The Draft City Plan 2015 produced by the Williams Council was a shocker. It was developed with early input from the residential building sector and biased to favor that sector against existing residents.
The community made a huge number of submissions about the draft plan, mainly objections calling for it to be withdrawn.
Population projections underpinning the plan have since been reduced significantly by the State government, lessening the need for more housing.
Although the plan includes significant changes which make it easier for property developers to squeeze in more and more housing, the Mayor and her “supportive” councillors have mislead the community by saying incorrectly that:
Council has made no significant changes to the existing scheme except for creating greater clarity and certainty…
What the community said
Redland City Council received 6,407 submissions about the Draft City Plan.
Most submissions objected to the Draft City Plan and demanded significant changes.
While the majority of submissions were pro forma, many included comments showing how people felt, such as:
- Please preserve the character of the Redlands as is – MR, Cleveland
- Traffic will be unbelievable – NT Thornlands
- Far too much development in the Redlands. We want to keep our green space – FD Victoria Point
When the Gold Coast City Council asked its community of about 500,000 for submissions on their draft planning scheme they got about 2,500 submissions. That is about 1 in 200 people on the Gold Coast making submissions while about 1 in 20 Redlanders responded to the Draft Redland City Plan. Perhaps Redlands’ draft plan was ten times worse than the Gold Coast one.
As a result of the community back-lash, Redland City Council has decided to withdraw its park rezoning (and sale) plans. A decision, reported as “Backflip saves City’s parks” was an admission that the Draft City Plan requires significant changes.
The State Government says we don’t need so much housing
The Draft City Plan 2015’s underpinning assumptions now appear to have collapsed. Revised population projections by the State Government have heavily pruned forecast population growth for Redland City over the next 25 years.
“Instead of providing for an extra 62,814 people by 2041, Council has been told to cater for an extra 44,393 people.” reports the Bulletin. That’s a reduction of 18,421 people to be housed.
The Draft City Plan says it doesn’t include Shoreline or State Government controlled areas at Weinbam Creek and Toondah Harbour. Yet for reasons never clearly explained to the Community, the Council decided to approve a new 10,000 person town at Shoreline, clearly out of sequence from the City’s future accommodation needs.
Should the town plan start again?
When the Redland City Bulletin asked candidates if the current town plan process should start again this idea was totally rejected by the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and City Planning and Assessments Portfolio Chair
Mayor Cr Karen Williams said: “No. ……. Council has made no significant changes to the existing scheme except for creating greater clarity and certainty, removing conflicts within the scheme and making it simpler for the community to understand…..”
Deputy Mayor Cr Alan Beard said: “No. It has been through an exhaustive community consultation. Planning officers and then council will consider submissions. The community will have had ample opportunity to provide input.”
City Planning & Assessment Portfolio Spokesperson Cr Talty said: “No, the process has not been completed, council has made no significant changes to the scheme”
But the Draft City Plan 2015 does contain significant changes to the current planning scheme.
Back to basics and easily understood planning?
In the fanfare surrounding the notification of the Draft Plan, Council issued “fact sheets” which focused on the proposed changes to existing property zonings. In the residential areas these changes were not wholesale, and all appear to be “up zonings” or forms of higher density development.
In contrast to the limited and relatively easily understood zoning maps in the Draft City Plan 2015, there are some radical changes to the proposed Development Codes. The codes control the land use and nature of the development which can occur within the zones. These changes are more difficult for community members to find and few were included in Council’s “Fact Sheets”.
Within the residentially orientated zones the effect of most of these changes is to permit significantly denser development within both existing residential precincts and greenfield sites than permitted under the current Redlands Planning scheme.
There are changes proposed in Draft City Plan 2015 to the current Development Codes which control land uses and development in the Conservation and Environmental Protection Zones.
Further, the criteria for determining the level of assessment will (at least in some instances) be relaxed so development proposals which are (now) Impact Assessable (subject to public notification and submissions) under the current scheme will become code assessable under the new City Plan 2015.
The devil is in the detail
In Draft City Plan 2015 the specified minimum lot sizes and frontages have been reduced, practically all references to maximum residential densities have been removed, dwelling site coverages increased and in some situations building boundary setbacks reduced. These changes are purely the initiative of Council; they are not directives of the State.
