Brisbane's inner-city renaissance
|Illustration: courtesy Dr Scott Baum|
|Professor Robert Stimson (School of Geography, Planning and Architecture), Associate Professor Patrick Mullins (School of Social Sciences), Dr Scott Baum (School of Geography, Planning and Architecture)|
|1999?2000 University of Queensland Foundation ($33,000)|
|Faculty of Engineering, Physical Sciences & Architecture|
After several decades of population decline, the inner suburbs are attracting people back to live, with some areas experiencing growth of more than 25 percent in the last 10 to 15 years, according to a new report by researchers at The University of Queensland.
But this growth is focused strongly on the 20-to-54-year age-groups, and in particular students, young professional workers, and middle-aged professionals.
"A major driver of inner-city transformation is the rapid growth in new economy jobs in the advanced business services, information technology, education and health that are highly concentrated in the Central Business District (CBD), nearby business districts like the Coronation Drive strip, and an arc that runs from Herston through Indooroopilly and St Lucia to South Brisbane," say Professor Bob Stimson, Dr Pat Mullins and Dr Scott Baum, who led a research team involving several final-year planning students.
"A further driving force is the attraction of the inner-city as a place of consumption oriented to the needs of the professionals and managers, plus tertiary students, who are attracted to the lifestyle provided by the inner-city."
The early phases of inner-city transformation began in the 1970s with the gentrification of localities such as Spring Hill and Paddington when middle-class professionals moved in to renovate old timber and tin workers cottages.
During the 1980s and 1990s there was a spread of gentrification more widely across the inner-city suburbs. But a new feature of this second phase has been an increasing emphasis on urban renewal projects and the redevelopment of older housing.
As a result, many inner-city areas have seen a marked change in the character of housing, away from traditional, stand-alone houses to apartments. Associated with this has been a shift away from home-ownership to private rental.
The study also points to the substantial role governments have been playing in the transformation of the inner-city.
Governments at all levels have been active in encouraging urban consolidation. This is seen in various forms, including Brisbane City Council encouraging in-fill housing development, and the master-planned redevelopment of the inner north-eastern suburbs led by the Urban Renewal Task Force.
Its redevelopment projects have included conversion of the Teneriffe Woolstores to housing and the construction of major new medium-density apartment projects.
The State Government has also been actively involved in what the report calls "urban boosterism". The last 20 years have seen mega-projects like the South Bank Arts precinct, South Bank Parklands, the Convention Centre and the Treasury Casino. Recently announced mega-projects include the Roma Street Railyard redevelopment, the City West precinct and the Lang Park super-stadium project.
Public transport has been a particular focus of planning in the inner-city, including busways, the city-to-airport raillink, the Inner City Bypass and the recently aborted light-rail project.
Over the 10 years to 1998, Brisbane's inner-city suburbs were the target of more than $1.4 billion in public sector investment in new construction. And the inner-city suburbs-including the CBD-attracted more than $2.6 billion invested from the private sector, including $1.2 billion in office-construction. More than $830 million was invested in education and health facility construction.
The research shows how Brisbane's inner-city suburbs provide about one-third of the total jobs in south-east Queensland. It is anticipated that by 2011, the CBD and the surrounding 16 suburbs will have around 255,000 jobs despite the fact that the region's inner-city based jobs will continue to decline.
The research highlights three key policy issues arising from the transformation occurring in the inner-suburbs.
First, there is a social equity issue through the displacement of lower-income households, the aged and families with young children to the outer suburbs with poorer levels of services such as public transport. Providing affordable housing for low-income groups in the inner-city will become a bigger problem as land and housing prices continue to increase at rates well above the outer suburbs.
Second, greater levels of investment in both public transport and new road systems, including a fully connected inner-city freeway loop both with connections to growth-corridor freeways, will be needed to cope with the projected increased passenger and freight traffic into and passing through the inner-city areas.
Third, more emphasis on large-scale area urban renewal planning will be needed across the inner-city if urban consolidation and renewal is to have a substantial impact stemming the rate of outer suburban growth. This will require greater public sector-led intervention. The research suggests the wider adoption of the Urban Renewal Task Force model that is having considerable success in the renewal and redevelopment of the inner north-east suburbs.
The Inner City Renaissance Report is available on CDRom from The University of Queensland Bookshop (telephone 07 3365 2438).