Property Council police academy plan
Townsville’s police academy site at Belgian Gardens fronting Rowes Bay in Townsville has been earmarked in a review of government-owned land by the Property Council of Queensland as a prime development asset to boost tourism and revitalise the CBD.
The proposed 10,500 m2 mixed use residential and retail development is estimated to cost $11.7 million, creating 63 construction jobs and employment for 12 positions ongoing with an $8 million economic impact and add $0.7 million to annual gross regional product of the city.
The Property Council of Queensland report found six sites across Queensland including the North Queensland campus of the Queensland Police Academy.
Property Council Queensland Executive Director, Chris Mountford, has labelled the State Government’s sizable land bank as the “lowest hanging fruit for Queensland political leaders aspiring to create new jobs.”
“The Government is the largest landowner in the state with countless parcels of vacant or underutilised land that could be converted from a drain on resources to productive community assets,” Mr Mountford said.
“Opening up excess government-owned land for development will not only create an income for the State, but will unlock economic activity, create jobs and build business confidence.”
“Many neglected and crumbling sites across Queensland have major potential to become vibrant renewed community hubs.”
“What Queensland needs is the political courage to give these old sites a new lease on life.”
The Property Council’s Six Sites: Redevelopment of surplus Government Land to Stimulate the Queensland Economy report, produced by industry advisory firm and city shaping experts Urbis, has illustrated how the private sector could transform some the Government’s most neglected land parcels.
“Industry experts have taken a realistic look at what is achievable on these sites, and valued the economic and social benefits that could be attained through these outcomes,” Mr Mountford said.
“From a diversity of new housing product, to educational facilities, to new commercial and hotel developments, there is no shortage of development options that would have strong industry interest on these sites.”
“Importantly, this research is intended as a thought piece representing ideas, rather than fixed solutions. While any strategy selected for the individual sites analysed will ultimately be subject to further discussion, it is irrefutable that great opportunities are being forgone, as strategic sites across the state lay vacant or underutilised.
“These six case studies alone would create nearly 1,100 jobs during the development phase, and generate over $263 million in economic activity,” Mr Mountford said.
“Once completed, these proposals would be home to 8,000 jobs and continue to contribute nearly $1 billion annually to the state’s economy.”
“The significant potential of many locked-up sites across the state should be the source of great frustration for Queensland taxpayers.”
The Property Council of Australia, the peak body representing Queensland’s property industry, has long advocated for government to manage its landholdings more efficiently.
While all major parties contesting the election have committed to not sell income-generating State assets, the maintenance and security of surplus land represents a sizeable burden on the state’s budget.
The Labor Government’s Advancing our Cities and Regions policy, released in 2016, aimed to make better use of underutilised landholdings – but has not achieved successful outcomes to date.
“A more concerted focus is needed to work with the private sector to unlock opportunities to deliver new social and place-making outcomes, while positively stimulating economic activity,” Mr Mountford said.
“Consideration really needs to be given to a single, central agency responsible for the management of government land that removes the departmental game playing.”
“The property industry is challenging our state’s political leaders to show more imagination when it comes how to best manage state-owned land in the interest of all Queenslanders.”
Reclaiming the beachfront land at Rowes Bay for commercially productive activity would enable the police academy the opportunity to relocate to the CBD and boost economic and social activity in the struggling precinct.
The move also fits in with the strategic plan of the city, revitalising and restoring the city centre at the heart of a hierarchy of mixed use developments recommended over a decade ago, which the Labor government endorsed.
The Property Council of Queensland’s reports comes with ambiguous messaging. The peak body endorses the policy framework of the Labor government’s social housing agenda, while criticising its slow pace leveraging government-owned land for creating jobs so desperately needed in regional areas such as Townsville.
Yet after an unfavourable critique of its “no assets” sale policy, which has contributed to the blockage of Queensland’s economic growth, the competition between metropolitan and regional funding priorities this election could be a major issue for voters attitudes towards the major parties.
Of the six development sites identified across Queensland, the 13,500m2 Townsville site has moderate economic and community benefit but strong alignment with government policy and Placemaker design compared to the brisbane-based sites., the Urbis report identified.
The current President of the Property Council in Queensland and national Board Member is Townsville-based property developer, Mr Laurence Lancini who has invested heavily in the Townsville CBD.
Establishing strategic alliances with State government partnerships and consortiums including moving the regional headquarters of Ergon into the CBD and selling his company’s Domain Central property to the State government-owned Queensland Investment Corporation in 2015.
Townsville has an oversupply of residential units which has contributed to the steady decline of prices in the real estate and rental market.
The Property Council of Queensland has recommended further supply be developed across the state to stimulate employment and manage housing affordability.
Free Subscription Offer
Click on image above to Join TREN
How to stay up-to-date
Do you have an opinion about the property development in Townsville?
The TREN community wants to hear your story.
Become a subscriber to TREN eMagazine and be the first to receive local breaking stories, analysis and opinions on the Townsville real estate market.