The controversial $800 million West Village development in inner-city Brisbane has got the go-ahead, after being called in by planning minister Jackie Trad, however new conditions accompany the approval, including an increase in green space and the requirement to get a 5 Star Green Star rating.

The planning minister was put under pressure to call-in the development by local residents and the Greens, who saw the scale of the mixed-use development as inappropriate, and which also failed to include affordable housing, adequate open space and community facilities.

In announcing the approval of the development, Ms Trad said, “This is a significant urban renewal project that will create thousands of jobs and it was vitally important that we got the planning right.

“I received more than 700 submissions from the community and stakeholders during the proposed call in period, with the majority supporting a call in and desiring a better urban design outcome.”

She said the conditions placed on the site would enable the 2.6 hectare site to become “a world class urban renewal project”.

Key to this has been the reduction of overall site coverage from 95 per cent to 80 per cent, which has allowed a doubling of publicly accessible green space, with 30 per cent of the site to be designated as 24-hour publicly accessible open space, laneways and arcades.

The number of apartments has also been reduced from 1350 to 1250, though building height has been increased from 15 storeys to 22 storeys.

Other key conditions include:

  • the retention and re-use of two local heritage buildings and prohibiting construction of additional residential on top of heritage buildings
  • seven buildings above the podium, ranging from 8 to 22 storeys in height – with an improved design outcome achieved through the transition of building heights across the site
  • safe and accessible pedestrian and cyclist linkages through the site
  • an internal private street providing access to the development and providing pedestrian and cyclist access between Mollison Street and Little Jane Street
  • the provision of community uses including a childcare centre and public art space
  • the requirement for development to achieve a 5 star green rating
  • fewer car parking spaces and the provision of a car share scheme and electric parking stations

“West Village will help set the new benchmark for urban renewal developments in Brisbane and ensure they are set to the standards of a world class city,” Ms Trad said.

Greens not so enthusiastic

Brisbane City Councillor Jonathan Sri, who had been pushing for the call-in, said while the reduction in site coverage to 80 per cent was a positive outcome, there was no justification in raising building heights to 22 storeys, which went against a neighbourhood plan maximum of 15 storeys.

He also labelled the other conditions as “tokenistic and insufficient” for a development of such scale.

“For a mega-project of this scale, the community would reasonably expect far more from the developer in terms of community space and public infrastructure,” he said.

“In short, although the state government has sought in the media to frame this approval has a compromise, in truth, it looks more like a gift to the developer.”

He also said it was disappointing that no affordable housing had been included on the site.

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  1. The project is a textbook example of the failure of the Brisbane City Council (BCC) planning system and a failure of the State Government to hold the Council to its own rules.

    The originally approved plans utterly disregarded the local planning scheme and the State government’s call in and review have provided a windfall gain to the developer (taller buildings with better city view, less car parking to provide) for a negligible benefit to the community (token community spaces which account for less than 2% of the overall floor area)