Stalled Development at Toowong Site Sparks Community Debate

23 High St Toowong
Photo Credit: CrPennyWolff/Facebook

A once-promising redevelopment project in Toowong has become the centre of community and council discussions following years of inaction and controversy. 

The site at 23 High St, once the home of a Woolworths store and was earmarked for transformation into a vibrant hub with various amenities, remains undeveloped, causing widespread discontent among residents.

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Originally slated to feature a mix of retail, office spaces, and green areas, the project, dubbed the Aviary, has been marred by delays and cancellations. 

Concerns have been raised about the Brisbane City Council’s decisions regarding the development, including the waiver of green space requirements and alleged breaches of development application (DA) conditions.

A History of Disappointment

“We’ve been waiting to see whether the new owners lodge a DA, but we just learned they’re apparently asking Council for a licence to keep stalling – and have potentially been breaching their DA conditions for years,” Greens MP Michael Berkman said

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“It turns out that a very minor condition that Council imposed on the developers, to cover the site with grass within 3 months of demolition, was too much for them to comply with. They’ve now lodged a change application that effectively allows them to ignore this requirement and keep the site as they see fit indefinitely.

“Council already ditched the plans for a park at this site from their long-term infrastructure plan, waived the requirement for the developer to deliver greenspace nearby, and have apparently let the owners sit in breach for years.”

Response and Engagement

In response to the growing frustration, a local council member emphasised the city’s commitment to dialogues with the new site owners, who acquired the property three months ago. 

“The new owner has only recently taken over the property 3 months ago and was not responsible for what occurred on site before this,” Cr Penny Wolff responded.

“Council has outlined their concerns regarding their non-compliance with the conditions of their approval in terms of the site condition and fencing.

“In late December 2023, the new owner made an application to Council to change that condition of their approval and that is currently being assessed by Council.

“The new owner wants to genuinely engage and shares the need to make the site look even better and useful while design/development plans are being completed.” 

Residents may check DA A006427990 for the details.  

23 High St Toowong
Photo Credit: DA A006427990

Future Visions

Meanwhile, the debate has also attracted attention from urban planning experts and residents, who have expressed mixed feelings about the development’s direction.

DA A006427990
Photo Credit: DA A006427990

Some applaud the vision for revitalising Toowong but criticise the plan’s emphasis on parking facilities over more sustainable transportation options. Others, including local businesses, argue that the development could provide much-needed retail and public spaces, potentially boosting the local economy and community life.

As discussions continue, the future of the Toowong site hangs in the balance, with calls for a development approach that aligns with community values, environmental considerations, and the suburb’s overall needs. The council’s next steps and the developer’s plans remain keenly anticipated by those invested in the suburb’s development trajectory.

Published 2-Feb-2024