Donald Simpson Centre building plans queried

Donald Simpson Centre expansion plans could include residential accomodation in a four storey extension

Residential accommodation in a four storey building could be part of Council’s Donald Simpson Centre expansion plans

Plans for a ‘community hub’ now threaten to dwarf the Donald Simpson Centre in Cleveland and may involve development on neighbouring parkland.

Donald Simpson Centre opened in 1987 to provide social, intellectual and physical activities for the seniors of the Redlands community. It has thrived at its Bloomfield Street location and is a popular meeting place with activities such as quilting, handicrafts, homeopathy and tutorials in information technology.

The Centre is built on Council owned land known as Donald Simpson Park. Both the Centre and the Park are on land zoned as open space.

Bigger on the inside?

Council's 2015 plan for a 2 storey building

Council’s 2015 plan for a 2 storey ‘hub’

In December 2015 Redland City Council unveiled preliminary plans for a modest two storey building on the eastern side of the Centre to be a ‘community hub’.

Community groups which were mentioned at the time as possible users of the new facility included Star Community Services, Anglicare, RDCOTA, U3A, Multicap, Cleveland Meals on Wheels and Redlands Community Centre according to a Bulletin report.

More recently, it appears that the Council now want to develop a four storey building which will include two storeys of residential accommodation.It’s not clear how much of the neighbouring Donald Simpson Park would be sacrificed for the proposed development.

The expansion now proposed has unsettled some members of the Donald Simpson Centre.  In response, the Board has invited feedback from Centre members observing that the number of uses and users under consideration would require Dr Who’s ‘bigger on the inside’ Tardis.

What about the parkland?

Donald

Donald Simpson Park serves as an overflow car park

Apart from concerns about increased demand for parking, traffic congestion and conflicting uses in a community facility there’s the issue of community parkland being commandeered for other uses.

Consultation with the broader community including park users is long overdue.

This area is green space well used by walkers, joggers, and bike riders It’s also a key link in the Ross Creek koala corridor.

When the Council planned to rezone and sell off parkland in 2015 the community reacted with outrage and Councillors responded with a pre-election backflip.

The Centre and its surrounding Park are shown as open space in the Redlands Open Space Strategy.

When the Open Space Strategy was prepared, Council reported that it “undertook a range of community engagement activities from March-June 2012 to gather community feedback which was used to help finalise the Strategy.

If the Open Space Strategy was built on community consultation then any major changes should also be discussed with the community.

Is this another done deal?

In light of the recent ‘food market in a car park‘ deal, where the community was kept in the dark until a development application was submitted, consultation on the expansion and redevelopment of the Donald Simpson Centre should precede any development application.

Has a private investor already done an “innovative” deal with the Council? If so, then now would be a good time for the Council to explain what commitments it’s made.

A change of both the type and intensity of use for a Park should be discussed with the community before the statutory development process begins. The development approval process is about adherence to the planning scheme; this applies to the Council as well as developers.

If you are concerned about the way this project is being handled, contact your local councillor and ask questions like:

  1. How far have plans progressed?
  2. Has a deal been done with a private investor?
  3. What is the design?
  4. How much will the footprint and height of the building be increased?
  5. Is this busy roundabout the best siting for traffic movements associated with activities like Star Transport and Meals on Wheels?
  6. How will the greatly increased community services, and the new residential and commercial uses be managed?
  7. How many more parking bays will be required?
  8. How much of the Park will be lost?
  9. How many trees will be felled?
  10. What will be the impact on Redlands’ koalas?

Redlands2030 – 22 August 2016

Donald Simpson Centre

Donald Simpson Centre

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4 thoughts on “Donald Simpson Centre building plans queried

  1. What’s happening with the community hub development? I heard the centre was challenging the development and looking to pull out of the deal.

  2. This “decision” should be challenged on constitutional grounds. Perpetrators would attract liability obligations for any breach of protocol, not the common people, and not public funds!

  3. Deals are done….then we, the people, can have a say from what I have experienced in the past and it still hurts on being silenced mid-sentence by Cr Beard when trying to save koala habitat trees by TAFE fence Alex Hills…mention of the word ‘trees’ triggered the response and I quote: “Done deal Amy”. End result? We lost our local koala population still missed by locals who loved their visits, knocking on a young girl’s window to show off the new offspring plus an elderly lonely woman’s home on the park who still today misses their visits. Had the development end Ingham St not been ‘ghetto’ style, due to insatiable greed with total lack of concern for community wellbeing, the community I live in, would still see koalas visit our backyard trees that brought smiles to faces of young and old alike as they travelled through TAFE grounds to cluster of food trees by the fence and into park where KAG helped me plant more trees in hopes of keeping this unique mammal among us now and into the future. When open spaces are filled as it seems Donald Simpson Centre park will be, then what chance is there for survival of Ross Creek area koalas?

  4. If the Park is a a park as stated in the open space strategy, how could Council blindly proceed o place more and high development on it. If Council has no respect for its own strategies and policies why should anyone else.

    Surely the first step was to seek to amend the open space strategy…it had been canvassed with the community …surely once adopted things stay that way until it is undone through proper and open processes.

    Further the scale of the development looks certain to overpower the Donald Simpson Centre itself. How do its members feel about that future scenario.

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