Night­mare sprawl is upon us, says ex­pert


UR­BAN ex­pert Peter Spear­ritt says his “night­mare’’ vi­sion of 200km of sprawl swal­low­ing the Sun­shine Coast, Bris­bane and the Gold Coast has be­come a re­al­ity.

“Re­gret­tably, the 200km city has hap­pened,” he said, de­scrib­ing south­east Queens­land as “now one gi­ant me­trop­o­lis.”

The emer­i­tus pro­fes­sor and for­mer pres­i­dent of the Bris­bane In­sti­tute think-tank, first raised warn­ings in a se­ries of ar­ti­cles in The Courier-Mail 15 years ago.

He says the south­east cor­ner is now so busy copy­ing the south­ern states that we are sac­ri­fic­ing the fea­tures which give the re­gion its unique live­abil­ity.

“The prop­erty in­dus­try loves to tell us that Bris­bane is be­com­ing trendier than Syd­ney and Mel­bourne,” Prof Spear­ritt says in an opin­ion piece for couri­er­

“But why would Bris­bane want to ape ei­ther of those cities, which them­selves are now con­fronted by mas­sive traf­fic prob­lems, high house prices and rents, forc­ing many work­ers to live scores of kilo­me­tres from their work­places.”

Prof Spear­ritt says bil­lions of dol­lars have, and are, be­ing spent on widen­ing the M1 and Bruce High­way, en­abling “unchecked de­vel­op­ment’’ to fol­low with­out even the nat­u­ral breaks en­abled by huge na­tional parks be­tween Syd­ney and New­cas­tle and Wol­lon­gong.

Cross River rail was wel­come but new pub­lic trans­port in­vest­ment had been modest and paled in com­par­i­son to road spend­ing.

“What made south­east Queens­land unique in the Aus­tralian set­ting was its sub­trop­i­cal ar­chi­tec­ture in the in­ner sub­urbs. That is now un­der threat as never be­fore,” he said. THE over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of peo­ple are happy with life in south­east Queens­land – and most of them ex­pect it to get even bet­ter over the next 25 years.

An ex­clu­sive poll, com­mis­sioned by The Courier-Mail, shows eight in 10 res­i­dents rate the qual­ity of life as good or very good.

That sat­is­fac­tion is evenly spread across the re­gion, with the Gold Coast slightly higher at 83 per cent and Toowoomba a lit­tle less at 72 per cent.

Look­ing for­ward, 42 per cent of south­east Queens­land res­i­dents believe the over­all qual­ity of life will im­prove over the next 25 years – strongly out­num­ber­ing the quar­ter who feel it will de­te­ri­o­rate.

Bris­bane res­i­dents are the most up­beat about the fu­ture, and peo­ple on the Sun­shine Coast the least pos­i­tive.

Mil­len­ni­als are the most op­ti­mistic, with 56 per cent ex­pect­ing things to get bet­ter, com­pared with just 35 per cent of Gen­er­a­tion X and one in four Baby Boomers.

The YouGov Gal­axy sur­vey of 1659 re­spon­dents was con­ducted as part of The Courier-Mail’s Fu­ture SEQ se­ries, which is ex­am­in­ing the op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges fac­ing the re­gion be­tween now and 2043 ahead of de­vel-

Fu­ture con­ges­tion Over­crowd­ing Ac­cess to qual­ity en­ter­tain­ment, arts & cul­ture

op­ing an ac­tion plan of ideas.

The se­ries will cul­mi­nate in a ma­jor event ad­dressed by lead­ing de­mog­ra­pher Bernard Salt and in­fra­struc­ture lead­ers on Oc­to­ber 23.

The re­search high­lights wor­ries among peo­ple over some is­sues as the re­gion’s pop­u­la­tion grows by an ex­pected two mil­lion in 25 years, YouGov Gal­axy manag­ing di­rec­tor David Briggs said.

“Very few ex­pect to see an im­prove­ment in con­ges­tion or over­crowd­ing,” he said.

Two-thirds believe traf­fic grid­lock on the roads will con­tinue to worsen, ris­ing to three-quar­ters on the Gold and Sun­shine coasts.

Those ar­eas are also the most con­cerned about greater over­crowd­ing from hous­ing den­sity.

More than 70 per cent of Coast dwellers fear it will worsen, com­pared to 61 per cent in Bris­bane and 58 per cent in Toowoomba.

Peo­ple have mixed feel­ings about the fu­ture per­for­mance of the pub­lic trans­port sys­tem, with 36 per cent hope­ful of im­prove­ment, 30 per cent ex­pect­ing no change and 28 per cent an­tic­i­pat­ing it will de­te­ri­o­rate.

The bulk of re­spon­dents, 45 per cent, think the south­east cor­ner’s econ­omy will track along at about the same level as now, with 29 per cent an­tic­i­pat­ing some lift and just one in five think­ing it will be poorer.

Gold Coast and Toowoomba res­i­dents were the most op­ti­mistic about the econ­omy.

And nearly half of peo­ple think ac­cess to qual­ity en­ter­tain­ment, arts and cul­ture events will im­prove go­ing for­ward, build­ing on the suc­cess of Bris­bane’s cul­tural precinct and the Gold Coast’s HOTA zone in re­cent times.

Bris­bane Lord Mayor

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