Another community hotspot: Muller Street, Redland Bay

Muller Street residential design

Subdivision design (click to enlarge)

Community concern over a proposed subdivision at Muller Street Redland Bay is becoming another Redlands2030 Hotspot.

A recent decision about relaxation of koala protection rules for this development raises questions about Redland City Council’s protection of environmental values and the way that Council makes some of its decisions.

The proposed residential development ROL005924 is for 64 lots on a 7.82 hectare site, with an average lot area of 507 sqm. The biggest block is 982sqm, the smallest is 420sqm with most blocks being 450-500 sqm.

The development site owned by Harridan Pty Ltd adjoins their existing development (to the east).

The earlier development points to special value

Site of the proposed Muller street subdivision

Site of the proposed Muller Street subdivision (click to enlarge)

This land straddles Weinam Creek, a permanent waterway in this part of its catchment.

On the Council’s Bushland Habitat overlay, the site includes an Enhancement Corridor (light green) along the creek  overlay and  Bushland corridor (dark green) the the west.

On the northwest corner regrowth is well established comprising paperbarks, eucalypts and she-oaks (generally less than 10 years old) while in the southeast the vegetation is more sparse and probably no more than 15 years old.

The site adjoins Cleveland-Redland Bay Road to the south, the Muller Street road reserve to the north and residentially zoned land to the east and west.  The well established Low Density Residential subdivision (Ridge Street) was seemingly approved in a period of “planning enlightenment”, as these large prestige blocks include  covenants for environmental purposes.

The covenants protect trees and prohibit development within the covenant area and as one objector points out “our property has a nature corridor along the back that we are not allowed to fence, all of us have dog fences to allow the wildlife to move freely between properties”.  The covenants are within the Bushland Corridor.

Given the protection afforded by these covenants a further strengthening of the corridor might be expected with and from the available mapping the bushland corridor extends into the subject site. There seems reason to expect augmentation of the established corridor (possibly 3-5 metres wide along the western boundary of the applicant’s land) should be retained to provide tree protection but also provide a reasonable transition between large residential blocks and proposed small lot development.  This protection zone is missing in the subdivision design

First step: amend the classification under the Koala SPP

Planning issues at Muller Street

Planning overlay at Muller Street

The first question asked of Council (and the recommendation considered at the Council meeting) was an application to amend the site’s classification under Division 9 of the South East Queensland Koala Conservation State Planning Regulatory Provisions (Koala SPRP).

The applicant provided an ecological report recommending that the site’s south eastern corner classification is more akin to Medium Value Rehabilitation as opposed to the High Value Bushland classification for that part of the site.

Unfortunately, the existing covenants (shown with a broken line in the subdivision layout top right and in dark green below right) are not mentioned in the officers report…probably these are not relevant under the section and division of the koala SPP but of course natural systems don’t abide by the cadastral boundaries.

It is reported that the north-western and central parts of the site contain denser and more recent regrowth that has occurred in the last 10 to 12 years. The ecology report argues that this area likewise is not Rehabilitation Habitat. There is a mix of koala habitat and non-habitat species in the regrowth, which provides food, shelter, and allowance for koala movement.

The officers report explains that “in time, if left alone, this may become closed forest and open woodland and eventually be classifiable as Bushland Habitat”.  

This is an interesting observation given the growing use of “offsets” as a means by which native vegetation can be removed. The report went on to explain the regrowth process would take many decades and the likelihood of it happening in this exact location is too difficult to predict, as it is dependent on a number of unknown factors – environmental, town planning, demographic and economic.  So, it is determined  the vegetation will only be of value (under the SPP) “in time”

“Rubber stamping” of workshopped decisions?


At the General meeting held 21 October 2015 (Agenda item 11.2.3) the recommendation was that the koala habitat type for part of the land designated High Value Bushland is changed to Medium Value Rehabilitation for the purpose of applying divisions 4 to 7 of these State Planning Regulatory Provisions. 

While five Councillors opposed the recommendation the vote was tied with the deliberative vote of Councillor Beard.   His justification being “we workshopped this yesterday”…”the land is zoned for residential purposes”.  He then used the casting vote as Chair of the meeting to support the motion, which was carried.  You can view the Council Meeting discussion of item 12.2.3  on a videorecording.

This appears to be yet another instance where councillors have made up their minds about a planning issue in a behind closed doors workshop, before it gets publicly rubber stamped at a formal Council Meeting.

Existing vegetation at Muller Street

Existing vegetation at Muller Street

Interestingly, the other rationale given by the Deputy Mayor for his decision was  that the land was zoned residential.  The zoning was not mentioned in the report although the officers report stated “the Planning Scheme is not relevant to the assessment of the current request“.

When another Councillor had raised the development application the ever ready Cr Gleeson moved a point of order about the relevance.  Cr Beard dismissed the point of order ….. perhaps with his own expressed reasoning  in mind.

Neither the workshop nor the zoning were canvassed in the officers report as a reason to be considered in making a decision, presumably because these aspects had no relevance to the decision the Council had to make.

Locals warn about the Development Application

Local resident Greg Underwood has made the following comments about this proposed development:

The adjoining lands (now being developed) are on higher land, with less environmental value due to lower slopes and less significant creek drainage. Lot 17-92 has steep slopes (15%) and given the average lot size (about 500 sqm) there will be a total loss of vegetation in the developed area and a significant amount of earthworks including retaining walls.

I hope that the existing covenants on lots in Ridge Street (shown with a broken line in the subdivision layout) are considered by the officers writing the planning report and the whole of the bushland habitat corridor is protected in the likely event of a development approval.

