The Draft City Plan 2015 is a sloppy and inadequate piece of work.
The Redland City Council is actively planning for a huge 50,000 increase in population without explaining how employment and infrastructure will be provided to support these people. Impacts on the area’s environment and heritage are not explained either.
Redlands would change from a pleasant and desirable provincial area into poorly serviced suburbs of the Brisbane-Gold Coast metropolis, under this plan.
A good plan should have a clear vision, be based on sound assumptions and adequately address all key issues. The Draft City Plan fails on all three counts. Three strikes and out is the rule in baseball. It should be the rule for city plans too.
Anyone concerned about the future of Redland City should consider the Draft City Plan very carefully and make submissions about its deficiencies.
A distorted vision for the City
The City’s vision, as set out in the Community Plan, is distorted in the Draft City Plan.
Instead of a careful, balanced approach to city development which recognizes the need to preserve the things that make the Redlands special, the City Plan has a simple objective. It’s to pack in 50,000 more people and, more importantly, justify the need for 26,000 more dwellings.
The Draft City Plan assumes a population “just over 200 000” in 2041, about 50,000 more than the current city population of 148,641. This is inconsistent with community values researched and documented for the City’s Community Plan.
The Council claims that the State requires Redland City to take its share of projected statewide population increases. However, questioning by Redlands2030 confirms that there is no explicit directive from the State Government. The Council has advised that it assumed a rate of population increase, in line with State government projections, and then sought endorsement of this assumption from the State Government via its review of the Draft City Plan.
The Draft City Plan takes no account of the Priority Development Areas (PDA) at Toondah Harbour and Weinam Creek. It has not addressed the question of Shoreline’s proposed development. The net effect of these proposals could be to increase the City’s population by a further 15,000 to 20,000. The Draft City Plan does not explain any potential impacts of these possible developments on infrastructure, congestion and the costs to Council.
City Plan Assumptions
Having decided that it needs 50,000 more people to keep the residential building sector humming along, the Council then addresses the question of what work will they do. It says that there will be 28,000 new jobs without any clear and logical explanation of what people might be doing. There is no planning for new industrial estates, technology parks and the like.
In recent years, the number of local jobs in Redland City has actually declined by about 2,000: from 43,485 in 2011 to 41,506 in 2014 according to NIEIR.
The Council has failed over the past three years to produce an economic development strategy. Any assumption that local jobs will grow by about 1,000 per year over the next 25 years seems like reckless wishful thinking.
What the plan does not do
The plan pays lip service to environment and heritage issues. About the environment it says (page 22):
Highly scenic natural and productive rural landscapes support resilient fauna and flora communities. Throughout the city, recreation and wildlife corridors connect people, places, habitat areas, waterways, wetlands and foreshore areas. Development will be carefully managed to protect significant habitats, wildlife corridors, ecological functions and scenic landscapes. While occurring as intended under the relevant zone, development is to be undertaken in a manner that avoids or minimises and mitigates (and in some cases offsets) impacts.
If you were a koala who could read, how much comfort would you take from that paragraph?
Generally, this plan treats the environment as something that gets in the way of development. The plan has no environmental conservation objectives relating to the protection of koalas and other important species. They appear to be expendable.
Instead of planning for new parks and open spaces to serve the extra 50,000 people, the Draft City Plan intends to rezone existing green space for residential development.
Heritage issues are dealt with in a similarly disdainful manner.
If Redlands is going to have 50,000 more people, most would expect there to be a carefully thought out Local Government Infrastructure Plan. All you will find, on page 35, is this statement:
The Local Government Infrastructure Plan (LGIP) will form part of the Redland planning scheme on commencement
So the community should just assume that Council will make things up as we go along. It’s that sort of city plan.
A new deal on cities
The Federal Government under Prime Minister Turnbull is proposing “A new deal on cities”. He says that cities need to be better planned, have adequate infrastructure and be greener.
Back in 2013 Malcolm Turnbull said about population density that:
“The truth is that density is not the problem, density is the solution, but density without infrastructure lacks amenity and density without amenity is congestion and is very unpleasant.”
Meanwhile, the Redland City Council is scheming for a big increase in population density without explaining to the community how quality of life, heritage and the environment will be impacted. It’s likely to be very unpleasant.
The scope and flavour of the Draft City Plan reflect a poor planning process with inadequate stakeholder consultation.
Since the new scheme was released for consultation on 14 September, the overwhelming comment to Redlands2030 has been that it was hatched in a bubble. It doesn’t address issues people are concerned about such as small lot housing, congestion, infrastructure capping, infrastructure renewal and maintenance, koala protection, sporting needs, public greenspace, heritage protection, protection of the ecology of Moreton Bay, smart jobs, smart economy and a future beyond housing construction, and loss of the very amenity that attracted people to the Redlands.
The State Labor Government’s decision to allow public consultation about this plan is disgraceful. They should have flicked it back to Redland City Council and told them to do the job properly, with proper community engagement.
Now is the time to have your say
Redlands residents should consider the Draft City Plan very carefully.
If anyone has any concerns about the plan as a whole, or any aspect of it, they should make a properly made submission to the Council.
A good starting point is the Council’s Draft City Plan webpage. People can start by using the interactive online entry tool to look at proposed zoning for their own property (although the “Find” button is not that easy to locate).
However, the zones and overlays in the Draft City Plan are not readily translated from the existing scheme because of new terminology, definitions and scope of the new zones is not a direct correlation to the previous scheme. Take advantage of City Plan information sessions to ask the Council’s planning staff for detailed explanations about the amount of development that could happen near you.
As well as making a properly made submission, feel free to air your views or ask questions via comments to this post. If we work together as a community sharing ideas and learning from each other then a better city plan can be developed.