Doris Day and the mudflats

What would Doris say?

In August 2013, the Redland City Council received a Toondah Harbour Market Assessment and Development Strategy Report from Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL). The nub of the report is that Toondah Harbour is very risky. Numerous questions regarding economic feasibility and environmental costs remain unresolved. Bottom line: it just won’t work. Why then did Council press ahead?

When I was just a little girl

The JLL report makes me think of Doris Day’s Que Sera. We all sang ‘Que sera, sera, Whatever will be will be. The future’s not ours to see …’

Even as a kid growing up with this song on the radio, I was not convinced that the future was out there, fully formed, waiting for me to come along.

As an adult, I know that no single person or group has tenure on the future. Individually and collectively, it is we who shape our future world. The only question is the one of intention and values: whose vision becomes realised?

The future’s not ours to see

Report author

Report author

Reading the JLL report, I was struck by three things. The first is JLL’s disclaimer acknowledging that the future is not theirs to see: ‘The process of making forward projections of such key elements involves assumptions about a considerable number of variables that are acutely sensitive to changing conditions and variations, and any one of which may significantly affect the resulting projections. This must be kept in mind whenever such projections are considered’ (my emphasis).

The second thing is how the report equally might apply to development potential at Raby Bay.

The third striking fact is that nowhere does JLL mention the economic (or intrinsic) value of any environmental assets (excepting water views).

What will be, will be

Ferry at Toondah Harbour

Ferry at Toondah Harbour

The vision of Toondah Harbour as a Gold Coast high-rise cluster – plus lots more cars and traffic – is not a community vision. It is a fevered fantasy indicating delusions of grandeur. There is no election ‘mandate’ or community consensus for this inappropriate development.

At Toondah Harbour, there is only the compelling need to revitalise existing port facilities and rationalise the parking and the barge transport-based traffic that courses through Cleveland to and from North Stradbroke Island.

Will I be pretty, will I be rich?

Mudflats and seagrass near Toondah Harbour

Mudflats and seagrass near Toondah Harbour

JLL’s report talks about “destinational attraction”. You would run a mile – or two miles to be more exact – away from Toondah Harbour to avoid its “attractions” which include: inclement prevailing winds, traffic bottlenecking, flooding, site pollution and significant environmental complications, terrestrial and marine.

The smart developer would look to Raby Bay which has a pleasant northerly aspect with attractive sandy beaches.

Sign reminding as about the Governor who got stuck in the mud here in 1843

In 1842 the Governor got stuck in the mud

JLL compares Toondah Harbour with Fremantle, Hervey Bay, Mooloolaba, Cairns and Manly. But which of those places face hostile south-easterlies 300 days of the year and mudflats that defeated a colonial governor?

The JLL report states Council is keen to have a marina ‘to activate the waterfront’– but a marina ‘is complicated to deliver’ and may not produce high enough returns; and lenders are not supportive of marina developments. Further, the shallow harbour ‘would require both substantial upfront dredging and an unknown level of maintenance dredging’. Would that be the ratepayers’ responsibility?

The residential component would deliver the largest financial returns, however, the residential market is ‘slow’, ‘shallow’. Developers regard Council’s infrastructure charges as being too high. JLL advises discounted infrastructure charges ‘to incentivise increased medium density development activity’. In other words, ratepayers must lure developers with attractive discounts – and presumably also pick up the open-ended, ongoing maintenance tabs associated with building in the harsh marine environment, and the cost of additional infrastructure such as road improvements, water supply and waste management.

JLL advises that a destinational attraction needs a bar/restaurant/hotel/retail component. Unfortunately in the case of Toondah Harbour, ‘the lack of established bar and restaurant development around the project and few retail projects of a comparable nature within the broader region means that the operator will be pioneering the product in a new market with no proven demand. This represents a significant risk which will likely need to be offset and addressed by the private sector or Council in order to attract a quality operator.’ (my emphasis)

Will we have rainbows, day after day?

There is a smarter plan Click to Enlarge

There is a smarter plan (click to enlarge)

The project will need to be significantly de-risked to attract a high quality operator. This may include upfront funding to establish the building’. Whoa, hang on here. The ratepayer will also be expected to ‘de-risk’ the project to attract a hotel/bar operator? This is as good as stating that the waterfront attraction is not attractive. Who is driving this crazy vision?

Even land tenure is shaky.‘Significant parts of the [development] site are not suitable tenure to enable procurement of the developer to deliver the project. The most significant of these issues is the Reserve tenure. Native Title is being investigated to confirm if it has been extinguished or not. The issue will need to be resolved to a level of certainty before the market can be formally engaged … The outcomes of this will determine the area able to be developed and in turn will influence the procurement process for how the site is taken to market.’

So there you have it. Toondah Harbour does not look like a sure thing, and the Mayor had been advised of this before the Council planners were set to work.

Whereas, Cleveland does have an almost ideal alternative site that has not even been considered in this exercise.

What lies ahead?

Raby Bay has north facing sandy beaches like this

Raby Bay has north facing sandy beaches like this

Why didn’t Council get JLL to look at nearby Raby Bay and assess its far richer, less complicated development potential, and leave Toondah’s natural environment intact.

Northerly orientation at Raby Bay is ideal. There is nearly a kilometre of under-used beachfront parkland. It’s an easy walk to the railway and CBD. Potential exists for new development sites on finger wharves built over the water – like those at Walsh Bay where the likes of Russell Crowe and Lachlan Murdoch enjoy harbour living.

