Brisbane developers Seymour Group have asked Brisbane City Council to override its planning legislation and allow them to develop a major retail and residential precinct on land zoned as industrial.
The 1.8-hectare Eagers Automotive site at 99 Breakfast Creek Road was snapped up by Seymour Group for $61 million three years ago, with Eagers set to move to the Brisbane Airport Auto Mall.
Brisbane City Council’s draft
industrial strategy, released in 2019, and its 2018 Newstead North Neighbourhood Plan designate much of northern Newstead as low-impact industrial land for high-value industry such as niche businesses.
But in his budget speech in June, Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner flagged a need to rezone some industrial land to make room for more homes as Brisbane grapples with a housing crisis.
Seymour Group lodged an application seeking to “vary the land use intent, development standards and design provisions” to allow for what could be a staged, 800-apartment master-planned residential and retail complex onsite, including a full-line supermarket. Seymour Group purchased the 99 Breakfast Creek Road site in 2019 for $61 million.(Supplied: Seymour Group)
In February, a council planning officer requested further information, saying the proposed City Plan variations sought by
Seymour Group “would lower the Category of Assessment (CoA) for a wide range of uses with few limitations and establish new development parameters on the site, including maximum building height, setbacks, and deep planting.
The officer wrote that the proposal needed to be carefully considered because, if granted, “the variation would remove the requirement for public notification on future development applications, and submitters would not have the ability to appeal decisions to the Queensland Planning and Environment Court”.
Future of industrial land Seymour Group senior director Daniel Farquhar said 99 Breakfast Creek Road offered an increasingly rare opportunity for a master-planned, mixed-use development in Brisbane.
Mr Farquhar said the group envisioned “Newstead Green” as an anchor precinct in Newstead North, citing projects like the nearby Gasworks Plaza and West Village in West End as precincts that were revitalising impacts for residents and businesses.
“I think there’s a really strong case to say that the land is not suitable for industrial [use] anymore,” Mr Farquhar said.
“It’s certainly not the highest job generator in an area like this. Then you’ve got a
housing shortage with rents rising rapidly. We can help with that by delivering apartments where people want to live.”
Mr Farquhar said
industrial land was always important, but the inner city was no longer wanted or sought-after by industrial tenants, while major announcements such as the 2032 Olympics had altered Brisbane’s landscape significantly. For and against Seymour Group’s proposal has been met with strong support from the National Retail Association, whose chief executive Dominique Lamb wrote the proposal would “cater to the needs and wants of the new Brisbane consumer.
But AMP Capital, owners of nearby shopping precinct Gasworks Plaza, objected strongly, saying it was in “direct conflict” with the City Plan 2014 and would pose an “unacceptable economic impact” on Gasworks.
“Council has undertaken their own very recent planning process … and there are serious shortcomings in the applicant’s investigations,” AMP Capital’s submission said.
Mr Farquhar said Seymour Group had consulted two separate economists who had concluded Newstead already needed more supermarkets and retail, with Gasworks Woolworths at capacity.
Some local businesses, residents and industrial land owners welcomed the shift from industry to residential and retail in their submissions on the application, citing
Newstead’s rapidly gentrifying face.
Others were concerned approving the application would undermine the City Plan 2014 and Neighbourhood Plan’s intentions opening the door for developers to request the council override its own planning legislation at will.
“What would be the point of investing so much work, time, and effort from the council to develop a City Plan if it can be amended so easily?” one submitter wrote.
Mr Farquhar said
Seymour Group had conducted several rounds of community consultation before lodging its application and had taken community feedback on board.
A council spokesperson said the application was “now a matter for council’s independent planning officers”.