Summary Report of Community Feedback from "Talk to a Planner" Session 6 August 2009
The extensive feedback recorded by Council staff at the "Talk to a Planner Session" on the 6 August 2009 has been collated and sorted into several themes. This report summarises the key points within these themes and draws conclusions about overall community opinion.
There is significant community concern associated with the proposal of up to five storey development around the Corinda and Sherwood Centres. This concern is associated with increased traffic, parking issues, noise impacts, loss of character and perceived social consequences. Most attendees felt that growth could not be accommodated without upgrading the existing road and transport infrastructure. Strong community opinion was expressed that provision and upgrading of infrastructure needs to occur before density is increased.
1. Impacts of five storey development around Centres
Many residents attending the workshops objected strongly to the proposal to allow increased density development in their area. Many suggested alternative locations in South East Queensland where growth would be better accommodated. There was a reluctant acceptance of three storey, but considerable objection to five storey development. Several people believed that allowing five storey buildings would provide a precendent for even higher density development to be allowed in the area in the future. A point was also raised that if current take-up of three storey development has not been maximised, there is no need or demand to increase the allowable development height to five storeys.
A proportion of attendees expressed support for the proposal for development, provided the design of new buildings was sympathetic to the existing area. Some support was also articulated in terms of refurbishment or revitalisation of the Sherwood and Corinda Centres.
Attendees had many concerns with the direct impacts (e.g. overshadowing, loss of character), and the potential indirect impacts (e.g. crime, changed demographic) of the increased density.
The main concerns have been separated into the following themes.
Many residents highlighted that there were already a significant number of traffic related issues present within the area, and felt that increased density of the scale proposed in the draft Plan would impact severely on already congested roads. The traffic during peak times was particularly emphasised as a major barrier to access within the Plan area suburbs, and to locations outside the Plan area, including the city centre.
Most residents believed the Walter Taylor Bridge and associated roads did not have the capacity to support the proposed density increase. Many believed that the 5% increase predicted by Council's Traffic and Transport section was grossly underestimated. Oxley Rd was discussed frequently as a major traffic 'bottle neck' for the area.
Several residents highlighted the issue of rat-running through suburban streets and the impact this has on the area's traffic network and on neighbourhood safety. There was also some concern around the safety and amenity impacts of freight transport using suburban routes within the area.
An increase in traffic volume and on-street parking (see next point, 'Parking') was also seen to be a threat to the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists.
People were generally sceptical of the viability of Active Transport (e.g. walking, cycling) and public transport as a solution to traffic congestion issues. Their concerns centred around safety and security, and convenience (e.g. the need for private vehicle use when grocery shopping). Opinions were expressed that people would like to have the infrastructure to make pedestrian and cycle movements possible, but do not want it to be their only option.
A general lack of parking within the area, and particularly around rail stations and schools was identified as a major concern by many people. Limited off-road parking and narrow streets were thought to be contributing to the parking problems in the area. Residents believed that these issues would only be compounded by increased density. There were several suggestions to modify parking regulations of any new development.
Increased density was thought to bring more on-street parking, which would have a negative impact on the safety and convenience of those living nearby.
1.3 Pressures on existing public transport networks
Numerous comments were made regarding the capacity of existing public transport to cope with increased density. There were comments that peak hour train services were already significantly congested, and bus services we not adequate. Wheelchair access and lack of parking were also tabled as issues relating to rail transport.
There were several comments that bus services were not adequate within the plan area. Better connectivity across the area, better bus services to the city and the inclusion of school bus routes were thought to be necessary.
The concept of a City Cat travelling further up the river was brought up numerous times by attendees who felt that river transport could aid in solving traffic congestion issues.
1.4 Reduced land values
Several residents were worried about decreased land values and increased rates as a result of the change of 'zoning' to a higher density (e.g. Low-medium density to Medium Density). These residents also had concerns for the flow-on social implications of the rates rise, that is, existing residents could be priced out of the area.
1.5 Social Impacts
A majority of residents were concerned with the social impacts that they believed would result as a consequence of higher density development in the area. Most felt that the area would lose its unique "village" or "community feel".
