South-east Queensland infrastructure funding not keeping pace with development, majors say – Michmutters

South-east Queensland infrastructure funding not keeping pace with development, majors say

The mayors of two booming south-east Queensland councils say funding for critical infrastructure to support hundreds of thousands of incoming residents is falling short of demand.

Ipswich, Logan and Moreton Bay councils on the west, south and north of Brisbane are all doing the “heavy lifting” of welcoming south-east Queensland’s booming population.

But Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding and Logan Mayor Darren Power both say they need more funding to build trunk infrastructure — roads, stormwater, public transport and community facilities — to cope with the influx of new residents expected over the coming decade.

“To me there’s an inequitable distribution of how the money is being spent,” Ms Harding said.

“We’re the fastest growing area in Queensland yet we’re not getting that corresponding funding.”

A construction site with a ute parked out the front.
Masterplanned communities are seeing rapid growth as more residents flock to Queensland.(ABC News: Elizabeth Pickering)

Mr Power said Logan was “getting the rough end of the pineapple” without any major infrastructure commitments such as new sporting facilities.

“We’re [welcoming] 10,000 people a year, Ipswich is doing 6,000 a year, Moreton is probably doing more than us, and … we’re not even getting the infrastructure,” Mr Power said.

“They’re putting all the Olympic facilities in and around the city [but] forget Logan — you’re going to do the heavy lifting, but we’re not giving you anything.”

Population on the up and up

South-east Queensland’s population is expected to grow by 2 million people to 5.3 million by 2041.

Moreton Bay’s population will rise by 210,000 to 690,000 by 2041.

Ipswich is predicted to increase from 240,000 to 520,000 people by 2041.

Logan expects to grow from 345,000 in 2021 to 500,000 in 2036.

All three councils are now developing new planning schemes as they grapple with where to house so many new residents.

Street of houses being built in Ipswich City Council area
Priority Development Areas were designed by the state government to house thousands of new residents.(ABC NewsAlice Pavlovic)

Councils are also working with the state government on a new regional plan to replace 2017’s Shaping SEQ, expected to be finalized in the next two years.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles said almost 50,000 new residential lots had been unlocked since October 2020.

“We understand that it’s not just about unlocking new lots to help with housing availability, we also need to ensure that people, goods and services can efficiently move around and that there is access to affordable housing, green space, schools and health services,” Mr Miles said.

Priority development areas

State agency Economic Development Queensland manages three 12-year-old south-east Queensland priority development areas (PDAs): Ripley Valley in Ipswich, and Greater Flagstone and Yarrabilba in Logan.

Ripley Valley is set to house 131,000 people, Flagstone 138,000, and Yarrabilba 50,000.

The newest PDA is Caboolture West in Moreton Bay, set to house another 70,000 people, with negotiations now focused on the suburb’s critical infrastructure.

Aerial photo of Caboolture West community and land
The planned Caboolture West PDA could house up to 70,000 people in Moreton Bay.(Supplied)

The state charges property developers in PDAs a per-lot infrastructure contribution.

Flagstone’s is set at about $47,000 per residential lot, of which $5,000 is a “catalyst” charge for critical infrastructure, and $1,000 for public transport.

In Ripley, the developer charge is about $35,000 per lot.

distant communities

Caboolture West and Ripley Valley are within 15 minutes’ drive of their city centers, but both Yarrabilba and Greater Flagstone PDAs are 20 to 30 kilometers south-west of Logan Central, nearly 30 minutes’ drive.

“We would never, never develop Flagstone and Yarrabilba, because it’s too far away and it’s stretching our resources,” Mr Power said.

“[EDQ is] expecting us to fill in the gaps between where the developer [contribution] ends and where Flagstone and Yarrabilba starts.”

Man wearing a light purple business shirt standing outside.
Darren Power currently serves as the Mayor of the City of Logan.(ABC News: Chris Gillette)

Mr Miles said a $150 million Catalyst Infrastructure Fund provided money to developers to “accelerate” infrastructure within PDAs.

“To date, EDQ has provided $45 million to the Ripley Valley PDA and $106 million to the Greater Flagstone PDA in catalyst infrastructure funding to assist in providing significant trunk infrastructure to facilitate development,” Mr Miles said.

Three-scheme Ipswich

For Ipswich, planning problems are three-fold.

Ipswich has two masterplanned communities — Ripley Valley, and the city of Springfield, masterplanned by a private owner to become an entire city.

Only last week, the council sent off a fast-tracked new planning scheme to Mr Miles for review, to replace its current 16-year-old scheme.

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding.
Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding says money is not being spent equitably.(ABC News: Rachel McGhee)

“That’s three planning schemes for us to work with, three different ways to interact with the state government, and developers as well,” Ms Harding said.

And while more new homes means more rates in council coffers, it will still take decades to recoup millions spent now on new roads, water and sewers.

regional funding

Ms Harding said she wanted a clear commitment that the regions facing the most growth would receive funding proportional to their needs.

“If there’s a regional plan where a council is being asked to commit to certain population growths, I would like some type of commitment for a corresponding amount of money or proportion of money spent on trunk infrastructure,” she said.

“Because it’s not happening at the moment.”

Mr Miles said the $50 million Growth Acceleration Fund would help fund critical trunk infrastructure outside of PDAs, including Caboolture West.

Steven Miles speaking.
Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles.(ABC News: Lucas Hill)

He also cited the $1.8 billion City Deal, which includes a $210 million “growth areas compact”, funding Caboolture West infrastructure, and business cases for Logan and Ipswich transport corridors to Flagstone, Yarrabilba and Springfield.

“I look forward to continuing to work with all Mayors to plan for and invest in South East Queensland’s growing future,” Mr Miles said.

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