‘Bolt’ infrastructure spending to population growth, SEQ mayors urge

Three of south-east Queensland’s fastest-growing councils have demanded the state government “bolt” infrastructure spending to population growth trends.

Logan, Ipswich and Moreton Bay councils told a Property Council of Queensland forum on Tuesday that infrastructure plans must reflect new population growth patterns in the south-east.

Brisbane Times reported last week that population growth had been underestimated in the Moreton Bay region for 15 years and overestimated in Ipswich, as a new South East Queensland Regional Plan is developed.

Planner Greg Chemello, who worked with Economic Development Queensland before being appointed interim administrator of Ipswich in August 2018, then chief executive of Moreton Bay Regional Council from 2020, said funding change is needed urgently.

“The key is to hard-wire an infrastructure plan into the [SEQ] regional plan,” Chemello said.

“Ever since planning has been done in south-east Queensland, it has been separate to the transport planning … and that is not going to work.

“The key for proper land-use planning is proper infrastructure planning.

“People will live where they want to live. That’s great, but we need to keep the investment up to those decisions, and the way to do it is to hard-wire it in.

“The state government needs to tie itself into its land-use plan with its infrastructure spend.”

Deputy Premier Steven Miles last year called for an urgent redraw of the existing South East Queensland Regional Plan.

Chemello, who has 40 years’ experience in government and private sector planning, said government intentions to link infrastructure and regional planning “never really happened”.

“There is no direct link between the Department of Transport and Main Roads’ four-year infrastructure plan and the regional planning,” he said. “And that’s a problem.

“But the bigger problem is there is no link between the Department of Transport and Main Roads’ planning and the 20-year [population] predictions.”

A senior source confirmed the South East Queensland Regional Plan now being developed included mechanisms to update population growth data from councils “far more frequently”.

Logan Mayor Darren Power said his council added 4000 new residential lots last year and included two high-profile Priority Development Areas – Flagstone and Yarrabilba.

Mayors Darren Power (Logan), Peter Flannery (Moreton Bay), and Teresa Harding (Ipswich) at the Property Council of Queensland forum on Tuesday.CREDIT:TONY MOORE

He said while the state government’s “mantra” was to provide affordable housing, “the issue is someone needs to pay [subsidise] for that”.

“It can’t drain council’s purses to provide that affordable housing,” Power said.

“That is where the fight starts for us, because greenfield development – starting from nothing – is the most expensive form of development for councils.”

Moreton Bay Council Mayor Peter Flannery, who has been questioning infrastructure funding for 12 months, said the state government’s top-down approach was flawed.

“We know what we need to deliver; we need the assistance of the state to do that,” Flannery said.

He agreed infrastructure funds should mirror population growth, not follow a decade afterwards.

“We would particularly like the infrastructure plan to be bolted to the South East Queensland Regional Plan, wholeheartedly,” he said.

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said despite overseeing the fastest-growing council area “percentage-wise”, her region’s transport infrastructure funding dropped 6 per cent in 2021-22.

“My question to the state government is exactly the same as it was in 2020: How can I deliver on that growth when I don’t have a funded State Infrastructure Plan?”

Queensland’s last State Infrastructure Plan was released in 2016, however a more strategic State Infrastructure Strategy was released last year.

Seven regional infrastructure plans are now being prepared. The one for south-east Queensland will be ready next year.

Article source: Queensland Property Investor