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North West Transport Corridor plans dusted-off as Brisbane tackles congestion in the suburbs

A long-dormant road reserve slicing through Brisbane’s congested north-west suburbs could help take the pressure off a clogged transport network facing a commuting boom from Moreton Bay and the Sunshine Coast.

Brisbane City Council is finalising a federally funded $10 million business case to submit to Infrastructure Australia on solutions to fend off the north-west’s projected gridlock by 2041.

Many of the proposed solutions, released by the council for community feedback in December, rely on a State Government transport corridor set aside in the 1980s.

The North West Transport Corridor stretches for nine kilometres between Everton Park and Carseldine. It was first identified in the 1960s as a potential highway route but has been left almost entirely untouched since then.

North West Transport

The North West Transport Corridor runs from Everton Park to Carseldine and is owned by the Queensland Government.(Supplied: Brisbane City Council)

Commuter headaches to worsen

Roads in Brisbane’s north-west are already under heavy pressure with rapid population growth north of the city feeding high levels of daily commuter traffic.

Traffic analysis by the council estimates nearly 500,000 additional daily trips would originate in the north-western suburbs, or travel through to Brisbane from Moreton Bay and the Sunshine Coast, by 2041.

Study area growth and travel forecast

North West Transport

^ Total distance travelled by all vehicles on the network per day ^^ Total distance travelled by all public transport passengers per day Table: ABC News: Lewi Hirvela Source: Brisbane City Council Get the data Created with Datawrapper

Infrastructure Australia last year identified the Brisbane-Moreton corridor capacity as a high-priority problem, noting by 2041 nearly half of Moreton’s residents would commute south to Brisbane.

The council’s analysis found congestion through the north-western suburbs alone is expected to cost the economy $859.4 million annually by 2041.

Crowding on public transport at peak times is forecast to be “beyond acceptable levels” in 20 years, while the existing rail network has limited capacity to add more services.

North West Transport

Park and ride locations could be upgraded and level crossings removed under a Brisbane City Council proposal for the north-west.(Supplied: Brisbane City Council)

Travel times will dramatically worsen, with travel time on the Gateway Motorway between Kingsford Smith Drive and the Bruce Highway set to increase by 69 per cent, from half an hour in 2016 to nearly a full hour in 2041.

South Pine Road from Enoggera Road to Albany Creek Road, a 9km trip currently taking about 20 minutes, will take 42 minutes in 2041.

Increase in travel times

By 2041, worsening congestion on key roads will result in travel times increasing by up to 78%.*

North West Transport

* Highly congested lanes are identified as those lanes that have volumes that exceed the theoretical capacity of the road, also described as volume/capacity equal to more than one. Table: ABC News: Lewi Hirvela Source: Brisbane City Council Get the data Created with Datawrapper

But 57 per cent residents surveyed for the council’s business case said better public transport was their highest priority for the north-west — just 26 per cent wanted new roads and 11 per cent wanted better cycling infrastructure.

Council suggests several solutions

Late last year the council released several possible transport solutions to the community for more feedback, most of which relied heavily on the North West Transport Corridor.

The corridor, a 9km reserve between Everton Park and Carseldine, was first earmarked in the 1960s under a state transport plan by American consultants Wilber Smith and Associates and was formally set aside by the Queensland Government in the 1980s.

North West Transport

Brisbane City Council’s suggestions for new vehicle roads and tunnels through the north-western suburbs.(Supplied: Brisbane City Council)

Options put forward by the council include vehicle tunnels running the length of the nearly untouched corridor and feeding out to other new tunnels citywide.

Alternatively, a Brisbane Metro route would run from the CBD up to Carseldine, or a rail tunnel from the CBD to Newmarket would connect a new above-ground line to Carseldine.

Still using the corridor, a multi-modal proposal would combine a road tunnel under Stafford travelling east to join a road, rail line, and cycleway.

The council’s infrastructure committee chairman David McLachlan said the business case will be finalised later this year.

North West Transport

New busway connections through the north-west suburbs of Brisbane is another option.(Supplied: Brisbane City Council)

“The north-west suburbs currently have a wide range of public transport services including buses and trains, but we know through the feedback received that some residents want improved public transport,” Cr McLachlan said.

“How to achieve this outcome is the purpose of the North West Transport Network business case.”

Cr McLachlan said the council was looking at options across the north-west from Bald Hills to Toowong for better transport services and infrastructure.


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Bid to Open Up Student Accommodation to Workers

Student Accommodation

Scape Australia plans to open up its student accommodation to essential workers and interstate travellers as it waits for international students to return to the country.

The group applied for a temporary change of use for its Atria South Brisbane property until the end of February 2023, providing accommodation for non-students in the 88 Ernest Street building.

This will “allow the applicant to effectively manage the impact Covid-19 has had on their Brisbane assets [six buildings in total]” according to the application.

“Prior to Covid-19 [December 2019], building occupancy in Brisbane was at 75 per cent currently the assets have an occupancy rate of 28 per cent as Scape’s primary market is international students,” the report stated.

