Big issue looming for March election


WHEN most people think of the work of our state's councils, their minds often drift to "the three Rs" - rates, roads and rubbish.

But as many in local government know, they do a whole lot more than that.

They maintain our much-loved parks and ensure our important local infrastructure is up to scratch.

One of their biggest and most important jobs, though, is monitoring the growth of the city and planning for its future.

City planning is not an easy job for any council, especially for our biggest local government areas that are facing massive increases in their populations as more and more people move to the Sunshine State.

In Brisbane alone, there are currently more than 1300 people moving to the city every week - or about an extra 67,600 residents a year.

All of these extra people have to live somewhere, and it is largely up to our local councils to ensure we have the housing stock to accommodate them.

In Brisbane, the target to keep up with this demand is an extra 188,200 dwellings by 2041 - something that the council is well and truly on track to achieve.

But with all this additional growth comes another challenge for the council - protecting the city's heritage and ensuring our suburbs don't become overdeveloped.

Many residents in the suburbs probably do not want an apartment to spring up in their next door neighbour's yard.

They probably do not want their local streets to be parked out with an influx of cars and to be inundated with extra traffic.

They probably don't want multiple blocks of nearby land to be swallowed up for the development of townhouses in areas that are supposed to be zoned for single homes.

It was recently revealed that more than 90 per cent of the more than 2700 subdivision applications received by Brisbane City Council since 2016 were given the green light.

About 84 per cent of these approved applications were on residential land, and the top 10 suburbs with the most subdivision applications were all on the southside. This included several suburbs on the outskirts of the city, including Pallara and Rochedale, as well as others closer to the inner-city such as Morningside and Coorparoo.

Some will probably say subdivisions are a sign of the times as our city grows and our suburbs try to accommodate more people.

Others will probably lament that it means the end of big, spacious backyards that so many of us grew up with.

It is a tricky balancing act that has clearly being weighing on the mind of the LNP council administration in Brisbane, which in the past two years has embarked on new reforms.

Some of their critics say these changes have come too late.

It includes a construction ban on townhouses and apartments in single home neighbourhoods.

About 40ha of land will also be rezoned to low density to make it harder for commercial developers to use.

And at least two dozen more pre-1911 homes are expected to be added to the City Plan in a bid to further protect the city's character and heritage.

City planning should be a big issue at the looming March council election.

It is something that people care about, and if the administration's recent efforts are anything to go by, it's an issue that they believe is important to voters as well.

Labor's lord mayoral candidate Patrick Condren has vowed to get rid of the neighbourhood planning policy and to prevent developers from bulldozing through local plans.

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner will likely point to his administration's recent efforts, including the development of Brisbane's Future Blueprint, to make his case that the LNP is better equipped to deal with city planning.

Ultimately though, it will be up to the voters to decide if the current administration has done enough to maintain the balancing act of growing the city as well as protecting its heritage.

"The three Rs" of council are definitely important.

But many more issues are likely to determine the outcome of this election, and the handling of city planning will be towards the top of the list.

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