It’s been nearly a year since Labor replaced the LNP in Queensland but not much has changed when it comes to transparency of planning and development.
Back in April 2014 The LNP government invited tenders to redevelop the car park at the Cleveland train station into a mixed-purpose transport hub, likely to include residential units. Since then the community has been given negligible information and no opportunity to have a say about development at this important transport facility.
After 18 months of procurement and planning, development application MCU013612 for a two tower apartment complex was quietly lodged with Redland City Council in November last year. The developer is Envisage Development Management.
Before this, the only inkling of activity was when Council agreed in February 2015 to hand back a small block of land to the State Government. The officers report stated:
The proposed future use of this parcel is to allow for its redevelopment as a free car parking station that will provide an extra 20 to 30 car spaces for commuters.
At the time, Cr Alan Beard declared a conflict of interest by association as his cousin was part of the development team..
The proposed residential development is for twin eight storey towers with a total of 124 apartments to be constructed over the northern car park.
The plan also includes removal of a large gum tree to allow construction of a small kiosk on the corner of Harbour View Court and Shore Street West.
Car parking at the train station
Cleveland MP Mark Robinson said in 2014 the project would result in more car parks at the station, according to the Redland City Bulletin. At present the station has 235 parking bays: 146 in the northern car park and 89 in the southern car park.
The developer is proposing to provide a net increase of 17 parking bays for rail commuters, a gain of just 7.2%.
The developer’s Traffic Engineering Report says 31 visitor car parks would normally be required for a development of this size but none will be provided.
The Report states:
The development proposal provides no dedicated parking for the retail or residential visitor uses on the site. Rather, it is proposed that the demand for these spaces is shared with the operation of the train station.
When demand for parking by visitors to the apartments is taken into account, there could be a net reduction in availability of commuter car parking. This problem could worsen if the Toondah Harbour development were to proceed.
Division 2 candidate Peter Mitchell told the Bulletin recently that car parks at Cleveland train station serviced by shuttle buses to the ferry terminal would solve the lack of parking at Toondah after Walker Group built its 3,600 units.
No tertiary institute but ‘some’ tourism accomodation
When the project was announced, Mayor Karen Williams said “Council is keen to see a tertiary institute to service our younger population and if it happens to be around the train station that’s great.”
The designs recently unveiled feature twin eight story apartment blocks but sadly there’s no mention of any tertiary education facility in the developer’s planning report.
In the first tower there will be three short stay or tourist accommodation units. In the second tower there will be “some” short stay tourist accommodation units. The Council assumes they mean another three.
No reason is given for there being so few tourism accommodation units in the proposed development. It’s possibly an attempt to ‘tick the box’ for receiving benefits under the Council’s Tourist Accommodation Incentive Package.
Will the community benefit?
The community has not been advised what the developer will be paying for use of Government owned land.
The developer claims in its planning report that:
The adopted approach also ensures a public benefit by providing an all-weather, covered commuter car park with additional spaces to be handed back to and managed by Queensland Rail. It will also enhance the commuter experience for those using the station.
This glosses over the fact that the developer is not providing any car parks for visitors to the residential apartments – which will place additional load on the rail commuter parking facilities.
Traffic from the new apartments’ residents will add to congestion in an already busy area.
Perhaps the most concerning aspect of the proposed development is that it appears sub-optimal use for a prime site. Wise use of transport infrastructure is essential if Cleveland is to develop and thrive.
A project development process which engages with the community is more likely to succeed than the secretive approach adopted by the LNP, and now Labor.
Redlands2030 – 26 January 2016
Update: Images of gum tree and northern car park added 7 February 2016