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The Future of Moggill-Bellbowrie

Neglected by successive governments

From horrendous traffic on Moggill road, to inadequate public transport, to a lack of facilities in the area, this fast growing area has been neglected by governments of all levels. The floods earlier this year reminded us that Moggill and Bellbowrie still get cut off in flooding events, leaving children stranded apart from their parents, and vulnerable people unable to get help. 

I want to work with the residents of Moggill-Bellbowrie to design a comprehensive, planned solution that considers the needs of the community holistically.

2023 Community conversations

Following the 2022 forum hosted by me and my team, the Lions Club of Brisbane West picked up the baton, organising Community Conversations for residents of Moggill, Bellbowrie and Anstead in March and April, which I attended with a member of my team. The Lions Club plan to hold more conversations over coming months. 

It's great that the community is actively engaging in creating a vision for the future! I'm going to keep advocating for better local infrastructure - like a neighbourhood centre and a high school - because that will both make the area more liveable and reduce congestion on Moggill Rd, and for a route out of the area (especially for emergencies) over the river. These essentials have been neglected for too long. 

2022 Future of Moggill-Bellbowrie Forum

After a series of conversations with members of the Moggill-Bellbowrie community, the Ryan team and I put on a community forum at Moggill State School in November 2022 to find out what the people who live and work in the area want. I was blown away by the amazing turnout – around 140 people – and incredibly robust discussion at The Future of Moggill-Bellbowrie forum on Sunday 13 November. 

I am very grateful to everyone who came along, especially Veronica Laverick, Dr Laurel Johnson, and Cr Jonathan Sriranganathan for speaking, and to Charles Worringham for emceeing the event. It was obvious there is a great appetite in the community to shape the future of the area, and I am very glad to be able to play a role in facilitating that.

Locals are the experts in their own area, and deserve to be heard on issues that affect them but it was very clear many feel there hasn't been sufficient opportunity to come together as a community in the past. My team and I are talking with various community groups about another gathering, and we hope there will be regular meetings while we work to win support from the relevant authorities. 

The purpose of the event was to start the conversation and to hear from the local community as much as possible. Coming out of the event I felt a number of things are very clear, and some other things requires a little more teasing out.

Moggill-Bellbowrie needs more services

There was overwhelming support for the need to establish more services so that people don’t have to travel out of the area just to access basic services.

Specific services that people seemed to have real enthusiasm for were:

  • a community centre and meeting space (it’s crazy that there isn’t this facility already!),
  • a new high school (there are 1200 local kids of high school age already in the area, and this number is only set to rise),
  • specialist medical facilities,
  • more facilities for young people.

There were more ideas about other services, but these ones seem the most urgent.

The community understand that the lack of services is a major contributor to the "constipated" (thank you Laurel Johnson for that description!) traffic on Moggill Rd. People noted that school drop-off creates problems along the length of Moggill Rd. 

Cr Jonathan Sriranganathan gave a cautionary note that political leaders will not make a plan for building more services unless they get worried about losing votes, referencing the lack of a plan for a new high school in his ward, despite massive growth. 

Emergency access and escape must be addressed

While floods have been top of everyone's minds for the past few months, I was glad to hear people raise the issue of bushfires – we need to be prepared for both!

One thing that is a partial answer to both is a bridge from Bellbowrie to either Wacol or Riverhills. There was broad support (about 2/3s of the room from the show of hands) for this to be a bus and pedestrian/cycling bridge that can also function as an emergency access and escape bridge for cars in case of flood or fire.

However, this one was definitely an idea that needed more discussion going forward, as a decent number of people preferred a car bridge, and others had concerns about a bridge at all. It was noted that having a car bridge could open up a route west to Ipswich, Warwick and Toowoomba. 

Finding the right location for a bridge does have some challenges: the approach to the bridge and its landing on the other side must also be clear of flooding. I personally feel a design solution is possible, and because this could be a very important and useful piece of local infrastructure to resolve a number of issues for the area, it deserves a deeper community conversation going forward.

Public transport fixes could start now

On the broader issue of public transport, there was the recognition that while the 444 is a fairly good service, there are two key issues:
  • it gets stuck in traffic at peak times further up Moggill Rd,
  • there aren't enough links to that service.

One suggestion was to change the terminus of the bus from Westaway Park to the great sports facilities down the road, creating better access to those facilities. What a shame "Brisbane's new bus network" didn't include any improvements to services on the West Side: these changes could be made now. 

People also seemed to support the idea of pushing council or the state government to deliver a ‘Transport and Mobility Study’ for the Moggill and Bellbowrie areas – giving us the research and data we need to then advocate for more concrete transport solutions.

Development needs proper planning

Some locals raised concerns about the number of subdivisions and new developments going in, which is clearly an issue in the area. Others recognised that some development is inevitable and is not necessarily a bad thing. As Mark Kerle said, the area is changing and the point is not to stop change but to ensure that change takes into account the needs of the community. It has to be done with genuine community consultation, with a serious consideration of the environmental impacts, and with forward planning about precisely the transport, service, and access issues.

What next? 

The question of where to build

Whether we're talking about a bridge, a new high school or more services, finding sites is a key question that needs to be answered.  For services, the Bellbowrie Plaza site is in serious need of a revamp and has a number of advantages, including being located within walking distance of much of Bellbowrie... but the site is prone to flooding. 

More community conversations

There was clearly an appetite to keep these conversations going, and work towards a set of key things to push for from the local, state and federal governments. Ultimately, this has to be driven by the community itself, and there needs to be a united vision so politicians are forced to listen. Having mature, constructive conversations in the community to work out common solutions that are supported by the overwhelming majority of people will make a big difference.