Without a doubt, new developments are needed to service a rapidly growing population. However, if governments and councils aren’t prepared for this growth, the consequences can be catastrophic.

By Liam Rowe, 2017 Youth Member for Pine Rivers

With a controversial development proposed in a suburb, Warner, of my electorate, it is obvious that there has been a lack of forward infrastructure planning. The Moreton Bay Regional Council proposes to develop a semi-rural area into high-density housing, with 3,632 lots and buildings up to four stories high, however without any consideration of sustainability and local impacts.

Warner investigation
Development: Warner investigation area map

This development would add approximately 9,800 people to the area. Traffic is already bad enough, and if the development goes ahead, it’ll add approximately 6,000 cars into our crippled road network.

traffic, old north
Growing burden: traffic on Old North Road, Warner

Another issue with the development is parking facilities at nearby train stations. Indeed, the near-400 bay carpark at Strathpine station is already at capacity, and there are no plans for an concurrent upgrade. With the aforementioned additional vehicles on the road, the park and ride facilities simply will not cope with the increased demand.

straphine capacity
At capacity: Strathpine station park and ride

Without a doubt, if the development goes ahead it will cause a great deal of pain for residents in the area – whether it be horrible traffic congestion, or an inability to park at train stations.

There is a key concept that councils and the Queensland Government must to consider to begin alleviating the transport crisis. Transit-oriented developments (TOD) are a type of urban development that is within walking distance to decent public transport.

Basically, TOD involves a central transit hub, such as a bus interchange, train station, light rail station or busway station, which is surrounded by high-density development. This development is often mixed use, and lower density development further away from the main transit hub is another key feature. The high-density areas of a TOD are within 800 metres of the main transit hub, a distance usually considered an appropriate walking distance for pedestrians.

TOD general
The theory: a transit-oriented development diagram

TOD allows people to leave their cars at home, and walk to the transit hub to catch public transport to work, resulting in less cars on the roads, thereby relieving pressure on the road network.

In my previous blog, The looming transport crisis, I mentioned the city of Curitiba in Brazil, and its bus rapid transit system (BRT). The system incorporates TOD, with high-density development only along the BRT corridors – the further away from the corridors, the less dense the development becomes.

TOD Brazil
TOD in action: a top-down view of Curitiba, Brazil

TOD has also been implemented in other cities across the globe, including Paris, Stedenbann in the Netherlands, Hong Kong, San Francisco, and many Canadian cities, including Vancouver and Toronto.

The best example of transit-oriented development, in Brisbane, is in Chermside. There has been development around the bus interchange, which provides access to frequent bus services towards the CBD.

High density - chermside
High density building: an example of transit-oriented development in Chermside, Brisbane

To return to the proposed Warner development: it is nowhere near a major transit hub. In fact, the walking distance would be up to 5 kilometres to Strathpine station, much further than the recommended 400-800 metres for a TOD. It is unsustainable to develop land into high density housing, in an area with little or no public transport, and it must not be allowed.