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Inner West Town Hall - Proposals and Discussions

A sustainable vision for the Inner West

The inner west is a wonderful place to live, but right now the close relationship between big business and developers and an apathetic LNP council have hollowed out public services and created a Brisbane that caters to cars and big business, not people and corner stores.

Here are some of The Greens proposals for a more liveable Westside, as presented at our 2024 town hall. 

1. A new bus from Fig Tree Pocket to Indooroopilly

A new route that includes Jesmond Road, and more frequent 445 and 430 services - including later and weekend services. Even though it is so close to Indooroopilly Shopping Centre and train station, for residents of Fig Tree Pocket driving is almost always easier and more convenient than public transport.

Parking and congestion are major problems in our neighbourhood, and we can only truly address it by further investing in our public transport, and making it reliable, accessible and affordable for everyone.

2. A new public pool

There used to be a public pool in Toowong, until Council sold it off in 2001.This means Westsiders need to drive across town or pay exorbitant fees just for a swim. It also forces local primary schools to hold their swimming carnivals outside of our local community. 

Pools are vital public spaces that build social cohesion and break down isolation and loneliness in our suburbs. Especially as our summers heat up, we need cheap and free spaces for people to come together. 


3. Legislate a vacancy tax to secure some action at the Tricare site

For years, our community has been concerned about the poor community consultation on the development plans for the Tricare site. Recently, another development application has been lodged. Rather than work with the community to ensure the site is securely maintained in between Tricare’s acquisition of the site and construction, it has become a community eyesore. More importantly, the community has never been adequately consulted about development on the site.

A vacancy tax will incentivise Tricare to act on the derelict site now, rather than stalling, as they’re been doing for nearly a decade.

4. Preserve the Toowong Central site for affordable housing and community use

Toowong Central is the now empty site across from Toowong Village in the heart of Toowong. It used to be a Woolworths before it was relocated inside the centre, and subsequently the ‘Aviary’ proposed development. Recently, that development failed, leaving the site in limbo while developers are proposing a very large merged site for luxury apartments.

Toowong desperately needs more public affordable and social housing and greenspace. We can’t continue to watch on as Council lets dodgy developers waste valuable land while thousands of people are searching for a home and public infrastructure is underfunded.


5. Fully fund our State Schools and push for a publicly owned new school in the Inner West

In October 2023 the State Government opened registrations of interest to identify options for a new school on the West side - but it won’t happen until 2029.

We’ve been pushing for this for a long time, and while we desperately need a new school, 2029 is just too far down the track. Already there are demountables on the oval at Indooroopilly State high School to accommodate the growing number of kids in the area.

We need to fully fund our state schools and plan for our children’s future, making sure that no kids are left behind or go without when we have the means to ensure that every child has a first-rate education.

6. Complete the Indooroopilly bikeway along Lambert Rd

This route is one of the biggest cycling “black holes” on the westside. Lambert Rd is a busy road that provides access to many essential services. Completing the Indooroopilly bikeway would make it easy to ride to:

  • UQ
  • Schools around Lambert Rd including Indooroopilly ISHS, Brigidine College, Holy Family and St Peters Lutheran College
  • Indooroopilly train station and Indooroopilly Shopping Centre
  • Fig Tree Pocket and Ambrose Treacy College

Without separated bike lanes, cyclists are braving dangerous road traffic or are being forced onto the footpath with pedestrians. Safe, physically protected bike lanes on major roads make cycling a real option.


Discussion summary

At the town hall, the audience broke into small groups to talk together how the sustainable cities principles would affect decision-making and planning in their neighbourhood. Each group responded to the same three questions.

Inner west question 1:

Currently many neighbourhoods in the inner-west lack enough cultural spaces and third spaces where people can hang out and socialise or engage in recreation. The St Lucia Golf Course site is owned by Brisbane City Council. Most of the site is highly vulnerable to flooding and should only be used as green space, but the northwest corner near Carawa Street is above the floodplain. What other community uses and types of green space would you like to see introduced on the St Lucia Golf Course site? Or should it remain exactly as it is?

