Leaders challenged on surplus government land

The state’s property industry has presented a bold vision for six of the Queensland Government’s most underutilised landholdings, challenging political leaders to commit to do more with surplus State-owned land.

Property Council Queensland Executive Director, Chris Mountford, has labelled the State Government’s sizable land bank as the “lowest hanging fruit for Queensland political leaders aspiring to create new jobs.”

“The Government is the largest landowner in the state with countless parcels of vacant or underutilised land that could be converted from a drain on resources to productive community assets,” Mr Mountford said.

“Opening up excess government-owned land for development will not only create an income for the State, but will unlock economic activity, create jobs and build business confidence.” 

"Many neglected and crumbling sites across Queensland have major potential to become vibrant renewed community hubs.”

“What Queensland needs is the political courage to give these old sites a new lease on life.”

The Property Council’s Six Sites: Redevelopment of surplus Government Land to Stimulate the Queensland Economy report, produced by industry advisory firm and city shaping experts Urbis, has illustrated how the private sector could transform some the Government’s most neglected land parcels.

Analysis has been conducted on theoretical developments at the former Toowoomba Gasworks, Townsville Police Barracks, Brisbane Central Station, Bundamba TAFE, the former Yeronga TAFE, and the former Brisbane Dental Hospital and College. (DETAILS SUMMARISED BELOW)

“Industry experts have taken a realistic look at what is achievable on these sites, and valued the economic and social benefits that could be attained through these outcomes,” Mr Mountford said.

“From a diversity of new housing product, to educational facilities, to new commercial and hotel developments, there is no shortage of development options that would have strong industry interest on these sites.”

“Importantly, this research is intended as a thought piece representing ideas, rather than fixed solutions. While any strategy selected for the individual sites analysed will ultimately be subject to further discussion, it is irrefutable that great opportunities are being forgone, as strategic sites across the state lay vacant or underutilised.

“These six case studies alone would create nearly 1,100 jobs during the development phase, and generate over $263 million in economic activity,” Mr Mountford said.

“Once completed, these proposals would be home to 8,000 jobs and continue to contribute nearly $1 billion annually to the state’s economy.”

“The significant potential of many locked-up sites across the state should be the source of great frustration for Queensland taxpayers.”

The Property Council of Australia, the peak body representing Queensland’s property industry, has long advocated for government to manage its landholdings more efficiently.

While all major parties contesting the election have committed to not sell income-generating State assets, the maintenance and security of surplus land represents a sizeable burden on the state’s budget. 

The Labor Government’s Advancing our Cities and Regions policy, released in 2016, aimed to make better use of underutilised landholdings - but has not achieved successful outcomes to date.

“A more concerted focus is needed to work with the private sector to unlock opportunities to deliver new social and place-making outcomes, while positively stimulating economic activity,” Mr Mountford said.

“Consideration really needs to be given to a single, central agency responsible for the management of government land that removes the departmental game playing.”

“The property industry is challenging our state’s political leaders to show more imagination when it comes how to best manage state-owned land in the interest of all Queenslanders.”

Property Council ideas for six prime underutilised or surplus Government sites: