Brisbane’s Future Blueprint

3 August 2018
Stafford Hopewell, Special Counsel, Brisbane

Brisbane is one of the fastest growing cities in Australia and Brisbane City Council has released Brisbane’s Future Blueprint to guide the Council’s actions in shaping the future of Brisbane. While intended to improve planning and development outcomes for the city, the Blueprint presents a number of risks and challenges and has the potential to significantly change the form and function of the city.

More than 1300 people are moving to Brisbane each month and the city is expected to accommodate an additional 386,000 residents by 2041. To help manage future growth, the Council has undertaken one of its largest ever community consultations with more than 100,000 residents participating in the development of the Blueprint.

The Blueprint is based on eight guiding principles and 40 actions to shape Brisbane’s future. The principles and actions cover a wide range of matters, ranging from Council works and improvements, Council programs and initiatives, partnerships with local communities and business, and changes to planning policy and development standards.

The eight principles are:

  • Create a city of neighbourhoods;
  • Protect and create green space;
  • Create more to see and do;
  • Protect the Brisbane backyard and our unique character;
  • Ensure best practice design that complements the character of Brisbane;
  • Empower and engage residents;
  • Get people home quicker and safer with more travel options;
  • Give people more choice when it comes to housing.

The principles are supported by 40 actions, only some of which are directly related to planning and development. Some of the key actions relevant to future urban planning and development include:

  • Opening up under-used public land for community sport and recreation;
  • Making it easier for new developments to include rooftop gardens and green open space;
  • Stopping townhouses and apartments being built in areas for single homes;
  • Ensuring that suburban development fits in with surroundings;
  • Preserving the space between homes by ensuring minimum setbacks on property boundaries;
  • Protecting character and heritage by demanding greater enforcement powers and penalties from the Queensland government;
  • Mandating best practice design that fits surroundings and meets community standards;
  • Increasing required areas for tree planting and deep landscaping in new development;
  • Stopping “cookie-cutter” townhouses by limiting repeated designs;
  • Preserving the city’s “Queenslanders” and other traditional designs;
  • Increasing car parking requirements for development in suburban areas;
  • Facilitating a wide range of housing types and sizes to cater for all Brisbane residents.

While the principles and actions are typically high level statements and lack detail as to their implementation, it is apparent that many will impose new restrictions on development and many involve imposing higher standards on new development.

Some will welcome an increased focus on design, character and sustainability; however the effect of these on future development is uncertain. Property and development industry groups, for example, have already raised concerns about the risks and potential for adverse impacts on housing supply, diversity and costs. Also, some of the principles and actions are potentially contradictory or conflicting, such as intentions to enhance housing diversity whilst preserving suburban areas or encouraging greater activity and work opportunities in suburban areas while protecting existing character.

There are several actions focused on providing new opportunities and encouraging new types of urban development (such as better use of public land and rooftops). However, there is a strong theme in many of the actions on prohibition and increased regulation and the Blueprint appears to reflect a general dissatisfaction with existing suburban development outcomes in the city. 

Key takeaway

Brisbane faces a range of planning and development challenges to manage and accommodate future growth. The Council’s Blueprint, which seeks to guide future development, presents a number of opportunities for development but also has a strong focus on greater prohibition and regulation on suburban development with associated risks and costs.

Authored by:
Stafford Hopewell, Partner

This update does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest and it is not intended to be comprehensive. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.

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