THE writing was on the wall for the Ipswich CBD mall in 2016.
For years foot traffic has been dwindling with many blaming paid parking, but the past six months saw a mass exodus of long-term businesses.
One by one shop owners announced they were no longer willing to struggle through in the face of even lower foot traffic and increasingly “under performing stores”.
The biggest shockwave came in October when supermarket giant Woolworths announced it would be leaving the precinct after January 1.
Now the pressure is on the council to follow through with its long awaited redevelopment plans and make 2017 the year the Ipswich mall transformed.
Since August, six long-term businesses have either closed, or announced their intention to do so, based on the lack of foot traffic.
‘Unsavoury characters’ have driven the customers away, they say, while others made a financial decision to close “underperforming stores”.
Shoppers say there’s no reason to go there anymore; even though the remaining business owners would disagree. In November, the council announced its latest plan to transform the Ipswich mall, bringing the people back into the CBD.
It’s the action business owners have been desperately wanting for almost a decade with some saying after countless “consultation” sessions and the announcement of “final plans” they’d almost given up.
“We’ve been earning just enough to cover our costs,” Sue Navie said in August.
“It’s just not worth it anymore.”
Underfashion World owner Kaylene Weier watched friends in similar situations lose their homes and “didn’t want to go through that” herself.
For some savvy business owners, the mall’s demise has been an opportunity to start something new.
Enticed by low rent, a hair and beauty salon has just moved into one of the heritage listed buildings that won’t be demolished in the redevelopment.
A refurbished furniture and homewares business owner jumped at the chance to open a store, making use of the council’s offer of free rent under the Activate Ipswich program.
Now a new bridal shop is rumoured to be moving into one of the CBD retail spaces left by a business moving out mid-January.
Meanwhile, the recently redeveloped ‘Top of Town’ is booming.
A new clothing boutique will open today next door to a fairly new home and giftwares shop which opened in October.
Further down the road is a new pizza shop which has already proven popular, a new beauty salon is a couple of doors down from that and tucked in behind the trendy Heisenberg Haus, is a coffee shop with its own Ipswich roast that opened earlier this year.
That district is likely to become more popular when construction on the new mall starts next year and parking becomes a nightmare.
The council has promised to replace the existing mall with a ‘world class’ food and entertainment precinct worth $150 million.
When unveiling the plans earlier this month, Mayor Paul Pisasale likened the redevelopment to “a phoenix rising from the ashes”.
Construction will start mid-2017 and see the existing Ipswich City Square buildings demolished, the mall opened up to the river, and one-way traffic flow down Nicholas St for the first time in 30-years.
Development Update: $67m Springfield Central Sports Complex
A $67 million sporting development in Greater Springfield, an urban growth corridor located south west of Brisbane’s metropolitan area, is on track to open this year.
The developer of Greater Springfield says it is “cementing itself as one of Australia’s super sporting meccas” with its new Springfield Central Sports Complex slated to open to the public mid-year.
The new sporting facility, which neighbours Springfield Central State High School and St Peter’s Lutheran College, also joins the recent announcement of the $70 million Brisbane Lions AFLW stadium announced in January.
Springfield’s current population sits around 41,000 with this figure predicted to triple in size by 2030.
Rewind to 1992, when Greater Springfield founder Maha Sinnathamby purchased the 7000-acre parcel of land — today’s Springfield — which no developer wanted to touch.
Sinnanthamby says the region has a growing student population.
“There are currently 11,000 students in Greater Springfield, with that number expected to grow by 1200 each year moving forward,” the Springfield Land Corporation chairman said.
The developer says Greater Springfield is Australia’s first masterplanned greenfield city since Canberra, and to date it has seen $15 billion worth of infrastructure invested.
“We have a supersized CBD and an employment target of one job for every three residents,” Sinnathamby said.
The new sporting development will feature four ovals, 16 netball courts, eight fields, eight tennis courts, an athletics track as well as clubhouses and playgrounds.
City Deal a $58bn ‘Game Changer’ for Southeast Queensland
South-east Queensland could be green-lit for the biggest “city deal” in Australia, with a $58 billion proposal to guide its growth, and the prime minister announcing his support for the major plan.
With a focus on supporting diverse sectors within the region including housing and planning, tourism, manufacturing and education, the SEQ City Deal could also pave the way for government-owned land to be opened for development.
