The importance of trees in the Redlands
According to our mayor, when she opened a recent workshop on Aboriginal Scar Trees: “Trees tell stories”.
According to the draft city plan very few trees in Cleveland will be telling tales in the future – they will simply have their tongues cut out like the one pictured to be replaced with more and taller blocks of units.
The Poinciana tops the crest of Redland City Council. Now they are just being topped. The Latin inscription at the foot of the Council crest is: “Crescat” May it Grow – “Floreat” May it Flourish.
The only things likely to grow and flourish now are developers. Public or private land; down the trees come.
But we have an opportunity – with the new plan up for comment. Let’s all promote a green city rather than a concrete one.
Draft City plan is bad…really bad
The Redlands Draft City Plan 2015 is so bad that it is hard to respond to.
Fundamentally the State framework is wrong. The Performance Based planning model is a failure because it presumes a development outcome that the developer wants.
The community expects that when a zoning states 3-storeys that is the end of it but the planning model allows more by tweaking ‘outcomes’. The 16 unit development proposed for St Rita’s was considered allowable by the developer because the individual buildings were of similar form to nearby 2-storey houses. Ignored density, traffic etc.
The elephant in the room is the ‘injurious affection’ law that prevents councils from rectifying major errors in Plans for fear of compensation claims. Queensland is the only State where this is in play.
Only donkeys could vote to develop Toondah
In Redlands, our leaders are donkeys.
These donkeys have set the city on course for failure – big time – at Toondah Harbour. They bray about illusory benefits of a brazen overdevelopment for this environmentally-challenging, clogged bottleneck site. Just like cussed donkeys that won’t budge, they ostentatiously ignore even basic tenets of urban planning and simply refuse to recognise the eminently suitable location for a prime development attraction in Cleveland: Raby Bay.
Two development options:
- a cramped waterfront scythed by stiff south-easterlies 300 days a year, protected Ramsar marine environment, waterlogged and prone to storm surge flooding, heavily polluted, muddy at low tide (remember the hapless Governor Sir George Gipps in 1842), already problematic barge and water-taxi parking and traffic; or
- a benign north-facing orientation sheltered from prevailing winds, expansive kilometre stretch of underused waterfront parkland, no mangroves, sandy beachlets rather than mudflats, pleasant walking distance from both the railway station and CBD, no traffic bottleneck …
Which option would a shrewd local government plump for? Why are the obdurate donkeys plumping instead to turn Toondah Harbour into a choked mini-me Gold Coast? It’s not as if they possess any special planning insight or sensitivity that could justify choosing Toondah over Raby Bay. No, this is dumb-ass politics.
The map of Cleveland tells you everything. The eastern flank facing across Moreton Bay to the islands is historic and ’natural’ in character: green. In contrast, the north-facing water frontage of canal estates is man-made, ‘artificial’: blue.
The competent planner knows how to approach Cleveland’s binary natural/artificial urban condition (and to emphasise this authentic attribute of the city’s identity): exploit it. Reinforce and protect the historic/natural green identity of the east peninsula, and enhance and consolidate the contrasting ‘artificial’, north-facing blue water front.
This is Planning 101: analyse the entire urban context, not just a single site in isolation.
At Toondah Harbour, the barge and water taxi facilities are dreadful. Parking has grown like Topsy. Swathes of sun-scorched bitumen disfigure the waterfront. It’s a confused, tatty, dismal entry to Minjerribah/North Stradbroke Island. Third world, as someone accurately noted.
Fix the port. Throw in a cafe and restaurant for good measure. Above all, reinforce the natural character, a fitting prelude to Minjerribah.
Pay for fixing the port not out of public funds but by allocating development rights at Raby Bay – including the right to build on portions of public land if necessary, and to construct wide ‘finger wharves’ out over the water, like Sydney’s Walsh Bay where the likes of Russell Crowe enjoy apartment living: create new ‘land’! Realise Raby Bay’s natural potential as Cleveland’s focal leisure destination.
Both developments can be undertaken rationally, successfully.
Why has Lang Walker not twigged to this potential double bite of the Cleveland cherry?
As things stand, Redlands ratepayers will be exposed to exorbitant and ongoing infrastructure and maintenance costs if the unsuitable Toondah Harbour development goes ahead. Ask the team of leading urban design professionals who held a design workshop in 2014 to assess the question of where best to develop in Cleveland. Their unanimous answer? Raby Bay.
Seize the vision for Cleveland from the donkeys. Banish them out to pasture. It’s our city’s future and our money they are messing with.
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