Queensland planning minister and deputy premier Jackie Trad has called in a controversial $800 million development in Brisbane’s West End, which had received the go-ahead from council but caused anger amongst residents. But while community activists are clocking it up as a win, the development industry is less than impressed.
The decision means that Ms Trad will reassess and decide Sekisui House’s West Village development application, which includes plans for 1350 residential dwellings and 18,500 square metres of retail and commercial uses, on its merits.
In announcing her decision to call in the development, Ms Trad said it was “imperative we get the planning right” for such a large mixed-use development.
“I will reassess the development to ensure the right balance is achieved for the economy, the environment and the local community, within the statutory framework,” she said.
“The proposed development involves state interests relating to the economy, environment, housing supply and diversity, liveable communities, the South East Queensland Regional Plan and ensuring that there is an efficient, effective and accountable planning and development assessment system.”
The announcement of the call-in generated over 700 representations, most of which supported the call-in.
Greens councillor for the Gabba Jonathan Sri had lobbied Ms Trad to call in the project, stating it had inadequate open space, and a lack of affordable housing, small business spaces and community facilities.
“It is important for all parties to understand the call in process does not mean we start with a blank slate, it is a process whereby the proposed development is reassessed against all relevant planning instruments, including Brisbane City Council’s neighbourhood plan,” Ms Trad said.
“As I have demonstrated in previous call in deliberations, my reassessment of this major project will be based solely on planning merit.”
One body that hasn’t supported the call-in is the Property Council.
PCA Queensland executive director Chris Mountford said the call-in was an overreach of Ms Trad’s powers.
“As we have stated many times, call-in powers need to be used extremely judiciously by the relevant minister,” he said. “From the industry’s perspective, they should be considered an avenue of last resort, to be used when a stalemate or roadblock is preventing a council and developer reaching agreement. This is not the case in this instance.”
He said the call in could damage industry confidence.
According to Ms Trad, however, this is just the third time she has used her call-in powers, while there are around 20,000 development applications processed a year. The other call-ins have been similar mixed-use precincts.
Ms Trad’s decision on the called in development application is due in late 2016.