Decades of growth if we get it right
SINCE 2002, there have been 13 different economic plans for Townsville’s CBD.
With commercial vacancy rates sitting at about 27 per cent, these plans have arguably borne little success.
The plan for the Townsville Waterfront Priority Development Area needs to be different.
First, this plan cannot be prescriptive. Apart from the stadium and convention centre, an arts precinct and public infrastructure such as boardwalks, all development in this area will be dictated by private sector demand.
Land uses are becoming increasingly fluid. This means a bureaucrat in Brisbane shouldn’t have the final say on the location of hotels or apartment complexes if the developers who are going to pay for them would prefer the developments elsewhere.
Second, because the project covers a diverse area of creek bank covering 97ha, there should be sufficient opportunity for small, medium and large developers across the seven designated precincts. The onestop shop for approvals will hopefully increase investment certainty in the area and massively cut approval times.
There does need to be some level of oversight to ensure developments are occurring in a strategic manner. Planning can’t be populist and piecemeal.
The creation of a joint ownership entity between the three major landowners – the State Government, Townsville City Council and Port of Townsville – will help address this. This ownership entity will likely follow the model adopted in the two priority development areas in Redlands.
Where they have the power to do so, the State Government and council should ensure we do not have a repeat of the Nelly Bay Ferry Terminal, where the big- city architectural design bore no relation to its tropical surroundings.
Just like The Strand, this has the makings of a visionary project which could set our city up for decades.