Below is the content of an email I sent on Monday, 9 April asking the Lord Mayor to conduct detailed community consultation in the development of a new masterplan for the Riverside Drive Parklands along the West End and South Brisbane riverfront. This is not the first time I have raised the issue with council, but to date we have not received a clear response as to when masterplanning will occur. If you also believe we need a masterplan for Riverside Drive, I encourage you to email the Lord Mayor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear Lord Mayor Graham Quirk and Councillor McLachlan,
I write to again draw to your attention the urgent need for a masterplan of Riverside Drive parklands in West End/South Brisbane that includes a properly resourced and genuinely democratic community consultation process. Significant funds should be allocated in the coming financial year to this masterplanning process.
The pace of change in this part of the Gabba Ward has been rapid, but existing planning documents do not sufficiently identify what kinds of improvements should be made to different parts of this much-loved and heavily-used riverside public space. This lack of a clear plan is causing, and will continue to cause, significant conflict between different groups of residents and between different departments of council.
There are a number of recent and impending decisions and issues which highlight the flaws of the current ad hoc approach to planning, management and development of these parklands:
- Debates about the best way to expand the dog off-leash area (‘DOLA’) near Orleigh Park, and the loss of the Hockings St dog park due to the contaminated land remediation work (this loss comes at a time when there is high demand for expanded DOLAs with better facilities)
- Uncertainty about what standard the remediated land near Hockings St should be restored to and what facilities ought to be installed there
- Proposals to expand the size and physical footprint of the Brisbane and GPS Rowing Club on Hill End Terrace
- Continued use of Riverside Drive by Brisbane Grammar buses and boat trailers to access the boat shed near Davies Park - this is causing dangerous conflicts between cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles on a stretch of road which is supposed to be closed to cars
- Questions about the long-term presence of the boat sheds near Davies Park, which impedes riverside access for cyclists and pedestrians along what is now a major active travel route for commuters into the CBD (it may be appropriate to spend money relocating some or all of the boat sheds and rowing clubs along the West End riverfront to other parts of the river where population density is lower and traffic congestion is less of an issue)
- Recent installation (without consultation) by the Lifestyle and Community Services team of exercise equipment under the Go Between Bridge even though many residents had hoped this space could be turned into an outdoor rock climbing wall or skate facility
- Ongoing uncertainty and disagreement between residents about the best locations for park upgrades such as basketball courts, toilet blocks etc – there are desires to use some areas of Riverside Drive as active recreation spaces and some areas as quiet, vegetated, ‘natural’ spaces, but no clarity as to whereabouts along the river these different uses should occur
- The as-yet-undelivered Victoria St City Cat terminal, which was identified in the 2011 South Brisbane Riverside Neighbourhood Plan (absence of sufficient public transport options is causing major congestion along Montague Road)
- Proposed installation of a kayak pontoon/jetty near Rogers St, which generally seems to be supported by residents but which came out of nowhere with no public consultation as to the most useful location
- The fact that Riverside Drive still remains open to vehicles between Jane St and the Go Between Bridge even though council publicly committed to closing this area off to cars several years ago
For many of these issues, there are multiple possible options and solutions which reasonable people can disagree about. The problem at the moment is that no time and money is being put into facilitating those conversations, and different parts of council are making decisions without talking to each other or to residents. The longer a masterplanning process is delayed, the harder it will become to resolve conflicting uses and contradictory decisions in the future.
An important related issue:
Council owns a number of large plots of land at the northern end of Riverside Drive near the rail bridge and Kurilpa Point Park. These sites are currently leased at very cheap rates to private companies like Parmalat, and are predominantly used for carparking, but could instead be used for green spaces, active recreation facilities or community centres. Some of these leases are coming up for renegotiation in the near future, and I suggest that these leases should be not be renewed and this land brought back into public control. It is not in the broader public interest to continue allowing this land to be rented out cheaply to private companies.
I also wish to reinforce my advice that significantly more funding should be allocated towards upgrades of Davies Park and that the money allocated in the LGIP is nowhere near sufficient to meet the needs of the rapidly growing local population as well as the many visitors from other parts of the city. I hope that in addition to new funding for a masterplan of Riverside Drive, we will see an increased allocation for Davies Park in the coming 2018/19 budget.
Councillor for the Gabba Ward
P: 3403 2165 | A: 2/63 Annerley Road, Woolloongabba
W: jonathansri.com | E: email@example.com
If this issue interests you, you might also like to read more about local infrastructure shortfalls, and the tricky question of who should get a say in the design of public spaces.