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Expanded Gabba PDA

The government in February 2023 announced a significant expansion to the Woolloongabba 'Priority Development Area'.

You can see the expanded map in vague purple here and below. The Deputy Premier has said that a finalised map won't be ready until November 2023, leaving residents and businessness in the dark in the meantime. 

What is a Priority Development Area?

‘Priority Development Areas’ are a planning tool that this government has developed to help them manage large, often controversial, development projects. You can read the government's overview here

I have been critical of Priority Development areas for the following reasons:

  • Community consultation requirements are extremely limited
  • There is limited transparency on how decisions about PDAs are made
  • Requirements for infrastructure charges (money that developers have to pay to the council to invest in crucial public infrastructure) are often much lower than usual developments
  • Once a broad ‘planning scheme’ is approved, development can occur over many years, with no additional requirements for community consultation
  • Local planning rules such as height limits can be overruled.
  • Projects are often controversial, and face community opposition (I've included a few examples below).
  • The Environmental Defenders Office have a useful fact sheet on PDAs that you can read here.

What we know about the Woolloongabba PDA at this stage

Unfortunately, we have very little information at this stage about what the government is planning for the expanded Priority Development Area. You can read the government’s press release here, and general information here. You can read the response from the Deputy Premier to my questions from 26 April 2023 here. 

What we do know so far:

  • No clarity on the boundaries of the PDA: A finalised map likely won't be ready until November 2023. Community consultation will start after that. This is ridiculous, given that the extended PDA was announced back in February. 
  • $2.7 billion Gabba redevelopment: The government plans to demolish and rebuild the Gabba at a cost of $2.7 Billion, despite signifcant community opposition. They also intend to close East Brisbane State School and force students into schools outside of the current catchment, despite strong opposition from the community. The community are pushing back against this huge waste of money - you can read more about this here
  • No clarity on the provision of parkland: In 2020, the government committed to 50% of the Gabba Cross River Rail station site being parkland. They seem to be walking back from this. The Government said that the PDA will include 50% "open space" within the Woolloongabba Cross River Rail precinct. Note that "open space" is distinct from parkland - King George Square, for example, a fully paved thoroughfare, is considered "open space". 
  • No clarity on the provision of public housing: The government have given no clear indication of how much public housing or 'affordable' housing will be included, and have no clear definition for what 'affordable' means.
  • Privitisation is still on the table: The government has given no guarantee that publicly owned land won’t be privatized. Given the devastation of the Newman Government years, where significant public buildings and public land were sold off, I feel we need a clear guarantee that public land will not be privitised. 

Ongoing issues with other PDAs

Many ‘Priority Development Area’ projects have been controversial and are facing ongoing community opposition, including:

Where to next?

We are doing our best to get more information about what is planned for the expanded Gabba PDA, and what this might mean for your home, business, church or venue. 

If you would like to be kept updated as we get more information, please sign up here

I'd also encourage anyone whose home, business or church might fall within the expanded PDA to email the Deputy Premier, and demand to know what their plans are for the Gabba area: [email protected]