At the Brisbane International Tennis tournament the other day, my friends and I were confronted with very high prices, such as $9.50 for a Corona and $7 for a fruit salad. In part, the high prices reflect the local monopoly that food vendors have at the Tennis Centre due to poor planning.
Unfortunately, the redevelopment of the old Tennyson power station site, into a precinct containing the Queensland Tennis Centre, residential apartments, and a public park by the river, failed to make good use of this prime riverfront site. There is only one café in the precinct, Buzz Café, which could offer competition to food and drink vendors at the Tennis Centre.
But the riverfront site is superb, and the opportunity was missed to allow commercial development right on the river, particularly cafes and restaurants, which would have provided jobs and incomes, as well as alternative food and drink options for people visiting the precinct. This could have been done while still providing an area for children to play.
Sure, one objection might be that we shouldn’t develop so close to the river due to the risk of flooding, but floods aren’t really that frequent, only once every generation or so, and businesses should be able to decide for themselves whether they can absorb the risk and higher insurance premiums.
The Tennyson power station re-development appears representative of a major failing of town planning in Brisbane – there is very little development on the river for a river city. We need to make better use of the Tennis Centre precinct site. Right now the community isn’t getting the highest value it could out of the site.
There is a similar failure to properly develop prime recreational areas in local government areas throughout Queensland, particularly those with popular beaches. The development of restaurants and cafes with water views is very rare in Queensland, even though we have many beautiful beaches. For example, at Mooloolaba, the car park is on the edge of the beach and the restaurants are so far back you cannot see the beach. Cars don’t need a view of the water, but people appreciate one.
Councils consistently state they want to know how to generate economic activity and jobs in their areas. A good start for many would be to allow greater development of areas that provide views of the water.
Acknowledgment: Credit to Brad Rogers for the initial idea behind this post and several of the points made in it.