By any proper town planning assessment this development would not proceed as proposed, however it seems unlikely council officers will apply the planning criteria as provided for in the existing planning scheme (slope,vegetation,creek corridor,corridor preservation).  An increasing number of people believe this is because of a reluctance to raise the displeasure of Councillors should the developer chose to appeal the Council’s decision.

It is often the case that development conditions are negotiated with the developer prior to any appeal. The approach being taken seems likely to be supportive of the development and development industry.  It is not the proper approach to achieve the best community outcome for this development or for development in the Redlands area in general.

Will regrowth be the “death knell” for offsets?

Council’s report shows the north-western and central parts of the site contain denser recent regrowth that has occurred in the last 10 to 12 years. It is reported as a mix of koala habitat and non-habitat species in the regrowth, which provides food, shelter, and allowance for koala movement.

The assessment concludes that in time, if left alone, this may become closed forest and open woodland and eventually be classifiable as Bushland Habitat.

This is an critical comment given the increasing interest in  using vegetation “offsets” to enable developments to proceed and for vegetation to be removed.  New plantings of trees are put forward as compensatory habitat but clearly the delay between planning and a useful patch of vegetation is generational.

For example, the proponents of the massive Shoreline development claim in their advertising that they will plant “350 000 trees to …to create 2.7 km of new wildlife corridors“. The generational time lag is not mentioned, but clearly a functioning ecosystem is at best 20-25 years after the plantings.


Redlands2030 – 3 November 2015

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4 thoughts on “Another community hotspot: Muller Street, Redland Bay

  1. Mr Turnbull says: Look after the koalas. Developers won’t. We saw how hated they were at Ormiston when 27 koala habitat trees on perimeter of a paddock locals wanted to buy, were bulldozed and a resident koala then died. Ex AWU Labor MP Jim Elder Capalaba told my neighbour 20 some years ago that the only koala we will see in future is in the zoo. This council seem to be in a hurry to make it happen. I remember at Redland Sporting Club where Alan Beard looked at me and said: “sorry Amy but the Redland koala is doomëd!”. Developers are not to blame, the local, State and Federal governments are… as they bury their heads in the sand.

  2. What an absolute joke! Why bother having any land zoned as environmental land. The title “rehabilitation” is an absolute joke… I think it’s actually code for `we’ll keep this land under the guise of rehabilitation, until you’re ready to develop it’! Rehabilitation means that the Council has spent my money, my neighbours money and the community members money to buy and plant trees to bring it back up to a standard where koalas and other animals can survive, only to rip it all down and place yet another slab of concrete on it. Can I get a refund????

    As a taxpayer I would love the majority of the land to remain as high density environmental land for the animals. Do we need to continuously rape and pillage the land for the sake of even more housing? I really enjoy the fact that all of these decisions go on behind closed doors, with no public say and is only brought out in the open, when everything has been decided. I can’t wait for March when we can vote these development loving and development supportive council members out!

    Can I ask what the thought pattern was behind making this area into a rehabilitation area and find out what’s changed between then and now? On another point, why is the corridor being spoken about in such a way as to hint that even this will be developed because of the slope of the area and the absolute mismatch to being suitable for housing? In other words, the council are trying to get people on side for the development, by stating that a 3-5m area would be set aside as a wildlife corridor, which would be fabulous, but unfortunately have also stated that if needed, this area would be developed because they will need retainer walls and drainage to cope with the possibility of flooding. Maybe they should just leave the area as is.

    Why are councillors allowed to just rezone areas to suit their wants at the time? What purpose does zoning serve if it can just be rezoned at any time?

    Why is state protected/zoned land being rezoned by Council – is this allowable? Andrew Laming should be speaking to his constituents about the hot topic of land usage and find out what the majority want and then take these wishes to Canberra to fight for what the people want, instead of spending all of his time visiting cafes, golf courses and restaurants.

    I also don’t understand how developers are allowed to develop areas – tear down and destroy hundreds of mature trees and vegetation and wildlife habitats, resulting in loss of native animals (which are supposed to be protected), all because they promise to replant 350,000 trees for the wildlife? Are they that stupid as to think the animals are just going to pack their bags, go on a few cruises, visit their relatives interstate and take a few world trips while they wait the 15-20 years for the trees to mature? By the time the trees are able to maintain an animal population in and around them, the animals will be long gone – AND YOU CAN’T GET BACK ANIMALS WHO HAVE BECOME EXTINCT!

    I’m extremely disappointed in the people who have been voted in, as guardians of our city, as they make decisions based on personal gain instead of what’s best for the city. I hate that they don’t encourage community help, input and support for their projects – instead choosing to do things in an underhanded way, with doors closed, and completely go against what the Redlands stands for! It’s one thing to support development, but a whole other thing to use your position to turn all situations towards enhancing your own beliefs and end goals. I think you are traitors to your position, to the community who you work for and you should all be ashamed for playing your part in destroying our beautiful Redlands!

    • Well said, Sarah! I couldn’t agree more with your sentiments. These Councillors just have to go. It seems that Redland Council is not needed, in the scheme of things. When I spoke personally to Cr Julie Talty at one of the Victoria Point City Plan 2015 public talkfests, she told me that the council is only following State Government directives (not even guidelines) and that they have no choice but to comply. In other words, don’t blame us.
      I propose that the council be completely disbanded if they are not able to fight for what we, the ratepayers, require Redlands to be ie to protect our Koala population, decrease the speed of development, abide by the current zoning criteria and STOP changing all the agreed laws and zoning criteria to satisfy Developers’ money-grubbing proposals.

  3. The developers can do anything they want. The council does not care about Koalas, they are just a problem to them that they want brushed under the carpet.

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