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Alan Fletcher Research Station - Subdivison DA (Impact Assessible - Generally Inappropriate)

Submitted by webmaster on Sat, 06/07/2013 - 12:40pm

An Impact Assessible development application has been submitted for the Alan Fletcher Research station property recently sold by the Queensland government to subdivide the property into individual lots.

Details can be found on council's website under application number A003652705



Unison plans to remove countless significant trees with Vegetation Protection Orders (VPO) in their bid to redevelop the former Alan Fetcher Research Station.

It is shocking how they plan to remove 55 out of 78 trees identified. To be fair some of the trees do need to be removed, however, most of the trees have been listed to be removed due to them getting in the way of the monumental earthworks that quite possibly will take place ("Bulk earthworks conflict. REMOVE."). Refer to the development application.

It is concerning that residents of Magazine Street will lose every single mature tree along this site boundary, even the ones with VPOs. The removal of a mature Liquid Amber and of a mature Bunya Pine among the losses. Liquid Ambers are deciduous and provide a spectacular display of colour before the leaves drop. It contributes to the streetscape and SHOULD NOT BE REMOVED.

On the other hand the Bunya Pine is perfectly healthy, but is set to go because it is supposedly "not suitable for residential lot." Yes, Bunya Pines drop enormous pine cones. This can happen - but it cannot be ignored that the chance of someone standing under the tree when one does fall happen to fall would be extremely slim. The tree sits in the corner of LOT26 and therefore poses little risk to property and could be easily cordoned off during such an event.

Therefore the tree does not pose an "immediate danger to life or property." Thus under The Natural Asset Local Law 2003 (NALL) it SHOULD NOT BE REMOVED!

Other issues with the scheme is that it provides absolutely NO PROPER PROVISION FOR ON-STREET PARKING. The street itself is only 5.5 meters wide! That is just as narrow as Magazine Street or Ferry Street (~6 meters). Everyone knows how allowing people to park in these streets causes problems for the residents of those streets and increases traffic congestion. Ferry Street could be widened to provide extra parking for the new park and the existing Sherwood Arboretum.

The park (if you could call it that) is well positioned and would be suited for Summer picnics and a good old barbeque. THIS WILL BE THE ONLY PUBLIC SPACE allocated by Unison. The green hatched area on the DA ("Park Land Area") is actually NOT PUBLIC, but will remain PRIVATE! This is probably so LOTS 9-15 can build some hideous jetties along the river.

Rivers in this country have always been public - this "Park Land Area" should be made public space. This will surely benefit the residents of Sherwood and the surrounding suburbs.

The development DOES NOT, at stated in The Sherwood/Graceville District Neighbourhood Plan, protect environment assets - instead it destroys them. The scale of the earthworks is unacceptable and has been classified as "high risk". Along with the removable of many mature trees and large swathes of 'cut and fill' it should NOT be allowed to go ahead in its current form. Furthermore, it may cause up to 20 large trucks a day to enter the site via Magazine/Hazelmere Streets (if more fill is needed).

We cannot allow for this DA to go through in its current form.

 I presume reading this reply that you live in Magazine St which is largely small lots of 400m2 and yet the smallest lot in this proposed development is 440m2 extending up to can you possibly argue incompatibility?
Regarding the park the massive sherwood aboretum is only 100m from this site and yet you assert that more parkland is necessary!!!
Regarding the trees. I note the felling of trees in our neighbourhood is a common occurence. New trees are alway re-planted which is what will happens here.
I live in Ferry St and will be affected by this development but I support it because it is entirely is just another street like any other around here. I walk to the park every day I see no argument for another park here.
On the topic of river pontoons I believe they will not be allowed as the area down to the river is private parkland
It is near my house as well I think it is OK!