Queensland deputy premier Jackie Trad this week released Transforming SEQ, which highlights 35 “opportunities” that could be considered as part of the future City Deal, including six “game changers” for the region.
“Modelling by KPMG has shown a SEQ City Deal could stimulate an increase of up to $58 billion in our economy by improving the productivity and competitiveness of the region,” Trad said.
Prime minister Scott Morrison will be meeting with the SEQ Mayors and Queensland government to discuss the proposal this week.
The City Deal, which involves all three levels of government — council, state and federal — would see government working on priorities to drive the SEQ economy.
Under a City Deal plan, all three levels of government sign an agreement to set the priority infrastructure projects and initiatives.
Integrated land-use planning approach?
Property Council chief executive Ken Morrison described the announcement as “a game-changer for the region.
“Our growing cities and urban regions are the engine rooms of the Australian economy,” Morrison said.
“The city deal model brings together all levels of government around the same plan to boost productivity and jobs through targeted investment in city-shaping projects and infrastructure.”
Property Council Queensland director Chris Mountford said the council has been collaborating with state government and SEQ councils for nearly six years on the potential for a city deal.
“The State and local governments have also agreed in principle to a more coordinated integrated land-use planning approach,”
“Opening up under-utilised government-owned land for development has also been agreed as a clear opportunity to unlock economic activity, create jobs and build business confidence.”
The region’s current 3.5 million population is forecast to increase to 5.3 million within the next 25 years, ultimately requiring an extra 800,000 homes and additional one million jobs.
Focus has been placed on the recently released people mass movement study which identifies the impact of the expected population growth on the region’s ability to cope with future transport demand.
Minister for Cities Alan Tudge said he, along with the prime minister, will be meeting with the SEQ Mayors to discuss the Deal.
“We need to cater for this rising population and the SEQ City Deal will be a huge step forward,” Tudge said.
South-east Queensland is already home to over two-thirds of the state’s population.
The region is home to nearly one in every seven Australians.
The agreement marks the second city deal for Queensland following the policy being first established in Townsville.
So far, city deals have been developed for Western Sydney, Townsville and Launceston, and a further four more are currently under negotiation in Adelaide, Hobart, Perth and Geelong.
$63b infrastructure plan to keep SEQ moving till 2041
It’s going to cost $63.7 billion to keep South East Queensland moving over the next two decades, according to a study released today by the region’s mayors.
The population of the region is expected to grow by about 1.8 million people to more than five million people by 2041, putting extraordinary demand on the already strained transport network.
The SEQ People Mass Movement Study lists a total of 47 projects designed to keep city-to-city trips under 45 minutes and urban commutes under 30 minutes, including a faster rail network connecting the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast via Brisbane and west to Ipswich and Toowoomba.
Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said the infrastructure plan, coined the Strategic Transport Road Map, would keep the region “economically productive” while maintaining its liveability.
“Business as normal is not going to work, we need to increase the amount of money that is being spent in South East Queensland,” Cr Quirk said.
He said the plan would require an average expenditure of about $2.7 billion per year until 2041, which he said was “not an unrealistic figure”.
“What we are seeing in Sydney and Melbourne right now is this massive spend on infrastructure. That’s because they allowed it to get too far behind. We cannot do that in South East Queensland.”
He said there had been no shortage of plans for the region’s transport network, but it was time for all levels of government to unite with a shared vision.
Redland City mayor Karen Williams said the plan delivered the projects over a “reasonable amount of time with a reasonable amount of investment”.
“It’s not a matter of ‘can we afford this?’ It’s the fact that we can’t afford not to do it,” Cr Williams said.
Faster Rail is not as fast as high speed rail, which delivers speeds up to 350km/h, but could run at about 160km/h with top speeds of up to 200-250kmh, with limited stops.
It would be connected to the light rail networks on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast in order to ease congestion on major arterials.
Other projects include the Brisbane Metro, Cross River Rail and road upgrades, including the Pacific, Sunshine, Centenary, Ipswich and Logan motorways and the Bruce, Warrego and Mt Lindesay highways.
The study also took into account emerging technologies including autonomous vehicles.
It was first proposed in 2016, and began in September 2017, with the aim of bringing together multiple local, state and national transport studies into one cohesive plan.
The South East Queensland region takes in the Brisbane City, Ipswich City, Lockyer Valley Regional, Logan City, Moreton Bay, Redland City, Scenic Rim Regional, Somerset Regional, Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba Regional council areas.