Open for business or just more development?

Coming home to roost

In Redlands, decisions from a 2013 Open for Business manifesto are Coming Home to Roost

All too often,  proposed new residential developments in Redlands are upsetting local communities when project plans go well beyond the expectations or experience of existing residents.
Open for Business (Full doc)
Development outcomes are being promoted which are beyond the layman’s interpretation of the planning scheme and people feel that higher density developments threaten their quality of life and our natural environment.

In early 2013, Redland City Council released its “Redlands – Open for Business and Investment” manifesto. It opens the Redlands to higher density residential development. Has the open for business directive gone too far?

A crisis of trust

One measure of local community angst is number of groups feeling let down (by the Council).  Some respond by engaging their own planning advice. In effect the community is employing consultant planners, to defend what they see as the public interest. People expect the community interest should be the core business of the local Council, especially their elected councillors.

A recent Redlands2030 article “Cleveland…its now builders paradise” seemed to capture this community sentiment.

Defending unpopular development decisions

In response to community angst about some development approvals, some Councillors have tried to defend their decisions. They engaged with rhetoric like ”our hands are tied” or it’s the fault of the “performance based planning system” or even “its the fault of the State” (meaning government legislation and policy).

Some councillors say that the community just doesn’t understand the planning system. Blaming the community is almost blaming the victim and overlooks the idiom that it is not what is said that matters….it is what is heard.

Another excuse heard in Council meetings is to blame-shift to previous Councils. So the community is told the fault lies with the old planning scheme, adopted back in 2006.

And then there are Councillors who defend unpopular approvals by saying they will avoid the legal costs of an appeal – so they buckle to poor outcomes supposedly to save ratepayers money.  It is one thing to think this but to tout this rhetoric in Council meetings delivers clear messages to the residential development industry.  The message from these Councillors is “Council will not stand in the way of expanding the development envelope or increasing site densities”.

What is overlooked is that the cost of an appeal is not a planning consideration. It is irrelevant in a debate on planning merit. Observers might conclude that councillors using this ploy have nothing useful to contribute!  Councillors should make their decision on merit and the public interest.

Open for Business is about increased developer yields

Open for business 2016In early 2013 Redland City Council adopted its “Redlands: Open for Business and Investment” manifesto.

This was to give  generous concessions…aimed squarely at improving developer yields and making Redlands …”an even more attractive place to invest”.  

The manifesto was discussed with the Development Industry Reference Group (DIRG) and seems clearly aimed at increasing residential density and expansion of the city’s urban footprint while disregarding matters like character, heritage and architectural merit.

Why wouldn’t the residential development industry be happy to accept this policy direction?

The manifesto was a surely adopted to change to the philosophical groundings of planning and development.  If it didn’t change the Council’s development culture why bother issuing the manifesto?

The existing (2006) planning scheme sets out probable solutions to guide applicants. It seems certain that after “Open for Business” was released (2013) the probable solution “guides” were largely ignored.

“Open for Business”, not unexpectedly, has influenced the decisions and thinking of officers and Council. And the mantra surely infected the draft City Plan 2015. While ever this document exists it continues to influence outcomes! Otherwise why have it?

The conflict between the directions arising from the open for business mantra has contributed to crisis of trust.   It is time to re-think the open for business rhetoric. The power of three word slogans peaked 3-4 years ago! It’s time to move beyond slogans.

“Open for business” should be reviewed and modified before the draft City Plan is reviewed.

Council should review the Open for Business agenda in line with community values

The Council’s pro-development “Open for Business” policies didn’t sit well with communities throughout the Redlands. The previous council’s pro-developer Draft City Plan received more than 6,000 submissions.

Outcomes at the last election shifted the balance of power in the elected Councillors.  The Councillors espousing a greater concern for community values (and the Community Plan) gained a majority. The Williams team no longer has the numbers.

The 6,400 submissions new City Plan are now being ‘workshopped’ by Council staff and councillors. The line-by-line examination will keep everyone busy and probably exhaust all involved. However, while ever the Open for Business manifesto is driving Council’s decision making it’s hard to see how the new planning scheme will serve the community.

The current “open for business” especially if it’s residential development philosophy is out of touch with community values and the Community Plan.

It’s time for a real pro-business policy package which seeks to enhance long term employment in the Redlands.

The current Council should carefully review the Open for Business and Investment document and modify it so that it reflects the community’s wishes as set out in the long term 2030 Community Plan.


Redlands2030 – 7 October 2016

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7 thoughts on “Open for business or just more development?

  1. Has there been any move by any Councillor to overturn the previous mobs open for business mantra. It seems while ever it dictates the administrations thinking it will poison the outcome.

    Surely a majority six can be mustered. Those who recognise that open for business mantra does no accord with community expectations or in Cr Hughes’ term “community values” especially in terms of higher yield etc. The mantra document should be killed off. We need a meaningful and contemporary approach to business ….not more of the same. Certainly we don’t need more housing….not higher yields for developers.

  2. “Open For Business” is just a parroted phrase, Tony Abbott used it, Campbell Newman used it, and what great successes THEY were. Seems to be a meme for failed right wingers who claim to be representatives of the business community but instead give them the rough end of the pineapple.

    Open for business? What absolute tosh.

    Some months ago, I published photos on the Redlands Future site of “For Lease” and “For Sale” signs in plague proportions within a ten minute walk of Redland City Council offices.
    The pro developer bloc in Council has presided over the most destructive business decline in Cleveland’s history. It’s a virtual ghost town. Toondah Harbour is no longer a revamp of the existing ferry terminal. That ferry terminal project, originally much more modest, has been hijacked and used as a Machiavellian ploy to create a supercharged NEW township on Moreton Bay.
    Something stinks. Should the business geniuses who couldn’t make a go of an existing town centre be allowed to create a new town from scratch, destroying vast areas of protected and internationally recognised wetlands to do so?

  3. Toondah harbour means 6000 more people in Cleveland, weinum creek project means another 2000 people and shoreline means 10000 more. No too mention multiple pocket developments which means 1000s more on top of that….does the government plan to make a train line out to redland bay?

  4. Lets hope we have seen the end of simplistic three word slogans.

    The current Council was elected on a different set of values. If they have any resolve…they should revoke the previous policy, and adopt the community values ….as espoused in the Community Plan.

  5. Does “open for business” mean “turning a blind eye?”
    The chicken poo incinerator trying again for an extension is making wonderful claims. Sounds good business. Wouldn’t want councillors or officers to be making decisions without sufficient information on an old (2004) project that will affect Mt Cotton residents and even the kids at their local school.
    Incineration of chicken poo? What is produced?

  6. How would council adopt a legally binding policy outside of existing legislation?

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