NB: Copy of draft objection is linked here
I am writing to let you know that a development application (DA) to create 26 residential lots on the site has now been lodged with Council. Copies of plans for this site are available for viewing in my office or can be viewed free of charge on the Council website. The link is:
Once logged into PD Online you can access the DA by either inserting the application number or the street address above.
Should you wish to lodge a submission, details of the lodgement period will appear on the sign that will be erected onsite. Large black and white notification signs will be erected on both the Magazine and Ferry Street frontages in the next few weeks. Residents have 30 days to make a submission once the signs are erected.
I have reviewed the application and have attached a draft submission you may like to sign. You are most welcome to amend this submission or to write your own.
Whilst the proposal is for a low density residential subdivision, the plan fails to incorporate any significant open space in the site for community use. Only 1532sqm running down Ferry Street boundary will be kept as public parkland, less than 1% of the total site. The balance of the river frontage (the riparian zone protected anyway) is being designated as ‘private parkland’ and will form part of individual block backyards.
I am also concerned about the largely small lot block sizes, flooding impacts, plans to fill near the site on the Ferry Street frontage and the proposed removal of 55 of the 78 trees identified on site.
The current DA is only for a land subdivision. The ultimate purchasers of the blocks may also have to lodge a DA in future depending on their building intentions.
As local residents I encourage you to have your say about the plans impact on your neighbourhood. If you have any queries regarding this application or if I can be of assistance with any other council matter, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Yours sincerely
Nicole Johnston
Councillor for Tennyson

I live in Ferry St and will be be directly affected by this development.
I disagree with Cr Johnston's assessment of this development and provide counter arguments as follows:
Subdivision Design

Cr Johnston asserts that the density of this development is too high. I disagree, virtually every house along the eastern side of Magazine St is on a small lot of 400m2. On the southern side the site it is bounded by the ex army flats which is high density attached dwellings. On the northern side there are larger house blocks but we note one of those has just been split into 2 small lots....a trend likely to continue!
I believe the developer has a credible claim to argue compatibility with the local area given lot sizes no smaller than 440m2 up to maximum sizes >1000m2 despite the tree covenants.
Cr Johnston asserts that 50% of the site must be set aside for parkland. I believe additional parkland in this location is of little value given the massive Sherwood Arboretum is only about 100m away. 
If the council assessors agree with Cr Johnston and insist on 50% parkland the developer will have a very restricted amount of  land available for a low density development and would almost certainly re-design and build a large scale high density attached housing development in order to get a decent return on the reduced sized site.  I understand it would be possible to have more than 50 town houses under current town planning guidelines. This would create chaos on Magazine and Ferry St with parked cars, shopping trolleys on the footpath etc etc.
I am very worried about the knock on consequences as I believe the risk is very substantial indeed.
Cr Johnston asserts that essentially all trees should be retained on the site. 
We understand the developer has sort expert advice and also the council experts have been involved. We need to be realistic, while these trees will be cut down many others will be planted over time as the houses are built and developed. The cutting down of large trees in suburban back yards is a common occurrence around here. 
I suggest that we need to be practical and accept the fact that we live less than 10km from the CBD near a major transport link and we can't stop development because of a few trees that will be re-planted anyway.
Flooding and Fill
The council has definitive rules about flood levels and the developer must prove to the council engineers' satisfaction that any fill will not interrupt river flow. I don't see how community opinion can influence this, it is purely an engineering matter. For us we suggest this is not really relevant.
Car Parking
Modern houses are now generally built with 2 on site garage spaces. I can't see how this will be any different to the current Magazine St and Ferry St.

 I wish to advise as a local resident (Ferry St) I disagree with Cr Johnston's assessment of the developer's proposal.
Cr Johnston has been allowed to provide an objection letter on your site that can be downloaded for on- forwarding to council.
I am seeking the same right as Cr Johnston and provide the attached letter to be located beside Cr Johnston's link as the alternate view.
My letter is attached, could you please add it to your web site.
If you are unable to add my letter to this site I believe in the interest of fairness Cr Johnston's downloadable letter should be removed.
Thanking you in anticipation
Jim Crosthwaite
Webmaster comment: Jim's submission linked here

 I agree that the information you provide is factually correct but it provides NO supporting town planning argument that the development should be disallowed there. The council have fixed rules clearly stated in their planning documents that all habitable rooms must be above 2011 level + 500mm. Where does your analysis cover this? If you look at the site contours you will see that this can be achieved so your argument no matter how passionately you or others might believe in it, will be instantly dismissed by council assessors. You need to bear in mind that the council assessors can only decide on a development based on the town planning rules otherwise they will be challenged and defeated in the Planning & Environment Court appeal process. No amount of community feedback or sentiment can change the way the Planning & Environment court will apply the rules.

