Boggo Road Boulevard

We’ve previously written about our concerns regarding plans to turn the boulevard through the Boggo Road precinct (between the CSIRO Ecosciences building and the old Boggo Road Gaol) at Dutton Park into a car park, through-road, and retail strip.

On Tuesday this week, Lucy from the community group Boggo Road Futures spoke on ABC Brisbane radio about the importance of keeping this central boulevard free from cars.

The developer, Mark Stockwell spoke on the radio immediately afterwards, and claimed that this was not the plan; that there was to be a 4.5m clear space through the site, which was a similar width to what’s there now. He also said that he had spoken with residents groups, and with the local member for South Brisbane, Jackie Trad MP.

You can listen to the radio segment here, starting at about 24:45.

We’ve double checked the plans which are available from Council’s online planning system. The application clearly shows plans for a carpark on the site of the current tree-lined boulevard, and only a 3.5m “footpath” between the retail shop fronts and the carpark, which would also double as an out-door dining area. Mr Stockwell’s claim that the current walkway – including the trees either side – is only 4.5m doesn’t check out either.

Something else we find strange is that the land in question currently belongs to the Queensland Government. The landowners consent document lodged with the DA reveals that:

“the State has entered into an agreement with Boggo Road Project Pty LTD (BRP), which provides for the purchase and development of the side by BRP, subject to certain conditions being satisfied (including obtaining a Development Approval from the relevant Authority).”

It acknowledges that

“Stockwell Development Group Pty Ltd, a an agent of BRP, intends to lodge a development application to Brisbane City Council on behalf of BRP… for the purpose of a proposed retail / commercial development.”

So, the State Government is the landowner. Why not make one of the “certain conditions” of the sale of this parcel of public land be that the current pedestrian boulevard not be turned into a carpark?? Make it a condition that this 11.5m easement be maintained as a vital active transport link to the new and existing public transport stations, and to the new and existing schools?

Why is it left to residents and community groups to have to argue that publicly owned land on vital links like this shouldn’t be sold off to developers to build car-parks or take over for other commercial purposes??

We’ve seen similar scenarios play out at Queens Wharf, Howard Smith Wharves, and regarding land adjacent to the Lutwyche Bus Station, Buranda Station and Albion Station.

So what role does Brisbane City Council have to play in this? They assess the development application against the requirements of the Brisbane City Plan. The advice Council provided to the developer in relation to pedestrian and cycle links following the pre-lodgement meeting is included below. (You can read the document here).

While it’s good Council officers apparently insisted that simply expecting kids to ride to school along busy Annerley Rd and Boggo Road wasn’t acceptable (and that people would most likely just ride through the carpark anyway), it’s disappointing that they seem to suggest the 3.5m footpath between the carpark and retail precinct in combination with an indirect cycling detour would be an acceptable outcome.

Why not simply insist on keeping the current tree-lined boulevard, and not turning this valuable inner-city space into a car park??

As we’ve said previously, we have no issue with including retail and commercial development in a space like this, but given the proximity to the CBD, and to excellent public transport services, we think that including a new carpark doesn’t make sense. Any business which looks to establish in this precinct with a business model that depends on people driving there and parking out the front is looking in the wrong place.

If you’d like to learn more, and meet some of the people trying to achieve a better outcome for the neighbourhood, the Boggo Road Futures community group are holding a “Play Date” event on site on Thursday, 29 October from 3-4pm. See their Facebook event for more details.