The age of foolishness – in Redland City

Women's March on Versailles (1789) leading up to the "age of foolishness"

Women’s March on Versailles (1789): Image details

Writing about the French Revolution, Charles Dickens opened ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ with: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.”

Fast forward to the Redlands now – it is just the worst of times and the age of foolishness!

Redland City has devised novel ways to deal with public property, especially those bits loved and used by it’s citizens.  These incorporate the worst and most foolish ideas possible.

Giving this away is surely foolishness

Mangroves south of Toondah Harbour

With regard to the wonderful area of open space, beaches, mangroves and healthy, productive bay near Toondah Harbour, the Mayor simply gives it all away.

Not for profit, not to benefit the public, not to help the environment nor improve the quality of life – no the whole lot is given away to a developer for nothing.  Although we do get an additional 20,000 cars for our streets, 400 permanent boats for our diminishing bay and many 10 storey, view blocking, bay filling units.

Get ready to collect your set of steak knives but wait, there’s more!

Cleveland CBD foolishness

Redland City Council sells 1,500 sqm of land at 2-16 Wynyard Street Cleveland to LJ Hooker

Redland City Council sells car park land at 2-16 Wynyard Street Cleveland to LJ Hooker

In Cleveland, at the intersections of Middle, Wynyard and Shore Street West is a large car park.  It’s a leafy, shady space that allows easy access to the Post Office, Banks and shopping centre.

It is very much used and appreciated by locals and requires only crossing a single street with a safe pedestrian island to directly access the CBD.

Having such a valuable resource obviously needs attention.  So what does our not so clever city do: Sells it.

Yes, the parking area will be reduced by half, the numerous colourful, tall trees removed and a temporary, modular building with “iconic” tower will be built on the site.  A real estate agency will occupy the bulk of the construction and other shops will fill the remainder.

But no give away here –  well sort of no give away.  This busy public facility was given to the Redland Investment Corporation; and then they sold it.

Now in normal cities, the sale of public land is discussed with it’s citizens.  It’s often raised as an issue in election campaigns so the public have an idea of what is being planned.  In many cases their views are sought.

Not here in the Redlands.  Having learnt from the debacle that is Toondah, no public input was needed here nor, in fact, was anyone aware of what was happening until the sale was announced.

So to compensate for the loss of the parking spaces what is proposed?

Possibly, but only possibly, a few spaces may be added to those mainly vacant ones at the Performing Arts Centre.  Yes, those wanting to visit the Post Office will be able to park about a kilometre away, negotiate a busy street by a roundabout and walk the full length of the Middle St. CBD. to get their stamps or post a parcel.  And the shady, mature trees that will be removed?

No worries there either: they’ll be offset.  Like Walker’s offsetting the hectares of Moreton Bay they will destroy by suggesting they might plant something in China’s Yellow Sea, the parking space trees will be offset by a financial contribution to the City.  That should provide heaps of shade.

Oh, and, by the way, they’re not mature trees according to Councillor Peter Mitchell, they are “non-juvenile”.  He also notes that the sale of the land “is for the benefit of the community”.

Now in normal property sales a valuation is obtained from a professional valuer, the property is placed on the open market and the best price is obtained by competitive offers to buy or for public tender or auction.  However, not if you are Redland City.

What you do is get a Council officer to value the property, put it up for an “offmarket/competitive sales campaign” and, apparently, you get a “record sale price”.

And even though the sale is finalised, oddly enough, it really isn’t.  According to Councillor Mitchell regarding the doomed trees: “the offsets for this development had not been finalised when you last enquired”.

And the iconic tower that will be a boon to the Cleveland skyline?  Well get in early to have a look, as according to the developer “The proposed development is designed as an extended interim land use. It is acknowledged that the site will ultimately be suitable as a more substantial mixed use / residential development, with a height up to 23m (7 stories).” (sic)

Very sick indeed.

So much for openness and transparency and accountability and public benefit.

It would be wonderful to live in the best of times, an age of wisdom.

But it seems that in Redland City we are living in the worst of times, the age of foolishness.

 

Brian Whitelaw

 

If you enjoyed this post you might like the following post also by Brian Whitelaw:

Cleveland – it’s now Builders Paradise

Published by Redlands2030 – 14 December 2016

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5 thoughts on “The age of foolishness – in Redland City

  1. Gregor has it to a tee. But the momentum for higher density, higher development and greater yield is all about the Mayors “open for Business and Investment mantra. She said she would increase developer yields and that is what is happening… its no coincidence!

    Council should toss that policy out…now!

  2. Casting my mind back to the recent local government elections, which were particularly bitter in Cleveland. All candidates were espousing their community virtues and ability to represent the wider communities feelings. I have not once found a resident since the elections, or before, that has supported the rampant development posture of the last elected cohort and to that end not one resident that is in favour of the continuation of the broad stroke development approvals we are still seeing. Are our elected officials suffering from ostrich syndrome? Alter the city plan to reduce the speed of change in our community and have a deep breath council, then look at the infrastructure that is required to meet the Redlands of the future before its too late.