A host of photographs and maps will not change the council assessment. If it is possible to build a house with all habitable rooms above the level stated in the rules it will pass the assessment process. This applies even if the land was fully under during 2011 flood, because the house can have garages in the flood zone and habitable rooms constructed higher that meet the planning rules.
Regarding the matter where the developer is proposing to fill in flood prone areas, the development must have an engineering hydrology report to prove that the fill will not impede river flow. I understand this has already been approved by council and independent engineering experts.
Sorry Joe I can't see how this is of any real relevance to the arguments at hand.

Cr Nicole Johnston’s contribution on this subject was to draw attention to the deficiencies in the proposed DA where the BCC City Plan 2000 guidelines were not being met. The debate needs to remain focused on the facts and not fear or scaremongering of what might happen if this development does not get approved in its current form. Developers are notorious for placating community dissent with glowing marketing material and then submitting their DA in which the real objective becomes clear.
Prior to the current DA, it was proposed by the developer that there would be 23 blocks all of reasonable size and frontage (nothing under 500sqm all with a 15m frontage) - see attachment. Many within the community would not have significant issue with this. Then the actual DA reveals the developer is after 26 blocks (not 23, most with less than 15m frontages - small lot housing under the building codes) with other incremental changes that further erode the spirit of the BCC City Plan guidelines and the Sherwood/Graceville District Neighbourhood Plan -with reference to
The developers consultation process with the community was based on their original draft plan based on 23 blocks and therefore that is what the community was led to believe would be proposed. So I hardly think the developers position can be defended upon when they submit an opportunistic bid and increase the submission to 26 blocks.
As outlined in Cr Johnston's submission there are many points of the city plan that are contravened in the current DA submitted by the developer. Talk of economic viability assumes one has access to sensitive business information to determine that, therefore if that is the case please make that publicly known.
For community members who are keen to know more about these issues I encourage you to attend the WTSAG Community meeting scheduled for 11th August, 2013 at 12.00pm on site Ferry Street. 

 Sorry Heather I am a little confused by this response. You appear to be angry about the developer increasing the number of lots from 23 to 26. Whilst I agree this is somewhat annoying I don't support your aggressive opposition to the entire subdivision on these grounds. Whilst the developer has "stretched" this I contend it is still very similar to that originally proposed. Regarding provision for parkland and tree preservation the proposal is essentially unchanged from what was originally communicated and yet you are now changing the game completely by demanding the developer allocates 50% for parkland, no removal of trees etc etc 
Also, I find your implied accusation that I might have inside information about the economic viability of this project extremely offensive. I have NO such information and this has never been discussed with the developer. I do understand the financials associated with a development like this which is why I am circulating the above information. I am very concerned this might turn into another development like 39 Ferry St where the developer is desperately trying to squeeze in 5 additional town houses into a very small area......I live in Ferry St and will be directly affected by this development and the Alan Fletcher site. 
I disagree with you and Cr Johnston on this matter and I will be interested in listening to and participate in the community feedback meeting scheduled for 11th of August.

There are several points of (policy) interest and application both here and more generally ...

  1. It is self-obvious that increasingly developed areas have fewer trees hence open space aka park should always be part of a development but what is of equal or more concern is the ongoing loss of mature 'signature' trees throughout Brisbane ... a summary of and link to a recent view of this process can be found at ... The bunya could easily have been included in the road reserve for example were such trees really protected by BCC tree protection policies.
  2. parks are not just for the residents of a development but are part of a system of different types of parks and experiences forming a network for the residents of Brisbane and SEQ etc ... so to argue the proposal has sufficient parks or should not have any more area because it is close to the Arboretum is clearly ignoring the fact that much of the park area in Brisbane is being eroded eg Keating Park on Stamford Road and opposite Indooroopilly Shopping Centre being covered by ENERGEX and even more community buildings - hardly sport and recreation, open space, etc ...! Of course the parks can be developed differently too for different purposes so every bit of park that can be reasonably expected as a condition of a DA should be sought (not 'sort') to add to the total and variety as density etc increases ...
  3. while it is true to argue that houses can be built in the area known to be at high risk of major flooding, these houses should not be subsidised by those of us sensible enough not to buy in a flood-prone area ... so why should we pay ANY increase in insurance or rates to cover the council and other costs of those who knowingly risk being flooded. Council and the state government still do not emphasise that Brisbane is flood-prone ... hoping another major flood won't come ... as per post-1974 ...!
  4. taking these together, areas known to be flood-prone in major floods should not be approved for development but rather remain as open space eg 'park' ... otherwise the problem of Frew Park at Milton (the Milton Tennis Centre aka QLTA) and the Tennyson Powerhouse sites is inevitable just as it was with Northey Street ... Council and/or state government (in the case of planning schemes and government owned land) approves the development then buys the land back at many millions of dollars more due to the increase in value 'given' by Council to the developers ... when the land really is of much lower value if it should or better still cannot be used.

