The 2017 Draft University of Queensland Master Plan is available from UQ here

What the SLCA thinks about the 2017 Draft UQ Master Plan

The latest Draft University of Queensland Master Plan is an expansive, sweeping expression of UQ’s current administration’s ambition. It seeks to set the stage for a University that’s bigger, taller, more scenic, more attractive to overseas students and high-calibre academics, open all hours and more self-important than ever before.

But what doesn’t appear in this administration’s “strategic” Master Plan are plain answers to the simple questions that UQ’s long-established neighbours deserve to have answered:

  1. “How many more students do you plan to take in?,
  2. “How many more staff will you employ?”,
  3. “How much more traffic will all this growth cause?”,
  4. “Who will pay for the infrastructure changes?” and
  5. “How many new buildings will all this entail?”

And most of all, in a document purporting to help UQ, Brisbane and Queensland plan properly for the next ten to twenty years, “Why is UQ’s current administration so unwilling (or unable) to come clean and quantify precisely how much it plans to grow?”

(from the UQ Draft Master Plan “FAQs)

The menu of dreams and possibilities the Draft Master Plan canvasses is vast.

  1. New cross river bridges,
  2. a tunnel under the campus connecting South and East SEQ suburbs to Indooroopilly,
  3. a vast new underground public transport “hub”,
  4. 24/7 operations and activities,
  5. major performance and event spaces,
  6. “iconic” new buildings and dozens of others rebuilt or refurbished,
  7. children’s water play areas,
  8. riverside lookouts,
  9. a riverside park open to all,
  10. new on and off-campus retail, service and catering facilities,
  11. electric inter-campus buses,
  12. riverside walks and much more.

Inevitably, these would also mean:

  1. 20 years of constant on- and off-campus major construction – all delivered through St Lucia,
  2. three sizeable areas of St Lucia and Long Pocket irrevocably changed from low or medium density to high-rise and high-density,
  3. a major increase in through bus traffic from UQ itself and suburbs across the River all the way to Indooroopilly along Hawken Drive and Swann Rd,
  4. more noise, more pollution, more traffic and more road congestion problems,
  5. more off-campus parking conflicts,
  6. old roads turned into new high frequency bus highways,
  7. scarce parkland permanently lost to bridge construction and approaches on both sides of the River,
  8. putting all the dense new student housing and most of UQ’s future parking on the edge of the campus, right next to where residents live.

There’s pages of fancy talk about “campus frames” and “villages” and “transport mode shifts” and the benefits to UQ from “activating” the river fringe. But precious little about what these changes will mean for residents of the Inner West suburbs. Not just for St Lucia, but Indooroopilly, Taringa, Toowong and West End as well. Perhaps even Yeronga and Dutton Park too.

Wouldn’t it be better to say something like: “We need to recruit 10,000 more students a year by 2025 to stay where we are now in the rankings, and to do that we’ll also need another 1000 staff, thousands of on-campus flats, another 1000 parking spaces and another 200 bus trips a day to and from the campus”?

Or UQ could try: “This is how we plan for our campus to become a greener, bigger, grander, even lovelier place to study and teach, and this is what we need to take from you in order to achieve that.”

It seems to us that UQ’s over-riding motivation behind the new Master Plan is to make more room on its physically-constrained UQ campus for many more students. Just like the last time around. Preferably full-fee paying students. And ideally ones who are also willing to pay UQ to rent one of its 1,300 new on-campus high rise “studio” flats (and many more planned for what is now off-campus land). That’s 1,300 rents a week. Even at $150 a week, that’s a lot of cashflow with no offsetting compensation or benefit to Inner Western Brisbane, which will cop all the impacts.

UQ’s current administration wants to become twice as big a catering, retail and entertainment provider, one operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Which will do local retailers no favours at all.

Is this current UQ administration running a business or a university? Would any other developer be allowed to get away it? And why won’t they make their argument stand up in plain sight backed by clear figures?

This latest Draft Master Plan is seeking carte blanche. It even says so, very discreetly.

All of Brisbane should say to the current UQ administration: “ No, UQ, you simply must do better.”

Some History: This is the SLCA’s core response to the 2015 University of Queensland Draft Master Plan

What you can do now

1) Write an objection email to the State Government, BCC, your Councillor or your State Member. We’ll post an “automatic” one here that you can edit and contribute to yourself very soon.
2) Download the Master Plan for yourself.
3) Volunteer to drop some flyers in your street.
4) Order a yard sign to display on your property.

Have you seen the draft UQ St Lucia Campus Master Plan?

One of the nice things about living in St Lucia is having the University nearby (despite the student
parties and the traffic and parking issues). The relationship between town and gown is often tricky,
but this new growth plan signals huge changes for St Lucia that only serve UQ.

If you think traffic is bad now, wait until UQ completes this massive development project.

The new University of Queensland Master Plan is designed to:

  • excise Upland Rd and the eastern end of Hawken Drive from all Council planning controls
  • expand total UQ floor space 50% – assisted by swallowing part of our suburb
  • increase parking for students and staff by at least 1,200 spaces
  • build several up to 10 storey highrises in Hawken Drive on Low Density Residential land
  • develop a new Hawken Drive retail shopping and “services” centre
  • move the Chancellor’s Place bus facility to a 100m frontage in Hawken Drive
  • close Upland Rd, forcing cars, cyclists and buses onto Picardy, Boomerang or other local roads
  • unilaterally absorb the area around Hawken Drive (from The Esplanade across Picardy St towards
    Boomerang Rd) to make a larger University campus. Ultimately, this area will no longer be subject to
    Council planning controls
  • develop 7 new buildings housing 250 new accommodation units (up to 8 storeys high)
    around the Avalon Theatre on Sir Fred Schonell Drive

Key Observations

  • UQ is expanding into low-density zoned St Lucia with 10 storey high-rises outside its campus
    without any known plan to manage (or even predict) the impact illegal medications end up in our public health on local amenity. (That’s not “urban
    creep” it’s a large and high impact take-over.)
  • UQ wants to expand by annexing part of our suburb without real community consultation
  • The Masterplan shows no evidence of any traffic or public transport impact studies
  • 1000s of extra students will clog St Lucia with predictable but unmanaged congestion
  • There have been no retail studies on the impact of the new shopping strip on Hawken Drive
  • After significant community consultation 4 years ago, Brisbane City Council decided not to support
    most of these UQ plans and cut them out of their proposed Neighbourhood Plan
  • At least 1,200 new car parks can only encourage more car journeys to and from UQ,
  • UQ’s Avalon site will become a high-rise island.