Who will benefit (cui bono) from Walker Group’s proposed Toondah Harbour development plans and in particular from any investment provided for in the project Infrastructure Agreement?
Redland City Council claims that Walker Group’s proposed Toondah project will deliver “nearly $116 million worth of community improvements”.
Based on information that’s publicly available it appears that much of this investment won’t benefit existing residents or people using the Straddie ferries.
The ferry terminal will be moved and car parking reconfigured. But very little money has been allocated to actually improving and expanding the ferry terminal and car parking facilities.
Most residents assumed this was the point of the project, the pay off for letting a developer have access to a large coastal real estate opportunity.
Redland City Council’s propaganda has made much use of artists impressions indicating areas of attractive new foreshore parkland. But the project master plan has had to be substantially revised since the Infrastructure Agreement was signed and much of the publicly accessible foreshore parkland will be deleted to avoid impacting migratory shorebird habitat.
As the project details become more widely understood, the community is realising that they won’t benefit from the Walker Group’s proposed project.
An on-line poll in the Redland City Bulletin shows that 85% of respondents think that the Toondah Harbour PDA should be abandoned.
Delving into the details of the Toondah Harbour Infrastructure Agreement, it becomes clear that the project’s benefits to the community have been vastly overstated by the Council.
Infrastructure Agreement details
The Infrastructure agreement supposedly delivers $56 million of community infrastructure.
But nearly $21 million of the $56 million in the infrastructure agreement is for roadworks, water and sewerage to service Walker Group’s 3,600 new apartments.
Water and sewerage services are costed at $13,188,200 and roadworks are costed at $7,633,686.
None of this investment in roads water services and sewerage will benefit existing Cleveland residents or people using the Straddie ferries.
Relocation of ferry terminal and car parking
Walker Group is to spend $10.5 million on the new ferry terminal but most of these dollars are for work to relocate the current facilities further south, for the convenience of Walker Group’s real estate development.
Less than $3 million is to be spent on facilities which offer a noticable benefit to people using water taxis and barges, as shown in the table.
Work elements detailed in the Infrastructure Agreement have been categorised by Redlands2030 into those which are essentially dealing with relocation of the terminal and those which appear to offer a new benefit to the community.
|New Ferry Terminal||Relocation||Upgrade|
|Demolition & Site Preparation||$963,600|
|New Inner leads re-alignment to Fison Channel||$125,925|
|New Port/Starboard Channel beacons||$207,776|
|Floating Pontoons incl piling and lighting||$944,438|
|RoRo Berthing dolphin piles||$611,996|
|Barge Dock Sheet Piling & Concrete||$2,336,730|
|Bulk Fuel Storage Tanks||$2,409,000|
|Premium Bus Interchange||$903,375|
|Ticketing and Information centre||$1,752,548|
|Ferry terminal works overall total||$10,527,386|
|Total as a percentage||72.2%||27.8%|
Walker Group’s proposed relocation of the ferry terminals would involve a reconfiguration of car parking.
Analysis of the very sketchy information included in the Infrastructure Agreement suggests there may be a modest increase in the overall number of car parks but:
- The average distance from the ferry terminals could be greater.
- There will be more competition for available spaces from the new Toondah residents and their visitors.
At present most car parks available for ferry terminal users are within 200 metres of a ferry embarkation point but plans in the Infrastructure Agreement indicate a reduction in the number of car parks close to the ferries.
Based on information provided in the Infrastructure agreement, Redlands2030 has estimated the number of car parks within 200 metres of the ferry terminal and those which are further away.
|Less than 200 metres from embarkation|
|Off street car parks||621||504|
|More than 200 metres from embarkation|
|Off street car parks||104||135|
|Total car parks
At present during peak periods people park free of charge in side streets around Toondah Harbour, mainly in Wharf Street and Shore Street East. Sometimes, the Council also allows parking in the old CSIRO Building grounds. This overflow parking may be less available if the Toondah residential development were to go ahead due to increased traffic and car parking when 3,600 apartments have been built.
The Infrastructure Agreement mentions the possibility that a multi-storey car park could be constructed above the proposed main ferry terminal car park, with two extra levels each providing 250 spaces. This is not part of the Walker Group’s proposal.
It would have to be funded and developed by the Council with the likely result that people will have to pay commercial rates for car parking anywhere close to the ferry terminal.
Parks and open space
The infrastructure Agreement provides for development of parks and open spaces.
The Boardwalk and district parks are supposed to be provided in stages, as residential development progresses. This could be over a period lasting more than 20 years.
Walker Group’s original master plan featured extensive parks and recreation facilities on the eastern side of the proposed development area.
In May 2017 Walker Group revised its development plans by redesignating open spaces on the eastern side of the development area as migratory bird habitat, in an attempt to reduce the project’s negative environmental impact on protected migratory shorebirds.
Much of the parkland originally proposed, and factored into the Infrastructure agreement, can no longer happen. This means the community would get significantly reduced benefit from the proposed development.
With 3,600 dwellings the likely population of the proposed Toondah Development could range from 7,000 to 10,000 which will add significantly to current demand for parks and open space in the Cleveland area such as G.J. Walter Park.
The Infrastructure Agreement includes the following provisions for parks and open space, many of which seem unlikely to ever be delivered:
|Parks and open space||Cost|
|Contiguous Boardwalk along the waterfront||$9,523,725|
|Improvements and extensions to G.J. Walter Park||$621,000|
|Foreshore district parks A, B, D||$7,435,038|
|Beach Park C||$4,173,925|
|Foreshore areas revegetation||$2,833,025|
If you want to review the Infrastructure Agreement, you can download a copy from the Council’s website.
What are the Council’s obligations to provide infrastructure?
Infrastructure charges are capped in Queensland. Usually, the city’s ratepayers have to pay for whatever is not funded by a developer’s capped infrastructure charges.
Redland City Council has not disclosed its obligations to Walker Group and the likely financial impost on Redland City ratepayers.
What about the Development Agreement?
The Council claims that community infrastructure will also be delivered through a second agreement, the Development Agreement.
But the Council has refused to make the Development Agreement publicly available saying that the information in this agreement needs to be kept secret because it is is subject to a confidentiality clause requiring it to be kept confidential.
Why are the Government, Redland City Council and Walker Group keeping their plans secret from the community?
It’s unlikely to be for the public good.
This project should be subject to detailed cost benefit analysis, done transparently, to answer the very simple question which has been used to investigate wrongdoing for thousands of years:
Cui bono, or who benefits?