The draft ‘Kurilpa Riverfront Renewal’ plan that aims to gentrify an industrial area of West End has been met with community outcry.
A 25-hectare area on the river’s southern bank stretching from the William Jolly Bridge to Hockings Street has been marked for redevelopment.
The area, dubbed Kurilpa, aims to incorporate retail, residential and recreational elements to expand upon Brisbane’s existing riverside culture and unify the inner-city cultural districts.
Lord Mayor Graham Quirk says the development will double public space including a new one-hectare riverfront park.
“Kurilpa is council’s next step in building a vibrant riverside culture in Brisbane and follows on from successful redevelopments of industrial waterfront land at Newstead and Teneriffe,” he says.
But Councillor for The Gabba Ward Helen Abrahams says the park is not enough green space for the area.
“According to Brisbane City Council’s own City Plan, for a population of 11,000 people this area should have 11 hectares of public parkland, but the plan only delivers one,” she says. “This is a once in a generation opportunity to deliver a significant community open space and Brisbane City Council must get the balance right.
“Experience shows that once a plan is announced it can be very hard to change.”
It’s this seemingly finished plan that has locals so concerned their voices won’t be heard, says Dr Erin Evans, president of the West End Community Association.
“They’ve spent a lot of money on producing the plan and the animations and those kind of materials,” she says. “This is an afterthought consultation that we’re being provided with.
“We should have been engaged when they were looking at the basics and the formation of the design. I don’t think there’s the same capacity to be able to bounce off ideas now.”
Lord Mayor Quirk contests that there will be plenty of opportunity for locals to have their say during the six-week community review period.
“The draft plan provides a basis for discussion,” he told 612 ABC radio. “It provides a set of parameters from which people can then put forward their ideas.
“We’ve set together some key themes and they’re the drivers from which a whole range of development discussions will now occur based around the draft.”
Dr Evans says the electronic-based consultation is more of an education process than a genuine forum for feedback.
“We’ve put in formal requests for the community to have the same level of information that the developers have had access to for the last ten months and we’ve heard nothing,” she says. “When you consider that council provided ten months to developers and six weeks to the community you can see it’s a very unequal balance of engagement.”
In particular, community concerns are for the lack of education and transport infrastructure as well as the height of buildings.
“As the area grows, residents will need parks, schools, community halls, children care centres, outdoor sports and clubhouses,” says Cr Abrahams.
Dr Evans adds that people are ‘dismayed and horrified’ at the density of proposed high-rise towers.
“We realise the need for development in our area and that it is inevitable,” she says. “West Enders aren’t backwards in coming forward, we really care about our community and we really care about where we live and this plan doesn’t reflect what the community has strongly said we want.
“One bus stop in the area and the potential for some extra CityCats and River Taxis for an extra 11,000 residents doesn’t make the grade. This is a plan to take us for 20 years – we need progressive 21st Century ideas.”
For more information on the plan or to have your say visit kurilparenewal.com.au/contact