A major development proposal for South Brisbane’s central Kurilpa precinct has entered the consultation phase, in the wake of recent disagreements and opposition to the plan.
The Kurilpa plan aims to transform the riverfront area to provide thousands of new homes whilst preserving the city’s character and lifestyle. However, the Kurilpa planning instrument has been the subject of contention, particularly surrounding the inclusion of affordable housing options.
Community groups like Kurilpa Futures and the West End Community Association (WECA) recently held a rally to express their opposition to the proposal. They argue that the plan will lead to extensive development in a flood-prone area and lack adequate social infrastructure to support the growing population.
Community groups also question the claim that the plan will increase the supply of affordable housing. They believe that the plan could drive land speculation, leading to even higher housing costs and displacing low to moderate-income residents.
Criticisms, protests from residents
On 17 July 2023, residents in South Brisbane took to the streets in protest this morning, opposing the Council’s plans to raise the height limit in the area to 90 storeys or 274 meters. WECA president Seleneah More criticized the Temporary Local Planning Instrument (TLPI) as “densification by stealth.” She argued that developers already had approved projects since 2018 in South Brisbane that would provide 1000 to 1500 new units, questioning the necessity for further height increases.
More further criticised the TLPI for not mandating affordable housing requirements for developers within the area. She pointed out that the Council’s definition of affordable housing meant rental prices only 10% below market rates, which fell short of the State Government’s definition of 30% below market rates.
The protesters also demanded a more extensive public consultation process, including drop-in sessions and opportunities for residents to engage with town planners.
In response, Deputy Mayor Krista Adams accused the protest of being influenced by “the Greens’ radical politicking,” though WECA and Kurilpa Futures have no connections to the Greens or any other political party. Adams argued that the Greens had opposed numerous housing projects, including 10,000 new homes in the Kurilpa Precinct, exacerbating the housing crisis.
State & Council addressing concerns
Last month, Housing Minister Meaghan Scanlon wrote to Cr Schrinner, citing public concerns and stating it may block the proposal if it does not include adequate affordable and social housing, whilst also praising the inclusion of green spaces and sustainability initiatives in the Plan.
Deputy Premier and Planning Minister Steven Miles and Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner have decided to proceed with the consultation phase for the proposal, confident that it will address the Minister’s concerns and allowing two weeks for public and industry feedback.
Mr Miles expressed support for enhancing housing supply and reducing urban sprawl in the region but maintained his reservations about the availability of affordable options. He emphasised the need for the proposed temporary local planning instrument to focus on increasing housing supply, affordability, and diversity.
For its part, Brisbane City Council remains confident in the Kurilpa plan’s ability to provide suitable measures to address the points raised by the Housing Minister in her missive and urged the government not to allow any red tape from stopping any new homes being built in the midst of a housing crisis.
“I welcome the State Government’s decision to progress our Kurilpa Sustainable Growth Precinct plan to the next stage,” Cr Schrinner said.
“The Kurilpa plan will deliver thousands of new homes while protecting the character of Brisbane’s suburbs and the lifestyle our residents love.
“In exchange for CBD-style height limits, residential buildings throughout Kurilpa will need to meet higher sustainability standards and deliver community benefits, such as housing diversity and affordability and public facilities.
“Given the area’s incredible existing connectivity to train, bus and active transport infrastructure, Kurilpa will be Brisbane’s most sustainable community, where owning a car really is optional.”
Consultation process opened
The consultation process for the Kurilpa plan aims to collect opinions from various stakeholders, community members, and industry representatives, with a particular emphasis on assessing the potential impact of the Kurilpa plan on housing supply and affordability.
A feedback portal has been set up, where residents can submit their comments and concerns regarding the proposed changes until 26 July 2023.
The feedback from the consultation will be considered along with advice from the Planning Department before a final decision is made. If approved, the Kurilpa plan will undergo an additional public consultation process and take 18 months to two years to be incorporated into the local planning scheme.
Maurice McCallum, a spokesperson for Kurilpa Futures, expressed concerns that South Brisbane was already projected to have an additional 36,000 residents by 2046 under the existing height limits. But he also said that the TLPI’s maximum height would lead to an increase of 120,000 residents, resulting in an overcrowded population density.