The University of Queensland released their Draft St Lucia Campus Master Plan On Monday, which was then opened for public consultation until April 2017.
“The plan identifies overarching strategies and potential projects that will provide the framework for development of the campus for the foreseeable future,” University of Queensland Chief Operating Officer Greg Pringle said.
That plan includes a number of intended upgrade and implementation projects across a broad range of university services, including sporting and academic facilities, and also the upgrading and creation of new infrastructure that will see new and improved student accommodation and transport access for rail, road and pedestrian.
The draft plan turns particular attention to transport and university access, proposing a high-frequency bus service loop running through the uni between Dutton Park and Indooroopilly, and a tunnel under the main campus area before re-emerging and running down Hawken Drive for services across the Eleanor Schonell Bridge over the Brisbane (which currently turn around at the UQ Lakes stop).
A new village, with high-rise unit blocks to accommodate hundreds of extra students along with shops and cafes would also be developed, along with a new university precinct that would be established at Long Pocket, linked to the main campus by a riverfront footpath.
“The plan explores possible uses for University landholdings including the Avalon Theatre, and the Long Pocket and Hawken Drive precincts,” Mr Pringle said.
“It also considers potential major transport initiatives, ways to improve access to the Brisbane River for recreational activities and opportunities to open the campus grounds and facilities to the wider community.
“Consideration is also given to solutions that encourage commuters to walk, cycle and use public transport to UQ St Lucia, rather than travelling in private vehicles.”
Mr Pringle said it should be noted that the Plan provided conceptual guidance only.
“It is not a defined development outcome or detailed delivery plan,” he said.
UQ expects to consider feedback received during the public consultation period and develop a finalised Master Plan between April and June this year.
A community divided?
When the draft plan dropped into circulation, news broke that its contents was not unanimously accepted by everyone.
The Courier Mail reported that the “long-awaited masterplan” infuriated a local community group who accused university hierarchy of ‘’bully boy tactics’’ and paying lip service in a long consultation process.
“Turning Hawken Drive into the Hawken Highway is a gross breach of trust,’’ St Lucia Community Association president James Mackay told The Courier Mail.
“It’s one lane each way and they want to have a day and night high-frequency bus service going straight past a local school and through narrow 50km/h streets.’’
A town planner told The Courier Mail the move would likely necessitate the road to be widened to three or four lanes, requiring property acquisitions, although that does not appear in the masterplan.
While a portion of the West End community reviled the plans in fears of its negative impact on the area, Council have also condemned parts of the draft plan, having not “heard a peep” from the uni who revealed in the draft plans for a bridge in the middle of a Brisbane City Council-owned park at West End, according to the Brisbane Times.
“UQ’s master plan shows a second “green bridge” – similar to the Eleanor Schonell Bridge at Dutton Park – built across to West End to help shape its next 20 years,” the Brisbane Times said.
“However, UQ plans to land the bridge, which must be capable of carrying light rail, in the middle of Orleigh Park at West End for its 50,000 students.”
The council will reportedly ask the Queensland government to refuse a planning exemption for the university so it cannot bypass standard development controls including court appeals, accepting community feedback and paying infrastructure charges.
UQ’s draft plan also includes the council’s earlier Metro plan, not the revised Metro plan, which already offers extra buses over the Eleanor Schonell Bridge.
Brisbane City Council’s city planning chairman Cr Julian Simmonds said he was “embarrassed” the plan included Brisbane City Council’s old Metro project, not the new version, which promises extra buses over the Eleanor Schonell Bridge.
“Whether residents are prepared to lose their council green space for a bridge is also yet to be discussed by the community,” he told the Brisbane Times.
“But I would be very surprised if the community was prepared to fund hundreds of millions of dollars of new infrastructure without the University of Queensland coming to the party.”