The community around Kooya Rd in Mitchelton have done their level best to be heard by Lord Mayor Schrinner’s Council about the future of the former farm, participating in good faith in the feedback process.
The latest response from the developer to the Council Assessor’s request for information indicates the developer – The Uniting Church – is deaf to the community’s concerns. Despite the many submissions highlighting in detail how the developers plans will create unsustainable lots, diminish the natural character of the site, and put strain on local infrastructure, the developer has pressed ahead with the request to subdivide the land into 90+ plots for detached houses, destroying mature trees, removing public green space and placing more demand on already congested roads.
Residents who’ve been following the issue may recall that, while this development application has been under consideration, Brisbane City Council has circulated a new draft of the Local Government Infrastructure Plan for the area – one that reduces the requirement for a park for the area from 4.5 hectares to just 0.8 hectares. The latest submission from the developers expands the park in the application to exactly 0.8 hectares. Coincidence?
Developers or community first?
Members of the community affected by this decision are under the impression that Brisbane City Council is attempting to modify the planning instruments to suit the ambitions of the developer, rather than serving the needs of the community.
When the farmer who owned the site died, his will specified he wanted it to be bought by the council. After a 5-year period in which Council failed to buy the land, the bequest lapsed and the current developers bought it. The public perception of the LNP Council failing, over 5 years, to come to an agreement to buy the site under the terms of Greg Hungerford’s will, then enabling the successful buyer to to circumvent around Council’s own existing planning scheme, is less than favourable.
Tell Schrinner: Assess under the law
In response to complaints by residents of Brisbane who stand to be affected by this development, the Lord Mayor has referred to the draft changes to the Local Government Infrastructure Plan. If the draft LGIP were law, it would be appropriate to assess the development on those terms. However, the current LGIP calls for a 4.5 hectare park – and the State Government would have to approve the new LGIP: Council doesn’t have the authority to change those plans at will. Council’s own timeline shows they won’t even be sending the draft to the Minister until mid-2024.
Objecting to development applications is already hard enough for members of the community. The whole process is highly technical and opaque. When the Council isn’t even following the law, the community has no chance of being heard. Brisbane deserves better. 76 Kooya Rd should be developed into a site with substantial parkland, community facilities and genuinely affordable and sustainably designed housing.
At a community forum last year, I showed some alternative ways the site could be developed. These options respond to the community's expressed wishes for the site - such as including community facilities, and preventing flooding, while still allowing for housing to be built. We do not have to choose between housing and community amenity. Council must reject this non-compliant DA and send the developers back to the drawing board.
I’ve written to the Chair of Council’s City Planning and Suburban Renewal Committee to remind Council that they are obligated to assess development applications under the current law. If you agree, use the form on this page to tell the Lord Mayor to demand better for Kooya Rd.