Will the recently published Queensland Plan be a one Government wonder or a genuine legacy of Premier Newman? The new Plan is intended to guide this state for the next 30 years. This will require bipartisan support at both State and local levels of government.
Queensland Plan: a 30 year vision
When releasing The Queensland Plan, the Premier called it a first for Queensland or any other State. Many commentators are pleasantly surprised by the Plan’s balanced scope and content. Its value will depend on how effectively it is implemented. Plans for legislation and an implementation committee are encouraging first steps.
If implemented properly, the Queensland Plan should guide local government land use planning. The Redland City planning scheme (and the new version called City Plan 2015) already has to comply with the State Planning Policy and the South East Queensland Regional Plan. We hope the enlightened aspects of the Queensland Plan make an impact on how development is planned and controlled at the local government level. Otherwise the new Plan will be little more than “huff and puff”.
Similarity to the Redlands 2030 Community Plan
Many aspects of the Queensland Plan are similar to and align with the Redlands 2030 Community Plan adopted in 2010 when Melva Hobson was the Redland City Mayor. Perhaps the three LNP members from the Redlands should have a closer look at the Redlands Community Plan and note how it expresses similar community values to those set out in the Queensland Plan.
It is not surprising that the two plans are similar since each of them was developed with the benefit of substantial community engagement. It was reported that 80,000 people (about 1.7% of Queenslanders) contributed to The Queensland Plan while 3,000 people (about 2.1% of Redlanders) contributed to the Redlands 2030 Community Plan.
If the community is given a genuine opportunity to consider the content and implications of complex issues such as land use planning, then good and sensible outcomes will happen. If a rushed process is adopted, with little time for people to find out what is being proposed, then a poor outcome is likely. We have recently seen an example of this in the Redlands with “priority development” at Toondah Harbour and Weinam Creek being the subject of sham consultation processes. The Redland City Council and the LNP Government have failed to get a social licence for these developments after deceiving the community by hiding detailed technical reports until after the “consultation” process ended.
Implications for planning in Redland City
The Queensland Plan includes a number of goals that should guide future planning and development in Redland City. Examples include a preference for urban sprawl to be better managed with Queensland’s cities to “go up not out”. The plan also includes this description of success:
“Local communities help develop long-term and area-specific plans for their city. Our plans encourage community togetherness. They ensure that each community has accessible dedicated green spaces. They limit the need for long distance commutes.”
The Queensland Plan states that we need to protect and maintain our natural environment. The economic value of our natural environment is to be recognized and business practices must be sustainable. Decisions are to be based on scientific evidence.
Such goals do not sit easily with the poorly planned schemes for over-development around Toondah Harbour and Weinam Creek. If the leopards are going to change their spots and make more enlightened planning decisions then the priority development areas should be unwound with a speedy reversion to normal community based planning.
The Redland City Council should also be reconsidering its decision to minimize community involvement in the development of City Plan 2015. The draft plan is being developed by Council with a tiny amount of token consultation. Six workshops attended by a maximum of 20 persons each and a few superficial displays at libraries and shopping centres is inadequate community engagement. When the draft plan is finalised early next year, the Council may only have public consultation for the minimum period required by law. More enlightened councils, like Logan, intend to have longer consultation periods.
Redland City would benefit if the Mayor and Councillors each spent an hour studying the new Queensland Plan (and comparing it with the Redlands Community Plan). Then perhaps at the next Council Meeting they could discuss how to ensure that our City’s planning and development aligns with the Queensland Plan’s 30 year vision.