Raby Bay is the wealthy district of Cleveland. It’s also where JLL has identified a potential market for high-end, medium-density residential accomodation: the owners of large houses at Raby Bay who want to downsize but remain in the area.

If Cleveland must have a ‘destinational attraction’, Raby Bay is, and always was, the only logical contender.

Post by Jackie Cooper

P.S. if you want to hear Doris Day sing it again here is Que Sera Sera on You Tube.

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11 thoughts on “Doris Day and the mudflats

  1. It’s so simple. If RCC wants to develop something big in Cleveland and put the city on the map, create an attractive tourist destination, then do it at Raby Bay — where the sheltered orientation makes sense, the mangroves and associated environmentally delicate habitats are already destroyed and so new development sites can be created in the context of an existing kilometre of North-facing waterfront parkland, where it’s close to the train station and CBD, and does not conflict with the busy workings of a 365 day/year port taking transit traffic through Cleveland. High-rise development at Toondah Harbour does not stack up. The site is flood-prone and toxic. Development here eats up public land, including a significant historic bayside park, and leaves a permanent legacy of expensive infrastructure for ratepayers to cope with. It obliterates rare and vital marine and terrestrial wildlife habitat. None of this damage can be repaired/reversed. RCC flagrantly ignored and suppressed informed community views. There was no proper consultation. The proposed Toondah Harbour overdevelopment is environmentally, culturally, commercially and morally bankrupt. It is designed to fail.
    Can’t we do better than chase after this crude, discredited, derivative development model?
    Cui bono?

    • Jackie the excuse that the transit centre has to be upgraded is nothing more than a front for more development, Williams and her foolish mates dont have a clue. They will leave Redlands in an awful mess, this was the vision of Don Seccombe when he was there back in 2006, just a poor plan recycled, it was a substandard plan then and nothing has changed

  2. In none of the development applications information I saw, was any information on how this project was going to assist Australia in meeting its international responsibilities under the RAMSAR agreement. Australia was one of the first signatories to the Agreement in 1971, the convention holds the unique distinction of being the first modern treaty between nations aimed at preserving natural resources. Australia has 65 designated sites, one of which is Moreton Bay. Moreton Bay has 6 of the required 9 criteria. It is one of the largest estuarine bays in Australia enclosed by a barrier island of vegetated sand dunes. Moreton Bay protects the local area from ocean swells and channels various rivers from the Great dividing Range. It supports large numbers of the threatened green turtle, hawksbill turtle, the most significant number of young and adult loggerhead turtles in Australia. Other nationally threatened species that the site supports are the Oxleyan Pygmy Perch, Honey Blue-Eye,, Water Mouse and Australian Painted Snipe. The site is ranked in the top 10 habitats for dugong. It supports 355 types of marine invetebrates, at least 43 species of shorebirds – 30 of which are migratory species listed by international migratory bird conservation agreements- 55 species of algae associated with mangroves, 7 species of mangroves and 7 species of sea grass. This site supports over 50,000 wintering and staging shorebirds during the non-breeding season. How does a 400 boat marina, continual dredging, 10 story unit development, destruction of habitat, meet those responsibilities – just ignoring red tape, taking away public lands, won’t work! Re-develop Cleveland, improve the ferry facilities and parking for sure for Straddie residents but not the monstrosity shown to the community planning sessions which was apparently wrong any way! Our Moreton Bay is too precious to too many lives!

    • Well said Jan, hopefully now that Williams mates Seeney and Newman are out of the picture some common sense may prevail. Interesting that the developer donated to the LNP campaign

  3. Jackie so well written and well informed and such shame that The Mayor and her team don’t understand the report by Jones Lang LaSalle’. and I agree with Ton,i Doris would be proud to support such a worthy cause. This proposed development just cannot proceed.

  4. Interesting that the JLL Report dated Aug2013 that Jackie refers to states on page 2 : “… this confirms our initial preliminary assessment of the total size of a potential marina at Toondah Harbour is supportable at around 400 berths …” . If the Market Assessment Strategy prepared for Council says 400 berths, then where did the 800 berth marina touted by Mayor Williams and MP Mark Robinson come from when the proposal was released in Jan2014. Was it just pumped up so as to ‘give in’ to anticipated community concerns? Have our members knowingly sought to deceive their Community? What contempt!

    • Williams, Robinson and certain other. Councillors really hold their electorate in contempt. I said it right from the start that the 15 storeys/800 berth marina was pumped up so as to give the appearance of compromise when, on a whim, they reduced what had hitherto been an absolute must in order to ensure any developer had payback for their expenditure.
      The decision taken at the important council meeting to reduce to 10/400 was taken without even a calculation on a beermat. This clearly shows that the size, scope and economic imperative of the Toondah PDA is really being thought up on the hoof by this inept posse of self serving clowns.
      A tragedy for Redlands.

    • Tom just to clarify this issue, Mayor Seccombe had a report done back around 2006, it had the 400 berth marina and all the other bells and whistles and blow me down that report has reared its ugly head again. Some would say their 800 berth was very misleading all just to make people feel good by bringing it down to what they planned all along. Williams Will deceive, its all on the record.

  5. Development does not need to be on the water front at all. A four stroy unit in central Cleve;land would still have bay views and breezes. The water front should be retained untouched. Raby Bay was planned to have parks which can be used by anyone.

  6. Jackie so well done, well informed and shame that The Mayor and her team of noddies didnt understand the report by Jones Lang LaSalle’. Doris would have been proud of you sharing her music for such a significant issue.

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