Why exactly did Council and the State Government ignore the professional advice of 24 experts and community members who created different vision options for the upgraded transport terminal?
An eminent architect says this mega project makes Queensland and Australia an international laughing stock, is a severe embarrassment to all levels of government and must be halted now.
Council ignored alternative Toondah plans
Did you know we have brilliant people in the Redlands? In fact, in March, 2014 twenty-four eminent architects, environmental urban planners, engineers, academics, tourism operators, marine biologists and scientists gave two days of their time FREE to look at how to redevelop Toondah Harbour.
At this two-day workshop they developed three alternative plans, based on the ‘Redlands 2030 Community Plan’ to upgrade Toondah Harbour Ferry Terminal and facilities and revitalise Cleveland. These plans were presented to the Redland City Council – but were ignored.
Now, we have the “Walker Toondah Towers” proposal, not based on genuine community consultation, on reclaimed land IN Moreton Bay!
Toondah plan makes us international laughing stock
I am an architect and urban designer who took part in a workshop at Cleveland in early 2014 during the calling of expression of interests for the Toondah Harbour Priority Development Area (PDA). The purpose of the workshop was to examine the merits or otherwise of the Newman Government’s briefing document. The group found:
- There was a more suitable site for a marina village on the northern bay edge of the township of Cleveland where there has already been a ‘man made’ incursion known as the canal estate of Raby Bay, and the surrounds immediately west of the Cleveland Point peninsula where there is existing boating facilities. However, there was an acceptance of the fact that the Toondah ferry terminal needed to be upgraded and / or relocated.
- The benefits of the north-bay edge include a northerly outlook and aspect with unfettered vistas across the northern ‘fetch’ of Moreton Bay. This location would be protected from southerly weather exposure. The location is close enough to the Cleveland town centre and residential to have synergetic effect on the commercial and village atmosphere, thereby reinforcing businesses that are becoming unviable within the Cleveland township. It appears an options analysis was not carried out, in particular, in relation to the urban consolidation of the Cleveland town core.
- The proposed PDA site with commercial / retail is too far from the Cleveland town centre and will further exacerbate the continuing failure of the existing Cleveland commercial hub.
- The PDA site is adjacent to world-listed wetlands (RAMSAR). Moreton Bay is an extremely sensitive and complex ecosystem – in particular, bird and fish habitat, seagrass and mangrove stands.
Subsequently, the PDA was approved by the Newman Government and the tender was won by the Walker Group.
- As a marina consultant, I advised the working group that the cost of operational works (including dredging), infrastructure, and upgrading of the ferry facilities in the original briefing document did not stack up from a feasibility point of view. To become economically viable the proposed scheme now has now increased significantly in size without any Environmental Impact Study.
- To further make the project viable, public assets have simply been handed over without cost to the preferred developer as well as loss of public amenity.
- There has been no transparency and no public consultation, reminiscent of ‘The don’t you worry about that’ days of the Petersen / Hinze era.
- The proposed marina, ferry terminal and general mixed-use facilities are amateurish.
- By inserting a high-density accommodation program, in the bay, beyond the shoreline, including high-rise buildings in ‘the mud’, to avoid costly hydraulics problems, there will need to be at grade podium car-parking with resultant bleak in-active streets.
- The site is exposed to unfavourable SE aspect and southerly winds. The buildings and spaces will be exposed to the corrosive nature of the location and blustering southerly weather.
- The scheme shows large revetment walls adjoining the bay with imported white sand infill and ‘large out of scale’ steps to an unshaded promenade. This is a scenario that is common to resort and water edge reclamation in third world countries and has no relationship to the intrinsic character, topography, history and ecology of Moreton Bay.
- From a cultural point of view the vistas to and from the bay foreshore will be obliterated with very ordinary high-rise development.
This PDA proposal makes Queensland and Australia a laughing stock internationally and nationally. I know of no other situation in Australia where such a large development has taken place within such a large natural water body as Moreton Bay. The only other on this side of the world would be Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour which, unfortunately, is rapidly vanishing before the world’s eyes.
At the time, the Labor Party opposed the Newman Government PDA legislation because it made it very difficult for opponents of the scheme to appeal.
The Toondah Harbour proposal should be halted in its tracks and is a severe embarrassment to both the Queensland Labor Government and the Australian Federal Coalition. It is a short-term fix for Queensland’s fiscal problems imposed by political growth economics. It is an extremely negative legacy for future generations.
John Mainwaring LFAIA, B arch Qld Uni, hon Phd USC
A cry from the heart
This letter is a cry of the heart for the future of Redlands and so many more coastal Australian areas needing protecting.
What kind of people wish to destroy RAMSAR wetlands where thousands of birds from way up north of the planet migrate each spring and summer and need to refuel for their incredible return north each March?
What kind of people willingly allow massive building projects over marine sanctuary waters near where many city folks head to relax on the Bay Islands and replenish their batteries for the working world?
What kind of people wish to dredge waters where dugongs and turtles feed on seagrass and should feel safe?
What kind of people envision massive building developments south of Redland Bay where acreage still supports wildlife including fast vanishing koalas?
What kind of people are so blind to the beauties of Redland City’s wild places that they only see dollar signs that lead to destruction of this special coastal area?
Are they similar to the destructiveness of ISIL in the Middle East, destroying ancient monuments, killing wantonly, lacking any vision of what life on this planet is all about?
Carnage of wild places purely for profit is immoral.
Surely our society can devise future job opportunities that are creative and satisfying leading to improvements, not just bulldozing and dredging irreplaceable habitats.
Prioritise the transport hub
Widespread TV coverage of Redland residents protesting outside Council Chambers, recently focused attention on what’s going on at Toondah Harbour. Protesters were angry about the premature and irresponsible commitment to a secret infrastructure agreement for the mega Harbour redevelopment – in the final days of its administration. I share their concerns wholeheartedly.
I have a very keen interest and knowledge of this project, because as a Council General Manager, I was responsible for developing a plan to upgrade the area. The transport hub was always the priority.
We created a design of a suitable scale to enhance our bayside environment and provide the facilities needed. Benefit to the community was the first principle, although we recognised that there must also be commercial benefits for the private developer.
Our plan also included a marina and parking areas on a smaller amount of reclaimed land. Residential development also had its place – but not on reclaimed land, and set back from the bay to protect the foreshore views for residents and visitors.
I don’t support the proposed Toondah Harbour development in its current form. It has ballooned into a project costing $1.4 billion – four times the original estimate. Suddenly it’s more about the apartments, than the transport hub. We discover that as many as 9,000 residents will be crammed into the multiple high rise towers to be built on large stretches of reclaimed land in sensitive Moreton Bay.
So much waterside residential development is obviously a very good commercial opportunity – but is it a good one for Redland residents in the long run? Take the tendering process by the Council and the State Government for this mega project, for example. The idea that one (1) expression of interest submission by the Walker Group entitles them to dictate over $1 billion of development is biased towards one particular developer, when likely there would be many commercial developers interested in tendering for this project.
This project has been veiled in secrecy both inside and outside Council. The current Council administration handed it over to the Newman State government to negotiate the contract with the developer as a Priority Development Area. It is hoped that the current State Government will consider changing its approach considering the many concerns the community continues to raise about the development.
If you ask residents, as I have, what they think is going on at the Harbour, they simply don’t know or have only seen some misleading advertorial pictures from the newspaper. They have no idea of its magnitude and its real impact – nor of other options that could have been developed. They are surprised when they find out.
There is a better way for the Redlands. If I am elected Mayor in March, I will do my best to bring some balance back to this project to ensure that community interests are put first.
Candidate for Mayor