Petition Launched to Buy Back Old ABC Site for New Toowong Riverside Park

A petition seeking to buy back the old ABC site on Coronation Drive and turn it into a public park is gaining numbers following news that Sunland Group plans to sell the 1.5-hectare site. Local Greens MP Michael Berkman, who has been seeking to build a public park in the abandoned property for years, launched the petition and renewed his calls for the Government to give Toowong its green space. 

Sunland Group bought the old ABC site in 2013, years after it has been sitting idle. However, its development plans failed to take off after a back and forth in court until the Supreme Court rejected its three-tower proposal in 2018. 

“This 15,000m2 riverfront site should never have been privatised by the former federal Labor government. It has sat empty and derelict for almost 15 years, and now the private developer owner Sunland is putting the site up for sale,” Mr Berkman wrote in his petition, which has since logged nearly 1,500 signatures within 24 hours. “This beautiful riverfront land should be a publicly owned community space, with things we can all enjoy like a park, a public pool, gardens, a community centre and more.”  

“This is a golden opportunity: the developer is clearly trying to offload this land during the COVID-19 downturn, so the government could either buy it for a good price now or let it sit empty for years while the new owner waits for better market conditions,” Mr Berkman said in a statement. “Right now this land is sitting vacant and derelict while locals cry out for more public green space to offset growth, with a major 25-story development planned for the former Woolworths site up the road, and the Toowong-West End green bridge proposed to land at exactly this site.” 

To increase public awareness and encourage more people to sign the petition, Mr Berkman posted a photo of the Toowong Swimming Pool from the 1960s. The pool was publicly funded and built in 1909 but the Council sold the property in 2001. 

Photo Credit: Michael Berkman – Greens MP for Maiwar/Facebook

“Nowadays there would be hundreds of private pools within a few kilometres of this spot, but most people don’t have access to a place to swim locally,” he said on Facebook. “I think it’s time for a public pool for Toowong and the west side, and the old ABC site would be a perfect location.” 

Mr Berkman also did a survey among Toowong residents in 2019 and learned that 88 percent want the old ABC site to be a “publicly owned riverside park with things we can all enjoy, like a pool, gardens, a dance hall or a new community centre.”

“This should be a non-partisan issue,” the MP reiterated. “So the local community and I are asking Labor and LNP representatives to work together to return this land into public hands.” 

Proposal to Turn Former ABC Site into Public Park Gets a Boost

Since the Sunland Group abandoned its plans to build the touted ‘Champagne Flute’ development the former ABC Brisbane headquarters in Toowong, talks of turning it into a park have been reignited.

There have been suggestions to turn it into a public park with community facilities like gardens and barbecues, but to make this a reality, Brisbane City Council would have to buy back the land.

Deputy Mayor Krista Adams confirmed that the Council is interested in purchasing a portion of the lot at 600 Coronation Drive. This statement came after Greens MPs initiated a survey asking residents what they what to see happen at the former ABC site.

The survey by Greens MP Michael Berkman and Councillor for The Gabba Jonathan Sri revealed that most of the respondents are looking forward to seeing a public garden on the site.

Around 88% of all respondents believe the government should buy back the ABC site. Only 4% said the government should not buy back the land whilst the remaining 8% are still not sure.

Almost 2,500 people participated in the survey and more than 100 local residents came to the community forum to share their ideas.

When asked what else they would like to see with the public space, locals suggest a spot to have a picnic, barbecues, a space to throw a frisbee, or a public pool.

Photo Credit:

“This area of Brisbane is becoming incredibly high density and multicultural, and backyards are increasingly either non-existent or tiny for most people. How amazing it would be to have community food gardens, especially giving people from other cultures the chance to grow traditional food plants and share this knowledge with the community,” one resident shared.

Other suggestions include incorporating a few cafes and restaurants, public art space, or a space for outdoor performances.

“We’ll especially be looking out for funding to buy back the ABC site and land a walking and cycling bridge to West End at that location,” Mr Berkman said through a Facebook post.

Meanwhile, Sunland announced earlier that they are planning a new development for the site, but will not give further details until a new development application is lodged.