A koala habitat in northwest Brisbane could be replaced with 1350 housing lots.

A Brisbane koala population is at the centre of a contentious development application.

Less than five years ago, Brisbane City Council wanted to buy privately-owned bushland at Upper Kedron, in the city’s northwest to create an environmental reserve.

But the Liberal National Party-controlled council is now considering a plan to develop housing lots on that land, presently zoned as environment protection.

Koalas are also known to live in that bushland, near D’Aguilar National Park.

A spokesman for Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said the council’s original plan to buy 50 hectares for environmental purposes would not have benefited ratepayers.

“Council did not proceed with its plans. However, if it had done so it would have been at a significant cost,” he said in a statement.

West Australian developer Cedar Woods is asking council for permission to create a $900 million master-planned community with 1350 housing lots over a decade, on environmental and rural zoned land.

This includes the 50 hectares initially earmarked as an environmental reserve, as it also spends $68 million over four years buying 227 hectares of land from private owners.

The developer is proposing to set aside 90 hectares of bushland as an ecological corridor, as part of council’s brief to ensure local koala populations are “not detrimentally impacted by the proposed development”.

But the Australian Koala Foundation’s chief ecologist Douglas Kerlin said the plan to set aside only 90 hectares of “tiny, tree-lined corridors” would fail to save koalas from dog attacks and cars.

“Southeast Queensland was certainly one of the big hotspots for koalas in Australia and the numbers are declining significantly,” he said.

Locals opposed to the development application have set up a Save The Gap campaign.

The group’s spokesman Shane Bevis said the area’s one major access road would be unable to handle extra cars and buses.