  3. Here’s some additional observations in accord with this theme. We have 2 PDA’s pending plus Shoreline, collectively representing 20,000 new residents, and that doesn’t include all the other multiple developments that have been green lit. Pending applications like MCU013782 Apartment Buildings 41 Units, Material Change of Use, Fernbourne Rd, Wellington Point, in advocating well over 100 people to live where only 7 live now across 3 existing residential blocks, with parking provisions, including tandem and visitor car-parking accommodating only 69 car parks, means more on-street car parking and greater road congestion again. To put that decision into perspective, consider that High security maximum prisons provide more space to their criminally charged inmates, with greater allowances of recreation & leisure space, amenities and job provisions. So what was the public’s crime to deserve less consideration? Proposed developments equate to the lowest percentage of green-space in any Australian CBD location at less than 17% (Comparisons: Sydney: 46%, London 30%). RCC proposed population densities equate to higher people concentrations than London. Laos and Hong Kong, despite Redland having less than 2.2% of the population in any of these three cities which all enjoy over 7 million residents. So much for the Redland “Salad Bowl” reputation! This level of development would put an additional 800+vehicles on the road per month, requiring a significant increase in policing, and surveillance costs, not to mention the increased crime and substance abuse and growing incidence of addiction and mental health issues, due to a palpable failure for our local authorities to deliver an equivalent investment in job creation.

    I note today’s front page in the Courier Mail, highlighting State requests to Federal Authorities to increase court funding to cope with the huge backlog of criminal cases awaiting a hearing. In the same week, our islands are maligned as having the worst crime rates in Australia (Redland City Bulletin, “Bay Islands Named as Bad For Vice”, 14/12/16, p26 ), so our local authority can’t plead ignorance as an excuse for the result they seem intent on perpetuating, having clear reference to expected outcomes for such persistent negligence, aggravated in higher densities again, with increased inadequacy of infrastructure and service provision. I’d love to hear what our Judicial authorities have to say about local development in this magnitude and the social and legal impacts of irresponsible planning that makes no local equivalent provision for jobs. If parking wasn’t already at a premium, then how are we to accommodate this many additional vehicles again, or encourage retail and commercial investment to create jobs for the mass of residents all this development is being built to accommodate? How can we ensure safe and secure shopping precincts, and are people prepared to put themselves at risk & enduring a 1 kilometre walk to their car?

    Only recently, our Taxi service was held to a standstill for over an hour when Ice addicts tried to secure a taxi, and Mothers with babies were forced to abandon a bus when 2 ice sufferers caused such a disturbance that the Bus Driver had to stop and experienced difficulty getting them to leave the bus without further incident.

    In view of all this, how can existing car parking provisions be declared surplus when PDA levels are greater than Cleveland’s current population again (Cleveland hosts approx 15,000 people currently)? The simple math would require existing provisions to be more than doubled, not reduced!

    Retail success is also undermined. The health of the Cleveland CBD is obviously challenged. Retail success and “good will” in resale evaluations depends in large part upon convenient parking, perceptions of safety and security and accessibility.

    If Cleveland’s retail is already challenged, how does reducing car parking and liquidating options for expansion help alleviate that situation?

    At a loss to understand why this council is increasing population densities in areas where there are no amenities, and failing to exhaust existing provisions in retail centres where greater population density is healthy and vital for retail health, & helps attract specialty shops that cement retail centre reputations and provide a healthy level of visitation and profitability.

    Makes no sense to me, at least, none that represents a public benefit.

  4. Well said….it seems that in Redland City we are living in the worst of times, the age of foolishness.

    The benefits of development keep getting explained and explained…but the community is not buying so we put more and more spin on the story. But mantra like “jobs, jobs, jobs”, “put Redlands on the map” and “open for business” are not a substitute for a properly consulted community vision …as done in the Redlands Community Plan.

    To the current regime the pesky Community Plan keeps showing them up! In this case well aided by Mr Whitelaw!

  5. Shame Shame Shame, flicking public land off to some questionable development company to hide any sales of land out of the knowledge of the community, what block will be next??????
    I thought Mayor Williams scrapped the bottom of the barrel with her actions over the past 4 years but things just go from bad to worse. To sell land to a real estate agent , what next wonder if the agent looked at some of the shops vacant in Cleveland first. I recall in 2012 Mayor Williams bagged the then Council about vacant shops and she promised to make Cleveland hum, well we are still waiting and more vacant shops. Why would Council not be open about selling Council land or do they have something to hide, read about the dodgy deals in Ipswich, is this where Williams gets her tips from? Today is a black day in Redlands, so many items on the Agenda that will, if approved have a serious impact on the community