Southeast Queensland needs a dozen mega-developments like Springfield if it is to cope with the extra 2.2 million people over the next three decades, a respected urban geographer has told Fairfax Media.
Professor Bob Stimson, Emeritus Professor in Geographical Sciences and Planning at the University of Queensland, told Fairfax Media there would be 5.5 million living between Noosa and Tweed Heads within three decades.
Professor Stimson – an analytical human geographer and regional scientist for 49 years – said Southeast Queensland could no longer rely on increasing densification with the existing area.
Professor Stimson said between “10 and 12” large master-planned communities like Springfield or North Lakes – on Brisbane’s northern-edge – would be needed for the extra 2.2 million people.
“There is no way that all of the growth that is going to occur can be accommodated through urban infill,” Professor Stimson said.
“You are still going to need greenfield growth, fringe growth,” he said.
“So the big issue for Southeast Queensland over the coming decades is that you are probably going to need 10 or 12 of those types of developments to be occurring.”
Greater Springfield is a privately-owned 2680 hectare master-planned community south of Ipswich that has around 20,000 residents in two suburbs; Springfield and Springfield Lakes.
It started around 1995 and is planned to have 80,000 residents by 2030.
Professor Stimson said “green belts” between the Gold Coast, Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast were under pressure, but he believed would be protected because of the state government’s Southeast Queensland Regional Plan.
He said there was land near Beaudesert and Ipswich and between Brisbane and the Gold Coast for residential development.
“There is plenty of land that is not prime agricultural land, that is not ecologically important land, national park or high conservation-value land that could be taken up for that sort of growth.”
On Friday Australand launched a $400 million master-planned community for 25,000 people over 25 years called The Rise at Park Ridge in the Logan City Council area.
Australand’s Queensland general manger of residential growth Cameron Leggatt said the development targeted low-cost home and land packages ($280,000) and provide 13,000 local jobs over 25 years as part of 2450-hectare project.
“With housing affordability throughout Brisbane and South East Queensland out of reach for many Australians, The Rise is keeping the dream of home ownership alive,” Mr Leggatt said.
Professor Stimson warned that jobs growth needed to accompany residential growth if it pushed further west than Ipswich.
He said jobs growth remained concentrated in the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane to Gold Coast line.
“Over the years I have been quite a critic of the Southeast Queensland planning process, which has tried to force growth into that western corridor because all the economic data demonstrates all the jobs growth is along the linear corridor that stretch to the north and south of Brisbane.”
Unemployment figures show Ipswich’s unemployment rate marginally higher in May 2015 than Brisbane’s western suburbs.
Unemployment – May 2015
Brisbane’s southside – 5 per cent
Brisbane’s inner-city – 5.5 per cent
Brisbane northside – 5.6 per cent
Gold Coast – 6.1 per cent
Brisbane West – 6.3 per cent
Moreton Bay – 6.3 per cent
Sunshine Coast – 6.8 per cent
Ipswich – 7 per cent.
However Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale said Professor Stimson appeared to be unaware of new job developments in Ipswich.
Ipswich’s labour market statistics show unemployment beginning to fall from 9 per cent to 7.4 per cent, with 2600 jobs created since March.
“We have a massive amount of industrial, commercial and retail development including the largest concentration of transport and logistics companies in Australia with DB Schenker, Northline and TNT at Redbank,” he said.
Cr Pisasale said jobs were being created at the new HOLCIM project underway at Swanbank, the new GE Electrical building at Springfield Central and with the Orion Shopping Centre doubling in size.
“RAAF Base Amberley is also continuing to expand with a workforce of more than 5000,” he said.
“Ipswich and the western corridor has a major role to play in satisfying growth in Southeast Queensland.
“We can’t continue to simply concentrate growth within Brisbane and the coastal fringe if we think we will maintain the same quality of life.”
In May 2010 former premier Anna Bligh announced plans for three mega-cities in Southeast Queensland to provide homes for 250,000 people.
Those three cities – at Ripley (near Ipswich), Yarrabilba (south of Logan) and Bromelton – about six kilometres south of Beaudesert – are all underway