Australian consultancy group RPS said South East Queensland’s liveability is in danger of a significant decline if critical goals of the draft South East Queensland Regional Plan, including housing affordability, density and transport infrastructure, are not implemented effectively.
The group warned that key implementation measures in the draft South East Queensland Regional Plan are either missing or too simplistic to be effective, with figures reportedly revealing that average land prices per square metre in the Greater Brisbane Region have almost doubled in a decade as lot sizes shrink.
Data compiled by the HIA Economics Unit showed that since 2005, the average price per square metre for residential lots in the Greater Brisbane region has increased by 90 per cent to $509, while at the same time median lot sizes have reduced by 28 per cent to 477 square metres.
RPS Principal of Planning Cameron Hoffmann said the rising cost of land was being offset by decreasing lot sizes for detached housing in master planned communities on the city’s fringes, however there was limited scope for further reductions.
“Our population is increasing but the urban footprint has only expanded by a modest 2.5% in the draft South East Queensland Regional Plan and it relies heavily on infill development to meet the predicted growth over the next 25 years,” Mr Hoffmann said.
“We need to broaden our approach away from continued reductions in lot sizes for detached houses and actively facilitate smart solutions such as freehold terrace homes in suitable areas.
“While the draft plan advocates for these and other ‘missing middle’ housing options, it contains neither the ‘carrots nor the sticks’ to ensure that local authorities facilitate the delivery of the necessary volume of well-planned housing densities, particularly within infill areas.”
The draft plan also supports future transport services and infrastructure but lacks the clarity and direction to deal with the requirements for a predicted population increase of two million people by 2041.
With the region’s road network already struggling to cope, Mr Hoffmann said the draft plan needed clear targets for the mix of transport types being used by the community to offset the increasing demands, with these being linked to government transport infrastructure budgets.
“Most of the major growth areas on the city fringes currently lack public transport services linking to Brisbane’s CBD. While the future corridors are identified, the draft plan provides no real sense of funding or reliable timeframes for delivery of these corridors and services,” he said.
Previous regional plans have sought to prioritise public and active transport modes but the transport infrastructure budgets have typically continued to put road spending first, at the expense of public and active transport.
“Without a commitment to fund targets for public and active transport, we are facing increasing congestion on our roads and the liveability and ‘affordable living’ goals of the growth strategy in the draft regional plan are likely to fail,” he said.
While the plan’s vision touched on future technological changes, it missed an opportunity to encourage governments and the community to take advantage of the emerging ‘digital disruption’ of the transport sector, which would provide a catalyst to increasingly promote ‘shared mobility’ in urban areas in favour of private vehicle ownership.
“Digital disruption is happening quickly and a sweet spot in this disruption is the convergence of emerging technologies, such as car share services, electric vehicles and autonomous vehicle technologies,” Mr Hoffmann said.
“These combined technologies allow for mobility to be increasingly provided as a service, progressively reducing the need for private vehicle ownership and associated car parking demand.”
The key to managing congestion was shared mobility in urban areas, supported by prioritised trunk public transport services and active travel modes.
“If we actively prepare to harness the opportunities now, shared mobility can underpin dramatic improvements in the function and amenity of our cities,” he said.
Much of the responsibility for delivering the plan’s goals lies with local authorities. Mr Hoffmann said a structured framework was needed to facilitate cooperation between state and local governments and the development industry so that the goals could be achieved through local Planning Schemes, particularly with respect to infill density targets.
“The draft plan provides valid aspirations for the region, however it requires a departure from ‘business as usual’ practices and substantial engagement with the community, and between governments, to achieve the plan’s vision for our region to be a world leading model of subtropical living,” Mr Hoffman said.