In the case of Alan Fletcher property, it seems the problem was created by the state government selling the land without conditions on the development 'potential' so should the state government buy back the flood-prone areas and add those to the public river frontage not private flood-prone housing?

My husband took this photo of an echidna in Verney Road West last weekend demonstrating the need to preserve the 40 metre corridor of green space, as specified in the Sherwood/Graceville Neighbourhood Plan, for the Alan Fetcher Research Station re-development. The diversity of our wildlife is significant and obviously involves many different species.

Desleigh Rose

I am part of the group involved in the Alan Fletcher development. I attended the recent meeting held at the site where you gave a very good presentation, along with Nicole Johnston.

One of the concerns constantly being raised with the development of the Alan Fletcher site is the removal of 70% of the trees. I just thought I would bring to your attention, in case you haven't already seen, the developer at 39 Ferry St spent 3 days last week removing every single tree on this property. This property has still not received approval for either the subdivision of the land nor the building of more units. We were absolutely horrified therefore to see absolutely every single tree being removed, and the trees on neighbouring properties being trimmed without any thought or planning from a specialist arborist. (Many of these trees would have made no impact on the future development of the site).

I have often brought up the fact that there is such an outcry over the development of the Alan Fletcher site, but the Ferry St development is slowly sliding in under the radar. This is going to have far more impact on our community if it is allowed to go ahead and now the attitude of the developer has really made us angry - almost a spiteful action on his behalf of removing all the trees.

if we are going to have half a chance of having this development halted, this action of theirs should be brought to the attention of the community and those who are passionate about saving our flora and fauna.

As some of you may be aware, the 23rd of October, marked the start date for local residents to submit their letters of objection or support for the development of the former Alan Fletcher Research Station. Unison Projects have already advertised this in the Westside News (on the 23rd), notified adjoining land owners via registered mail and put up signs on Ferry and Magazine streets as required. The last day of public comment is on the 6th of December 2013.

The development application (DA) has not changed much from the previous revision. Unison is still consistently denying the community’s intent and council’s request for a 40 m strip (measured from the HT mark) of public parkland along the entire frontage of the Brisbane River.

In their response to council they state that it was not the intent of the Sherwood/Graceville Neighbourhood Plan to have public parkland along the entire river frontage. I believe it was our intent to have public parkland along the entire river frontage. The local plan represents a consensus of views of the local community and thus it must also reflect the local community’s intent for the site.

Those who attended those early neighbourhood plan meetings would surely have their own ideas of what the future development would entail. In other words what they intended the outcome of the site to be, as a result of process of community consultation, it should be reflected in between the lines of the Sherwood/Graceville Neighbourhood Plan. When the local community came together to discuss the matter in question, I believe it was our intent to have a public park along the entire frontage of the Brisbane River – not just on one tiny block.

Unison also argues that even if this was the case, it would have a cul-de-sac effect, with problems with casual surveillance and generally become a risk to public safety because there is no northern link to the surrounding streets.

However, with the reconfiguration of the lots, a wide easement (say 10+ m) could provide a linking element between the New Road and the intersections of Joseph and Ferry streets. This means the park would no longer function as a stagnate dead end. The proposed parkland has clearly only come about due to planning restrictions (flood levels determining the useable areas of the site etc.) – not due to good urban planning or well executed architectural design I suspect.

