Council needs to grab spare Birkdale land

REDLANDS might be in for a windfall thanks to the federal budget, with the government announcing that it is looking to sell land at Birkdale.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority land covers 82 hectares and is part of five blocks along Old Cleveland Road East that Redland City Council has an interest in.

One is already in council hands – the much smaller Willards farm and its lovely old house and outbuildings.

The federal government says the ACMA land could support up to 400 houses but it remains unclear just what will happen to it – even whether council will be able to buy it.

The land is subject to many competing interests and interest groups. It already has been the subject of several political brawls and another is emerging.

It and surrounding blocks have been mooted for development, a site for a university, recreation and as bushland.

Some parts of the land in this area have been cleared and other parts – particularly on the northern end – have good quality scrub which could link with Brisbane City Council reserves that have been put aside for wildlife, particularly koalas.

The intense interest in the block is not surprising. As development continues in the Redlands, remaining blocks like these assume ever greater value.

Brisbane has seen a similar situation for more than a decade. As housing blocks are split into small lots and “McMansions” are built allowing little room for children to run, places like parks, conservation reserves and all manner of open spaces have assumed a much greater value to residents.

In the Redlands, conservation reserves have been turned into sports recreation areas which has led to confrontation between walkers, bicycle and trail bike riders and people wishing to let dogs run free. Flora and fauna conservation runs a distant last.

Open space, especially if it has habitat or can be restored, has great value as refugia for wildlife because there is so little room left in which creatures can survive.

Putting aside the Birkdale land’s uses, council should do its best to secure this land. Council showed foresight in March by buying a 6.6 hectare block at Alexandra Hills. The Birkdale land would similarly be a valuable community resource.

There cannot be too many large blocks in such a closely settled area coming up like this.