Redland City Council has urged the state government to avoid expanding the city’s urban footprint, insisting the area has enough dwelling capacity to accommodate population growth to 2046.
Councillors voted 10-1 at a special meeting last Wednesday to lodge a formal submission with the planning minister in response to the government’s draft South-East Queensland Regional Plan.
It contains key issues, concerns and policy positions council believes the state government must consider as part of its region-shaping review.
The submission urges the government to prioritise the delivery of housing in the consolidation area over continuing with “ad hoc” greenfield development.
“The state government should instead focus on unlocking dwelling capacity in the existing urban footprint by investing in key region shaping infrastructure,” the report says.
“This will ensure a higher number of new dwellings are provided in proximity to existing jobs, services, public transport and lifestyle opportunities.
“It will also ensure the significant costs associated with servicing new expansion areas are avoided, improving council’s overall financial sustainability.”
The submission argues against expanding the urban footprint into Southern Thornlands, saying a move towards “suburban scale residential development” was at odds with council’s plans for the site.
Council also warned that large-scale development in the area had the potential to impact matters of national environmental significance, meaning it could be subject to referral under the EPBC Act.
“No reasoning has been provided as to why the entirety of the Southern Thornlands area is required to be included in the urban footprint,” the report says.
“The draft ShapingSEQ project team have not considered alternative sites to Southern Thornlands that might otherwise be more suitable locations to accommodate urban growth.”
Tension between the state government and council over dwelling supply and diversity in Redlands culminated in Planning Minister Steven Miles taking control of the city’s housing strategy last year.
Mr Miles said at the time that council’s City Plan was based on outdated population data and did not take into account significant population and housing challenges over the past decade.
“The people of Redlands – now and into the future – need affordable homes urgently,” he said.
Council maintains that the takeover was premature and a more appropriate time to undertake the work would have been in the lead up to the next Redland City Plan review, scheduled for 2026.
Mayor Karen Williams said increasing the urban footprint without state government commitments to delivering critical infrastructure raised serious concerns about maintaining the region’s “liveability”.
“The state government should support council in prioritising the delivery of the critical state infrastructure the Redland community is already crying out for, including major road upgrades, enhanced public transport, and improvements to emergency services, health care and schools.”
The draft SEQ Regional Plan, released in August, indicates that about 20,000 homes will be required in Redlands by 2046 to accommodate an expected population increase of 50,000 people.
Council’s submission said an independent review showed Redlands had existing capacity within the urban footprint to provide 20,080 new dwellings by 2046, demonstrating it was able to accommodate the state’s growth benchmarks.
“There is no need to expand the urban footprint or provide new growth areas to accommodate additional residential growth,” the report says.
Redland City News asked the planning department to confirm what percentage of the new homes proposed for Redlands would be added to Southern Thornlands, but it declined to answer this question.
An officers’ report tabled at the special meeting claims the area is “anticipated to accommodate up to 15,000 new residents, as well as industrial and commercial enterprises”.
It said the government’s proposal for “suburban scale housing” conflicted with council’s preferred land use, which includes rural residential living.
A planning department spokeswoman said Redlands required more attached low-rise housing such as apartments and townhouses, including in Southern Thornlands. “By necessity, we must place a greater focus on diversity and well-developed density in areas that can cater for growth,” she said.
“Appropriate and realistic dwelling diversity targets to be included in the final plan will provide guidance as to the preferred mix of dwellings for local governments and will be defined collaboratively with councils.
“The Southern Thornlands expansion area will not only provide diverse and affordable housing stock but has also been identified as an opportunity to provide much needed land for business and industry within Redland City Council.”