Mayor: ‘serious conversation’ needed on urban sprawl

Published 10:00am 6 January 2023

Mayor: ‘serious conversation’ needed on urban sprawl
Words by Kylie Knight

Moreton Bay Regional Council Mayor Peter Flannery says a serious conversation about infill developments – building new homes in established centres - needs to happen this year to prevent further suburban sprawl.

His comments come as greater green protections take effect across the region, forcing developers to protect hundreds of hectares of bushland in the past two years.

It has been the result of conditions attached to development approvals and in response to community concerns that the pace of development is outstripping environmental protections.

Mayor Peter Flannery says Council has heard the message loud and clear.

“While we can’t stop growth, we can grow better by being smarter and we know you want us to be more strategic about this,” he says.

“It means in 2023 we’ll need to have a very serious conversation about infill developments, so we construct new housing around our established centres and stop further urban sprawl.

“We will also be releasing our very first Environment and Sustainability Strategy, with an ambitious climate target. Which will be hard, but necessary work.

“Over the past two years alone, the conditions we’ve put on development approvals have preserved 500 hectares or enough land to cover the Gabba 200 times over.

“When a developer submits an application to Council, we require them to give something back to the community.

“Sometimes that comes in the form of new roads and infrastructure to support the growth they’re creating, but we also require them to give back land for environmental purposes to protect our wildlife, and greenspaces for parks, sports, and other recreational facilities for residents to enjoy.”

Mayor Flannery says Council has also secured 30,000 new trees, planted by developers, during the past two years.

“We know that development has to happen in Moreton Bay to keep up with the growth demands of South East Queensland and to provide homes for people during the current housing crisis,” he says.

“But I want locals to know that your Council has heard loud and clear your concerns about development as our region continues to grow. It’s a concern I share too, which is why we’ve been diligently acting to offset development by preserving hundreds of hectares of land.

“That’s why we’re acting now to minimise the impact that growth has on our local environment and residents’ lifestyle.”

Mayor: ‘serious conversation’ needed on urban sprawl

Tick of approval

Christine West from Moreton Bay Wildlife Hospital Foundation, who has recently successfully lobbied for environmental offsets on numerous Development Applications at Warner, says she is pleased with Council’s direction.

“I would like to acknowledge this Council and thank them for listening and responding to those ongoing communities’ concerns,” Christine says.

“I believe this approach is industry best practice and I hope that it’s incorporated in all future development applications, so we can put our region first each and every time.

“I think there is always more that needs to be done to better protect our environment from future development, but I believe the foundations are there to build a better Moreton Bay.”

Adopting a balanced approach

Urban Development Institute of Australia Queensland, Moreton Bay Branch president Keith Cairns says developers are committed to balancing the needs and priorities of a growing population, while maintaining the ecological values and the lifestyle that we all expect.

“As developers we want to ensure we’re doing everything we can to balance those priorities,” he says.

“Moreton Bay, along with many other areas of the state, are experiencing a period of growth and change this means that we need to continue to balance those priorities to ensure we are delivering a better future for everyone.”

Mayor Flannery says there are many examples of developments across the region where the environment has been looked after through development application offsets.

“At Kinma Valley, formerly Pine Valley, we’ve received 95ha of land alone from the developer for environmental reserve and open space for wildlife and residents to enjoy,” Mayor Flannery explains.

“Additionally, the developer has chosen to preserve a further 187.2ha of land themselves for environmental purpose only, which is an amazing bonus for the community.

“This is just one of many examples where Council is using development applications to offset development right across the region as we continue to ‘Green as we Grow’.

“Like the 15ha of open space we got back at Gibbons Rd, Samford Valley, the 9,533sqm of vegetation and koala habitat that was protected at Caboolture River Rd, Rocksberg, or the lake, park and open space that was transferred from the developer at Capestone Estate into Council’s hands to maintain and preserve, and so many more.

“We have a number of separate initiatives that complement this work, like the Land Buyback For Environmental Purposes program, which has so far purchased 83ha of land for wildlife since 2020.

“We’re continuing to build green infrastructure like koala and wildlife crossings, koala fencing to protect them from roads, and this year we’re rolling out a record tree-planting program with 210,000 new trees.”

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