Many attendees at the workshops expressed concern that a change in demographics and the influx of "renters" would impact negatively on the area and the community. There was limited "buy-in" to the concept of "ageing in place", with several comments that people want to age in their homes and not downsize as suggested.
There was mixed reaction to the incorporation of affordable housing within the higher-density areas, with some strongly objecting to the proposal while others strongly supported the idea.
1.6 Loss of character
A considerable number of attendees at the meeting were concerned with the loss of character which they believed would be a major impact of increased density development. There was some concern for the impact on individual character houses, but the main issue was the loss of the overall character of the area. The residents of the area are passionate about maintaining the heritage values of the area, and thought that the draft Plan would compromise these values.
Many believed that there should be no more infill development in character areas and that the whole plan should be preserved as character areas of Brisbane.
People supported the strengthening of character provisions but gelt that more areas than just those included in the "West Side Character Precinct" needed to be protected. There was also some contention over the boundaries of these precints. Several people question why houses to the eastern side of Honour Avenue were not included, and some people queried why protection was not extended to post-1946 houses.
1.7 Aestheric/Visial impacts
The aethetics of five storey dwellings was also identified as an issue. Shadowing, reduced privacy, changes to the streetscape and obstruction of views and breezes were highlighted as negative consequences of five storey dvelopment. Any support for the proposal was based on the premise that design specifications would be applied to new development so that it was aesthetically appealing, and that beautification of streetscapes would occur.
There was a general belief that the proposed increase in density would significantly impact on the "attractiveness" of the area. There was a general consensus of being happy with the area as it is, and an objection to Council improsing growth and change in the area.
1.8 Pressures on other infrastructure
Residents were also worried about pressure on other existing infrastructure in the area. Water availability and pressure were highlighted by several people as current issues, who expressed an expectation that this would only deteriorate as a result of increased density. Concerns about the capacity of other utilities (e.g. gas) was also expressed.
Several residents also worried about the capacity of schools within the area to accommodate the growth. There were also some people concerned with adequate provision of medical facilities and the capability of ambulances and emergency services to travel throughout the area as a consequence of the increased density.
2. Five storey development at St Aidan's
Mixed opinion existed on the proposed five storey development of the St Aidan's site. Of those with major concerns, increased traffic, parking and overshadowing were the most common issues raised.
Some members of the St Aidans's community expressed disappointment with their treatment by Council during the planning process.
3. Concerns with the proposed bus depot on Sherwood Road
There was mixed response to the proposed Bus Depot within the plan area. Many felt that the proposal would result in an unwanted increase in bus traffic, but others could understand the potential benefits. Many residents believed the process was rushed and could not understand why Sherwood was deemed the best location for a bus depot. Concerns were predominantly with the increased volume of bus traffic on already congested roads and the associated noise, pollution, safety (around schools) and access impacts.
4. Environmental issues
Some community members provided feedback regardng environmental issues associated with the draft Plan. Comments relating to the retention of significant trees, the possibility of implementing community gardens, and ecologically sustainable design of new buildings. There was a common them of attendees wanting green space preserved, and the natural values of the area enhanced. There were several requests for Ecological Sustainability principles to be incorporated in the plan. There was concern about increased density compromising the environmental work already undertaken in the area.
5. Area Classification changes
There were several challenges and requests to change, or not change certain properties' Area Classifications ('zoning'). These requests will be followed up individually with the concerned property owners after advice from the relevant Council area (e.g. Heritage) is received and discussed. These requests were varied between wanting Demolition Control Precincts added, removed or retained, and queries about properties proposed to be included in the MP3 Centres.
6. Other Issues/General
Other miscellaneous issues included concern with how potential flooding would be managed, questions about specific parcels of land, and issues around timing of infrastructure/development. Several people commented that disabled/elderly access and mobility was an issue throughout the area. There was also some general feedback provided regarding both city wide issues, and concerns with the Neighbourhood Planning process. These comments have been noted and shared with other relevant sections of Council
The above report summarises the main feedback from the "Talk to a Planner" session regarding the draft Sherwood/Graceville District Neighbourhood Plan. The valuable feedback received from residents is currently being considered by the Neighbourhood Planning Team and the proposed draft Plan is being refined.