC site.

Mr Berkman said 3500 new units had been built, or approved, in the past decade only 200m or less from the site.

“All over Brisbane, we’re seeing public facilities and green space sold off, with hardly any new infrastructure to keep up with this rampant profit-driven development,’’ he said.

“Cr Sri and I are aiming for at least 1000 responses to our new community vote.

“To make a city that works for everyone, big developers need to pay their fair share.

“That’s why I’m asking residents about a bridge levy on major developments in Toowong and West End that could fund vital public infrastructure like green space or the new walking and cycling bridge.’’

Cr Sri said there had been various studies and plans for a bridge over the years, but none had ever given local residents a direct vote to gauge what they thought.

“A bridge for pedestrians and cyclists would give West End residents a direct link to Toowong Village and train station as well as a shorter, safer cycling route to UQ,’’ he said.

“Improving active travel connections between the inner-south and the inner-west would help take cars off Coronation Drive, Montague Rd and the William Jolly Bridge, benefiting the whole traffic network.

“A lot of inner-south residents need to go to Toowong and St Lucia for work, recreation or study, but opening up a direct connection to the Toowong train station and the Ipswich line would also greatly improve access to places like Indooroopilly and Sherwood.

“Pedestrians would be able to walk from central Toowong to Boundary St, West End in around 20 minutes.”

State Greens MP for Maiwar, Michael Berkman, outside the old ABC site.

Cr Sri said that if the majority of residents voted in favour, it would become Greens policy for the 2020 council election.

“I think a bridge is a great idea, but if my residents vote against it, I won’t push it,” Cr Sri said.

“BCC officers are currently working through options for footbridge designs and exact locations, but we imagine a footbridge might stretch from the former ABC site in Toowong towards Ferry Rd in West End.

“Any impacts on public parkland would need to be offset by new green space nearby.

“Bridges are much cheaper if they don’t have to carry cars or buses. We believe the footbridge could be partially or even fully funded by a levy on property developers.

“When big developers build new apartments or commercial projects nearby, they would benefit financially from this new public infrastructure.

“It makes sense to make sure large developers in the immediate area pay their fair share towards a bridge, green space or public facilities.

“Whether the bridge gets support or not, there is still a strong need for a new citycat stop on the western side of West End.

“A CityCat stop and a footbridge would be complementary projects that would help get a lot of cars off the road.

“As West End densifies, we need to improve active travel connections in all directions, and access to the inner-west is one of the biggest gaps at the moment.”


Brendan O'Malley, Westside News, 13 February 2019

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