Proposed Wacol development should be welcomed

Wacol, on the western outskirts of Brisbane City, has not had a salubrious history.  Its name derives from a weighbridge which weighed coal at the railway station – “weigh coal” became Wacol.  Today it is best known for its prison, and there is a local joke that drivers taking the rat run down Wacol Station Road are well advised to look out for kangaroos and escaped prisoners (which have included postcard bandit Brenden Abbott).

With this history, it is great news that Wacol’s prospects for economic development are looking up.  The Queensland Times reports (Wacol development given new hope):

A CONTENTIOUS $1.5 billion commercial development at Wacol has been given new hope.

A lengthy legal saga over the proposed Metroplex on Westgate development resulted in the Court of Appeal yesterday overturning the decision of the Planning and Environment Court (PEC) last November to refuse the application.

The developer Metroplex took Brisbane City Council to court in 2007 over its failure to approve the development at the former Wacol Army Barracks.

When Metroplex unveiled its $1.5 billion master plan, its vision was for industrial facilities, warehouses, 98,000 square metres of office space and retail outlets.

Metroplex said up to 7000 construction jobs would be created, with 15,000 ongoing jobs.

However the plan was vigorously opposed by Ipswich City Council, Springfield Land Corporation and nearby major shopping centres.

They argued it would draw people away from 10 other major centres in the region and exacerbate traffic problems on the Ipswich Motorway.

Ipswich City Council planning boss Paul Tully said the development would destroy the town centres of Goodna, Redbank and Springfield.

Well it’s not surprising that local shopping centres have opposed the development as it directly competes with them and will keep a lid on their rents.  Less clear is why Ipswich City Council is opposing it.  A new development at Wacol could force other regional shopping centres to spruce up their centres and give people a reason to shop at them.

It would also undoubtedly provide many retail jobs for local Ipswich residents, especially teenagers, as Wacol is only a short train ride from Gailes, Goodna, Redbank, and other eastern Ipswich suburbs.  Furthermore a large shopping precinct at Wacol may attract many people who would otherwise go to Indooroopilly Shoppingtown, where there is a lower likelihood of positive economic flow-ons to the Ipswich region than at Wacol.

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