Unison also refers to various similar precedent studies in other local plan localities (Fig Tree Pocket, Yeronga and Mogill). However, in my opinion they fail to recognise that the local conditions in these localities vary greatly different from those that are experienced or that are evident in our area. For one they are comparing totally different localities – that vary in levels of density, urban design strategies (layout of streets etc.), the nature/quantity of existing riverfront public parkland provided, traffic conditions and history. It would be incorrect to assume that the ‘lifestyle’ or one’s notion of place in Fig Tree Pocket would be the same as that expressed in Sherwood. Fig Tree Pocket has a lot of rural/semi-developed land. Sherwood mostly consists of a fabric of detached houses on smaller lots (and increasingly less yard) paired with little greenspace to cater for the effect of urbanisation. We need more public parks. This is my major concern with the current proposal.

Furthermore, the incorporation of a bio-retention swale into the footpath of the new road seems like an oversight. It is 1 m in width on in the middle of a 4.25 m footpath. That leaves only 1.6 m of useable foot path on either side and with the placement of street trees (which must be placed at least 0.6 m back from the kerb) that means that the footpath will be impossible to walk on without walking into a street tree. The footpath combined with a bio-retention swale is not the best design solution, since they could not place it in the public park, after previous objections. Furthermore, the other footpath (only 3.75m wide) is not continuous – thus the new road has not provided any practical footpaths (of adequate widths) for pedestrians to use without walking on the road.

The prosed intersection design (on the Traffic Functional Layout drawing) shows there to be 2 on-street car parks at the end of Ferry Street, past the intersection of Joseph Street. These car spaces are shown on the right-hand side of the street (from direction of travel) and are far less than functional. Ferry Street at this point is only about 6 m wide (plus footpaths) and there is no provision for any turning circle. All the local residents know that streets like Magazine and Ferry required more than a 3-point turn to turn around in. So how do these cars park next to the new park from the direction of travel? This needs to be addressed.

In terms of trees the 30m Bunya Pine on Magazine Street will stay which is promising, however, every other tree along the Magazine Street frontage will still disappear during development (to somewhat be expected).

These are just some of the issues I can see (public parkland, incorporation of the bio-retention swale into the footpath, on-street parking in Ferry Street and environmental damage to trees) – but there are many more I am worried about.

Only because something has always been done a certain way, does not mean it should continue to be done that way.

What I have stated is purely my opinion in response to the revised proposal. I urge people to submit their letter of objections or support for the current revision of the DA. I wait to see what decision is made …

As of now, most residents would be aware that the public notification period has elapsed and the notice regarding the demolition of various existing structures has commenced (as of today's hand posted letter). Unison have now contracted 'Enviro Site Services' to carryout the demolition works on site. This includes the demolition of buildings that contain asbestos.

The contractor has asked residents of Magazine and Ferry streets to leave a "clearway" (i.e. no parking either side) during site hours.

SITE HOURS: 6:30 am to 5:00 pm Monday to Friday

FROM: 10/12 to 20/12 and then 6/01 to sometime in March next year

In this regard, Magazine Street residents might remember that it was only last weekend that the street had cars parked on both sides - blocking the street. This meant that numerous drivers found it difficult and at times impossible to navigate through the area (many had to turn around). I will applaud the contractor if they can manage to not allow a single car to park in Magazine or Ferry Streets during this time.

I believe to avoid further parking related incidents on Magazine or Ferry Streets a yellow line should be painted down one side to resolve this.

Drivers could understandably make the mistake that two car could park across from each other - because not quite 2 cars can park but there is plenty of room for 1. When parking there must be minimum of 3 m between your car and the opposite kerb/road centre line or car.

I wait for the final decision on the DA. Otherwise, I hope that the demolition process of the former Alan Fletcher Research Station goes smoothly - for our sakes.

Major work is about to commence on site, with the arrival of a large digger. Unfortunately the workers managed to damage the road surface in the process of moving the equipment off the truck (they are attempting fix it now by compacting it with another digger).

Also seeing them reverse a very long/wide truck past parked cars went luckily without a hitch, but it would be nerve-racking for people who parked in Magazine Street today.

I suspect demolition will start soon as large diggers cost a small fortune to hire/run. Therefore I suspect that the Alan Fletcher Research Station will been no more by Christmas Day. According to the public notice, demolition will cease on the afternoon of the 20th of December (before starting up in the new year). With earthworks probably commencing in the new year (pending the approval of the DA of course).