  • Most groups were enthusiastic about the idea of putting the land to alternative uses, noting there are other golf courses, some close by. Only one group had ‘no strong feelings about changing it’.
  • Some individuals felt they lacked information about the current usage of the course. 
  • Returning the course to a more natural state was a popular idea across the groups. Suggestions included:
    • Create a Sandy Creek corridor from Indro Shopping Town
    • Create wetlands to support birds
    • Make it Land for Wildlife/ a wild park, not mown. 
    • Create access to the river for community use (like at Graceville Boat Club)
    • Revegetate as bushland/bush tracks.
    • Rewild/rehabilitate the creek
    • Expand community garden and food production
  • People who had good knowledge of the usage of the current site advocated for the existing bar and function facilities to be retained as they already function as a community space.
  • There were several suggestions to use the high end of the site differently: two groups suggested it could be the site of a new high school, one suggested it could be a public pool. The same group also suggested it could be used for free camping for homeless people, with the addition of toilets and showers. Another group suggested space for an arts school and live bands.

Inner west question 2:

A 20 minute walkable neighbourhood means workplaces, shops, services and other destinations that residents need to access on a regular basis are within easy reach without having to drive a private car.

What services, facilities and regular destinations are currently within 15-20 minutes walk from your home? What are the other services, facilities or destinations that you would like to have  within 20 minutes walk from your home? 

  • Some in the discussion felt that Toowong is well-serviced, but that other areas of the Inner West like Taringa and St Lucia less so. 
  • Residents of Toowong noted ways in which Toowong isn’t a 20 minute neighbourhood, citing difficulty of accessing Toowong train station and Toowong Village from some directions, hazardous walk to QASMT and lack of safe bike paths.
  • Several groups noted that using cars in necessary due to lack of public transport infrastructure:
    • bus routes are not easy to negotiate
    • Taringa train station is in accessible
    • need more links and connectivity to make PT an option
    • more rail and buses needed
    • need all-weather bus stops
    • better footpaths for safety and access for wheelchairs.
  • Roads in some areas of the Inner West are ‘too narrow for through traffic’.
  • Young people in the group emphasised the lack of safe bike paths. Existing bike paths are not safe enough. 

On the question of what facilities should be in a 20 minute neighbourhood, a public pool was the most common answer, raised by 4 of 6 groups. One group noted that there is nowhere in the Western suburbs where you can go for rehabilitation after surgery or injury.

Other suggestions were:

  • A wildlife corridor
  • Multi-purpose community and art centre with library
  • Library
  • Live music/entertainment
  • Genuine community child care centre
  • Dog park
  • Community centre
  • Citizen assemblies
  • Community waste hub (like in Sydney)
  • Recycling hub
  • Infant health centre
  • Art

There was some discussion about whether libraries are still relevant in a digital age. Most people agreed libraries have shifted in their approach and still perform a vital community function. 

A number of participants emailed commentary about the concept of a 20-minute neighbourhood. One wrote bewildered by Brisbane’s apparent inability to copy cities around the world to deliver good public transport: 

“A friend performing in Mary Poppins at QPAC couldn’t stay with me in Bardon as there was no transport for her to get back to my house after 10pm, without long walks through dark, unfamiliar streets…I only live 5k from QPAC… crazy stuff!”

Another highlighted the problem of planning failing to consider an area as a whole, noting that past City plans that envisaged Toowong as a second CBD ignored the unsuitability of the roads. 

“Planning needs to look at the whole picture, rather than focus on single issues. For example, council may consider the impact of car use from one high rise development. Five other might be in varying stages of proposal - the cumulative impact needs to be considered.”

Inner west question 3:

Developers currently have too much power in council, leading to land-banking and abandoned sites that could instead be used for public housing, green space or community hubs.

The Toowong Central site on Sherwood Rd across from Toowong Village is currently abandoned and being landbanked by developers - what would you like to see here instead?

Unsurprisingly, many of the ideas generated from the second question reappeared in this discussion. One group felt very strongly that the developers should be made to turn it into a public greenspace, as they were told to do by Council (before the site was sold to another developer, who have applied for a material change of use. The community has no opportunity to make submissions on this application). 

None of the groups felt proceeding with a private residential development was a priority for the area: “there’s not enough infrastructure for that many new residents”. 

Alternate uses for the site proposed by participants across the groups included:

  • Arts centre
  • Community centre
  • Theatre
  • Pool 
  • Park (and ‘pool under a park’!)
  • School
  • Public housing
  • Affordable/social housing
  • Bus interchange

A few suggestions were for the area generally, rather than the Toowong Central site:

  • Green bridge
  • Tidal pool at the end of Lambert Rd

In one group the facilitator asked participants to prioritise their wishlist, and got 5 votes each for a pool or a school, one vote for public housing and 2 votes for a theatre.