The reality of “bloody and mindless” development at all costs is clear to the neighbours and users of the GJ Walter Park. Surveyors and more recently drilling rigs have intruded upon the usually placid foreshores near the Grandview hotel.
Is this the first of the sods to be turned… in the delivery of Minister Seeney’s Toondah edict.
Underpinned by a flawed and error ridden community consultation process and ‘lightweight” technical reports the Government and Council are pushing ahead with their goal. The residential and public amenity of a 400 berth marine, over 1,000 residential apartments layered in 10 storey towers all cramped into the precinct of a working harbour will be a marvel of design.
But what about the “enhanced environment and open space” outcomes?
As this reality hits, the ghost of Governor Gipps must be turning in his grave. The story goes that New South Wales Governor, Sir George Gipps, visited Cleveland in 1842 to establish the new colony of Queensland. It is reported that upon disembarking his boat just off what is now known as GJ Walter Park, he immediately sank into the mudflats up to his waist. He was so annoyed by this that he changed his mind about settling at Cleveland and went to Ipswich. The story and the landscape are intertwined and the tale will be diminished when its setting is destroyed.
Landscape Heritage to be lost
This historic and picturesque landscape has remained largely untouched since 1842. But “change is in the wind” and the Toondah PDA development will “wipe out” this historic landscape so intimate to the Gipp’s story and early colonial settlement.
So the actual mud flats are an important part of the story of the settlement of Queensland. It is unclear what the view of the Heritage Council might be, but the community should but hope someone in authority has made an enquiry. After all 170 years of history probably makes this site one of the most important cultural landscapes in the Redlands.
Guided by Minister Seeney and the Redland City Council this historic landscape will be replaced with a dredged basin and a flotilla of boats with clanging masts.
Future generations will likely wonder at the “crass” stewardship of this historic landscape. In other States, and most other countries, historic landing places like this would be prized and protected for future generations.
The loss of the landscape heritage values would be irreversible once the marina is excavated and “new ” land is created. But to date in its public consultation the Government has refused to even acknowledge this heritage landscape value even exists. And there seems little likelihood of proper cultural heritage assessment.
Could the current political leadership at least ensure the historical record of the site is properly documented? The site could be surveyed for archeological relics from the the landing – maybe Gipp’s boots got stuck in the mud?
At least he site should be filmed and a narrative made so there is some record on the public archive … so that future generations can appreciate what has been destroyed.
Shouldn’t compensation be paid for lost “Scenic Amenity”
What makes a view and how the community appreciates views was the subject of extensive investigations arising from the SEQ Regional Plan. What people like to see and what they can see combine to give a meaningful tool for landscape appreciation. Scenic amenity can be mapped and measured and the tools is documented in a regional guideline. Interestingly, this guideline is on the Minister’s own departmental website. Some suggest anyone wanting to follow up on the methodology should get in quick.
The SEQ Regional Scenic Amenity project involved State agencies and all Councils of the region. It was a model for inter-governmental cooperation or governments “working together”. The research showed where scenic amenity was high it was the most important landscape value to the community. It also showed that people of all walks of life know what they like in a view …open water rates very high but not marinas!
As a rule almost all forms of construction will depreciate the scenic amenity. Marinas are no exception. There are some people who might profess “love” a view of a marina as opposed to the open Bay but generally such people move into a precinct near an existing marina. They are not those who have a marina imposed.
As with the landscape heritage values, it seems the future will only see the more natural views from GJ Walter if the site is properly assessed and a film or video record created and archived.
The scenic amenity value of the waterway off GJ Walter Park is very high. The post development scenario could be ascertained but the answer is probably unpalatable to the decision makers and there is no record of the assessment being undertaken. It is likely that should the loss of scenic amenity be tested it will be between 1- 2 points on the 10 point scale.
More recently, further university research (Valuing scenic amenity using life satisfaction data) found scenic amenity has a monetary value, beyond the cliche of a “million dollar view”. This research found that the on the 10-point Scenic Amenity scale a one point increase in the scenic amenity is worth about $14,000 per year.
On this basis house owners in the vicinity of the Grandview Hotel “lose” benefits worth about $14,000 per year for every point that their scenic amenity is depreciated. This would equate to an economic loss of about $140,000 of the value of each house (based on a 10% discount rate). Given there are may be 40 houses impacted, the scenic amenity loss (or externality) of the Toondah Harbour PDA might be $ 5.6million.
There has been no talk of compensation, but perhaps the Government should examine the “common law” rights of those impacted. Clearly, the appropriation of scenic values will not be on “just terms”. The scenic amenity benefits are being appropriated from existing landowners (and the public) and “given” to a developer so that the Toondah Harbour residential towers can attract investors.
What can we learn from the lost landscape values at Toondah?
The views of the Bay will be “stripped” from existing residences and businesses. This loss of scenic amenity is measurable and compensation should be paid. Compulsory acquisition of property rights without due compensation is not acceptable. How does the Government and Council justify the appropriation of this property rights without compensation? This a question the affected landowners should put to their political local representatives?
Equally important is how the loss of public’s scenic amenity from the public land in the locality has also been appropriated, by Government for private benefits. Perhaps the Minister can explain how this action is in the “public interest”.
Given the course of the PDA to date, the community must insist on proper assessment and mapping of both landscape heritage and scenic amenity and the incorporation of these landscape values into the new planning scheme i.e. City Plan 2015. Given the trend in planning over the last few years these values are likely being either diminished or even dismissed. These values are requisites of value based planning. The recent loss of koala trees at Ormiston is an example of poor mapping, poor planning and poor policy. Importantly, the mistakes at Toondah and Ormiston must not be perpetuated.
Will the Government record the landscape values of Toondah so that future generations at least know what used to be and how this Government made the decision to wipe these values out?