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Community & Business

18 January, 2022

Concerns raised over land supply study for Tablelands

A NEW land supply study has been endorsed by Tablelands Regional Council but not without some concern by councillors that the study’s recommendations could deter potential development.

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The study was commissioned by council in 2020 to determine what land was available and whether that supply would cater to the projected population growth in the area. 

The completed study, which looks at the land needs up to 2031 and then to 2041, provides council, public utilities, government and the development industry with accurate information on land availability, development trends, new growth fronts and the implications for planning and infrastructure. 

It contains four recommendations, most notably that no additional land be released in the life of the current planning scheme which caused some councillors to question whether the document should be “endorsed” or “received”. 

Deputy Mayor Cr Kevin Cardew said he was concerned that endorsing the study would “tie us in to the recommendations” contained within it. “There is a danger it will be taken literally as the ‘bible’…. Council officers may take it as it’s etched in stone if we endorse it,” he said. 

Cr David Clifton agreed, saying he wanted to be assured that the study and its recommendations would “be a guide and not a rule”. 

“We don’t want a document for officers to say that no additional land will be released – I don’t want that dictating future development,” he said. 

Cr Peter Hodge said while he understood the concerns of his fellow councillors, endorsing the study did not mean it would be seen as a mandate. 

“By endorsing it, we are not saying it’s a mandate but it gives officers guidance and a pathway,” he said. 

The study was endorsed with Crs Marti, Cardew and Clifton recording their vote against the recommendation. 

The land supply study was based on a forecast population growth of 7418 people by 2041 – a rate of 0.87 per cent increase a year – and noted that from 2001 to 2019, the region had an estimated 25,575 residents which represented an increase of 3681 since 2001. 

“In consideration of vacant land supply, and land with development potential, the study area was identified to be capable of supporting an additional population of 12,319 persons across all residential and rural residential zones,” it said. 

To accommodate the growth, wastewater upgrades would likely be required across all districts, except for Malanda and Ravenshoe. 

The study took into account all types of land uses including commercial and industrial needs. 

“The districts of Tolga-Walkamin, Tinaroo- Kairi and Malanda are projected to experience minor land deficits in the low impact industry zone by 2041,” it said. 

“In the case of the Tolga-Walkamin district, the land deficit may be largely ignored as the Atherton Industrial Estate is proximate and contains sufficient land to accommodate future low impact industrial needs… with an identified surplus of 1.5 hectares in 2041.”

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