The struggle for the heart of West End


Councillor Jonathon Sri

Councillor Jonathon Sri

The battle over the future of West End reached a critical point when Jackie Trad, acting in her capacity as the Minister for Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, invited community members to make submissions about a proposed call-in notice to reassess and re-decide, West Village, the controversial Absoe development application in West End.

Its advertising describes West Village as’an iconic new global neighbourhood. Coming soon to West End, Brisbane.’ It promises ‘a sensational new retail and living precinct, with the ability to transform its location’.

Approval for this $860 million development, consisting of over 1350 apartments in seven 15-storey towers, was issued by Brisbane City Council in May 2016.

The proposal has become the focus for protest from the West End community because of concerns over the scale of the development, traffic impacts, and the wide-spread feeling that a mega-development such as this was wildly out of character for West End. The seven towers were culturally inappropriate .

Minister Trad said that as Planning Minister she was bound to consider a development application on planning merits. Her letter to the community emphasised that any proposed call-in was not an automatic refusal.

Shadow planning minister Ian Walker said Ms Trad had an “obvious conflict of interest” with the development set in the middle of her rapidly greening electorate.

Lord Mayor Quirk claimed residents would be disempowered because council’s decision was subject to planning laws under which local residents had appeal rights, but a ministerial call-in would remove those rights.

Gabba councillor, Jonathon Sri, congratulated Minister Trad for investigating calling in the West Village development, and urged her to think long-term about developing the site to include affordable housing, community infrastructure, a public park and specially-designated commercial space for small businesses and artists.

He said the 2.6 hectare Absoe site represented a rare, golden opportunity to deliver services and housing styles, currently in short supply within the inner-city.

“It’s entirely possible to deliver a diverse range of affordable higher-density housing options without cramming in seven fifteen-story towers of over-priced private apartments. We can transform this site into a vibrant cultural hub that benefits residents and local businesses.”

On Sunday, August 21, South Brisbane residents again took to the streets to show their support for calling in the West Village development.

They gathered for a community breakfast in Thomas Street Park before marching down Boundary Street to the Absoe site for a ‘creative occupation’ to launch an Alternative Vision for West Village.

Councillor Sri said he would like to see the State government include around seventy apartments as government-owned public housing and another seventy apartments as community housing, mixed in with the hundreds of privately-owned apartments.

By keeping the West Village issue central, Jonathon Sri and the Right to the City campaign deserve to be commended for  defending residents’ rights to chose their West End. Will Deputy Premier  Trad call in the development but only require the developer to make minor changes or will she  insist on a significant redesign?

For Jackie Trad, this is her defining choice.



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