Commonwealth land at Birkdale sold to Redland council for $4.1 million

A 61.8 hectare Commonwealth block of land at Birkdale will be sold to Redland City Council for $4.1 million.

LAND TALKS: Mayor Karen Williams and MP Andrew Laming at the Commonwealth land on Saturday.

LAND TALKS: Mayor Karen Williams and MP Andrew Laming at the Commonwealth land on Saturday.

Use of the land has been hotly disputed for at least a decade, with ideas for it to be a university, to be developed for housing, become a koala reserve, a heritage site and a zoo.

Bowman MP Andrew Laming said he had campaigned for the land to be put into community hands since 2005.

"This land is a jewel in the crown for Redlands," he said. "It was my idea in 2005 that has come to fruition, and I never gave up."

The block contains heritage buildings including buildings related to WWII communications, some bushland and grazing paddocks.

Mayor Karen Williams said the buy was great value although it was not yet clear what its final use would be.

"The land at 362-388 Old Cleveland Road East is the latest significant strategic purchase of land by council  that will benefit generations of Redlands Coast residents," Cr Williams said.

"...We will now complete due diligence and settle the purchase before consulting widely with the community on what they believe to be the best use or uses for the site."

The Australian Communications and Media Authority land has been in council's sights since 2009.

MEETING: At the Birkdale radio communications facility are MP Andrew Laming and councillors Peter Mitchell, Paul Gleeson, Karen Williams, Julie Talty, Paul Bishop and Wendy Boglary.

MEETING: At the Birkdale radio communications facility are MP Andrew Laming and councillors Peter Mitchell, Paul Gleeson, Karen Williams, Julie Talty, Paul Bishop and Wendy Boglary.

Cr Williams said the council had written to the Commonwealth, asking that it rescind its decision to divest the land in 2019-20 for 400 houses, as outlined in the budget.

"I have lobbied the prime minister, presented a petition to the PM and spoken many times to Coalition and Labor politicians and bureaucrats in Canberra, telling them just how important it is that council acquire the land and for it to be used for conservation and community purposes," Cr Williams said.

The land falls away from its Old Cleveland Road frontage towards a tidal section of Tingalpa Creek along the southern western boundary.

The 61.78ha site comprises 72.48 per cent protected conservation area and a cleared area of 17ha of useable land available for community purposes.

It includes a building built by the American Army Corp and used to house a US Army Radio Receiving Station during WWII. The radio station is believed to have received the first message in Australia in August 1945 that the Japanese had surrendered and was used by General MacArthur.

Mr Laming said he was confident koala habitat would be protected.

"The cleared areas offer the potential under current zoning to support fauna, revegetation, parkland, walkways, a visitor's centre, education, high end tourism and the heritage of this site showcased."

Mr Laming has proposed that the Alma Park Zoo on Brisbane's northside be moved to the site but this has been slammed by the Birkdale Progress Association president Pam Spence who said the habitat should be maintained for the dwindling koala population.

Ms Spence said the world was moving away from the spectacle of caged animals.

"Do these people who are pushing for this to happen realise that a zoo is where animals are enclosed?" Ms Spence said. "Animals deserve better than being locked up and many people recognise this."

Mr Laming said the zoo could be a game-changer for the Redlands but people who opposed it would also have their views heard.

Ms Spence said koala habitat was being cleared at a shameful rate and the land should provide an opportunity for tourists to experience animals in their natural habitat.

She proposed a koala wildlife hospital be opened on the site and suggested Willard Homestead and a new radio museum on the adjacent lot as alternative tourism drawcards.