Also, Council seems to have ignored community concerns about the type of residential development being approved under the current planning scheme.
A first cut assessment of the metrics from the existing planning scheme and the draft City Plan 2015 shows the changes in the Draft City Plan that are “significant changes to the existing scheme”.
Perhaps a more serious concern is the cumulative impacts of various changes embedded in the Draft City Plan 2015, including increased density, reduced minimum lot sizes, reduce minimum lot frontages, increase site coverage. Further the administrative terms of “Site Density” and “Net Residential Density” have been deleted in the Draft City Plan.
The following is not a full analysis of the old and the draft scheme, but the sample surely demands more detailed responses than saying: “Council has made no significant changes to the existing scheme“.
Detached Housing on Separate Standard Lots
- Regular Lot minimum Size reduced from range of 450 – 700 sq m in the Redland Planning Scheme to a minimum of 400 sq m in the draft City Plan 2015.
- “Hatchet” Lot minimum size reduced from 800 sq m to 400 sq m.
- Lot minimum frontage reduced from 15 metres to 10 metres
- Density:- the current “average net residential density of 12-15 dwellings per ha” has been deleted – presumably “as many as will fit” is now proposed.
Detached Housing on Separate Small Lots
- Regular Lot minimum size reduced from 400-449 sq m to 250 sq m.
- Hatchet” Lot minimum size reduced from 800 sq m to 250 sq m.
- Lot minimum frontage reduced from 10 metres to 7.5 metres
- Density:- the current maximum of 1 dwelling unit per 400 sq m ha has been deleted – presumably “as many as will fit” is now proposed.
Low Rise (2 storey) Multiple Dwellings – Units, Town Houses on a single lot
- Density:- the current probable solution of a maximum of 1 dwelling unit per 400 sq m has been deleted – presumably “as many as will fit” is now proposed.
- Site Coverage:- the current maximum of 35% (single storey) or 30% (two storey) increased to 50%
Medium Density Residential – Mid Rise (3 storey) Multiple Dwellings to 6 Storey Apartment Blocks
- Density: the current probable solution of 1 dwelling unit per 200m2 of site area has been deleted – presumably “as many as will fit” is now proposed.
- Site Coverage:- maximum currently 50% (45% maximum for apartment buildings) increased to 75% for building heights up to 13m attached or terrace houses; otherwise 60%.
- Communal Open Space:- minimum currently 20 % of the site area at ground level reduced to a minimum of 15% of the site area which can be provided on rooftops, on podiums, or at ground level
What other Councils do
The approach adopted by Redland City contrasts markedly with Planning Schemes of other Councils in South East Queensland. Most other Councils have maintained and reinforced density criteria for development control. In most instances this is achieved by giving them extra weight by inclusion in the “Purpose” statement for each Zone and certainly in the specified “Performance Outcomes” required.
The decision to largely remove density controls was made by Redland City Council. There was no direction imposed by the State Government to do this.
Unfortunately, despite the assurances issued by those who should know better, Redland City Council’s Draft City Plan 2015 advances higher density. Even where Zones remain unchanged, proposed Code changes will permit and promote considerably denser development. This will benefit the residential development industry at the expense of the community who will suffer overcrowding and more traffic congestion.
We need a properly made town plan
Despite the assurances by crs Williams, Beard and Talty the current Council produced a Draft City Plan 2015 which favours the residential development industry at the expense of the existing Community.
If City Plan 2015 were implemented in its current form, people would suffer from its negative impacts for decades through overcrowding, traffic congestion and inadequate infrastructure.
The State Statutory Guidelines dictates that Council must repeat the public consultation process in the event that the draft planning scheme is significantly changed as a result of the initial submission process or other reasons.
If the Council responds appropriately to the community’s concerns evidenced by 6,407 submissions, it will have to make “significant changes” thereby triggering a a new round of public consultation.
Instead of patching up a poorly drafted town plan that was written to favour the residential development sector, the new Council elected on 19 March should develop a properly drafted planning scheme based on sound assumptions about forecast population growth. And this time, when drafting the plan, the Council should engage with the whole community – not just well connected property developers and builders.
Redlands2030 – 6 March 2016