Smart growth: An Enterprise Area?

The smart growth quest for Redlands needs to re-ignite the discussion about the Redlands Enterprise area.  Previous city planning identified an area that adjoins Boundary Rd, it was to sit between Woodlands Drive and Taylor Rd. The area was to be located on the southern side of the Boundary Rd arterial main road and the residential development presently occurring on Kinross Rd.

The Enterprise Area got a tick from Seccombe & Hobson!

Kuber: the Hindu God of Wealth and “smart growth?”

The development of the Enterprise area was supported by both previous Councils (i.e. when Cr Hobson as Mayor and, prior to this, the Council with Cr Seccombe as Mayor). Both of these Councils resolved that the predominant development in the area should be for employment generation with an emphasis on technology and education: a local “silicon valley”.  All to be developed using best practice, based on similar “sustainable” enterprise parks in other parts of Australia and other countries. It was to be a test tube for smart growth.

If this area was left to the market it would likely fall to residential  supply and demand.  This and any other area adjoining existing residential areas will simply be taken up by residential development as part of the urban sprawl of Brisbane and South East Queensland. Naturally there are proponents insisting on further residential expansion for this area.  However residential development does little if anything for the wealth or well being of a well established and serviced area like Redlands.

Further residential development will only add to Redland City’s status as a dormitory (sleeping) suburb.  This means that the main employment potential coming out of the new residential areas will be for employment in trades & services jobs. Everyone else requiring employment will have to leave the Redlands. That means, effectively, that the City continues accommodating more people which adds to the need for major infrastructure.

Residential development cost Council big $

Because much of the cost of trunk infrastructure is at Councils cost, simply adding more ratepayers to an established area is unlikely to reduce the rate burden on existing ratepayers. In fact there is little or no evidence or experience that more residential development will reduce the rates payable by existing residents.  In similar scenarios anywhere in Queensland it just hasn’t happened . The financial burden on existing ratepayers will stay the same at least (or probably increase to service the debt used to develop infrastructure). However the congestion, safety, liveability & amenity of the local area will all suffer adversely.

An enterprise area, promoting smart growth, has the potential to add wealth to the Redlands, increase local employment of new and existing residents and attract wealth creation and high income opportunities.

Despite the rhetoric from some sectors and seemingly the draft Economic Development Strategy,  new residential development has little “value add” and merely satisfies a demand that is easy for developers to satisfy. It is a short term benefit. Once the development is done the employment disappears.  Commercial/industrial development lags behind residential development and in the Redlands case it is for the most part trades and services for the local population.

Smart growth: an economic opportunity

Smart growth will be a bigger pie with more filling.

An Enterprise Park in the Redlands needs to be developed and marketed to a much broader group of industries. This type of development will not happen overnight and will need a strong commitment from Council, the Chamber of Commerce and the broader community.  It needs smart planning not a regression to past practices and effectively more urban sprawl.

Redlands2030, has received an number of suggestions about how the Economic Development Strategy should be inclusive of smart solutions.  It should focus on measures that will deliver genuine progress and an increase in per capita gross regional product.

Simplistically, the authors of the draft Economic Development Strategy need to assure the community that the outcome is smart growth. We want to make the pie bigger but we also want to make it better by ensuring that it is well filled.