“The proposed ‘other change’ will allow Scape to use the vacancies in its buildings to offer the Brisbane housing market an alternative to typical renting models [share houses and the like].

“Scape are hoping to host like-minded occupants within the building who are not students.

“Examples include interstate travellers who do not want to sign a six- or 12-month lease elsewhere but need to remain in Brisbane for three-plus months or hospital workers who are assisting in the nearby Mater with the Covid-19 response.”

This is the second time Scape has tried to change the use of the building—that proposal was rejected by the council in August last year due to parking and transport issues.

Overseas arrival numbers remain at record lows, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which recorded a 99.1 per cent drop in visitor arrivals in February compared to the same period last year.

Student Accommodation

▲ Scape have multiple properties in Brisbane and more than 18,000 beds across the globe in development or operation. 

To shape a recovery for the industry, federal education minister Alan Tudge announced a 10-year, whole-of-sector international education.

In 2019 there were 750,000 international students studying in Australia, accounting for a third of university enrolments.

“In 2019, we started the year with around 480,000 continuing international students, while another 150,000 entered Australia to study in the first half of the year, and a further 130,000 in the second half,” Tudge said.

“Closing the borders, of course, had a significant disruption on the international student sector.

“That normal pattern was not possible last year. While some started online, many also deferred their studies, preferring to wait until travel is again possible.”

Despite a lack of international students in 2020, Scape continued to expand its Australian portfolio, purchasing 252 serviced apartments in the Aurora Melbourne Central building for $125 million in November.

The group also lodged plans for four student towers on each corner of an intersection in Kensington and Kingsford near the University of New South Wales.


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The cost of renting in Brisbane reaches record levels, outstrips Melbourne prices

For the first time in years, it now costs more to rent a home in Brisbane than Melbourne, with mass migration and a near two-decade low vacancy rate shooting median asking prices to record heights.

Amid tales of tenant bidding wars and rejected applicants reduced to tears, the latest Domain Rent Report, released Thursday, revealed the average weekly asking price for a house in the Queensland capital soared by almost 8 per cent to an unprecedented $440 per week over the past 12 months – and by 3.5 per cent over the past quarter alone.

The price hike means the average Brisbane tenant is now paying $10 more a week than their Melbourne counterpart for a house, and $25 more a week for a unit after prices for the latter rose by a slightly more modest 3.9 per cent over the year to a record-breaking $400 per week.

Domain senior research analyst Nicola Powell said the report marked a sharp turnaround for the city, with houses, in particular, marking the steepest annual increase in rent prices since 2008 following three strong consecutive quarters of rent gains.

“Melbourne house rents have been higher than Brisbane’s since about 2016 so what we’ve really seen in Brisbane since mid-2020 is an acceleration in asking rents and this really goes against what was happening in the lead up [to the pandemic],” Dr Powell said.

“They had relatively flatlined since 2013.”

Dr Powell said while Queensland had always been a hot destination for interstate migrants, the pandemic and the possibility of remote working had fuelled the trend with the annual number of Australians moving to the state hitting its highest level since 2006.

“Tenants will find less choice, with the pool of available rentals shrinking by one-third compared to last year, pushing Brisbane’s vacancy rate to a multi-year low,” she said.

“House and unit rents held steady or increased in all regions across Greater Brisbane over the March quarter, apart from unit rents in Ipswich sliding a mere $5 a week. Annually, the biggest jump in asking rent was recorded for houses in Brisbane’s north and Moreton Bay North, the steepest annual increase since 2008, up 6.8 per cent and 6.7 per cent annually.”

While rent prices indeed soared across most parts of the city it was the capital’s family-friendly pockets in the middle and even outer rings that shone brightest, with houses in Bald Hills and Everton Park enjoying the biggest annual price rise after surging 10.6 per cent to $520 per week.

Hot on their heels were Kenmore, Brookfield and Moggill, where median asking prices for houses shot up by 8.2 per cent over the same period to an unprecedented $595 per week – a rental price equal only to houses in the inner-city west region.

It’s a rare rental boom that Aurora Realty Brisbane leasing manager Abi Harrington said was reaching eye-watering levels – with their agency currently managing 100,000 tenants actively seeking a home.

“We’ve gone from houses taking three weeks to rent out, to three days and even down to three hours [in the past quarter],” Ms Harrington said.

“You wouldn’t believe the gifts I have received (from desperate tenants) from gin, to flowers to cheesecake and even a bottle of champagne.

“We used to have the policy that a tenant mustn’t apply before they’ve seen the property but now we say apply first if you like the photos … and if you get approved we’ll arrange a private inspection after [because rentals are being snapped up so quickly].”

As for the soaring rents in Everton Park and Bald Hills, Ms Harrington put the increase down to tenants being simply priced out of Brisbane’s more expensive inner pockets, with houses in quiet suburbs boasting a good school catchment the number one lure.

“I’ve just listed a property in Everton Park … and in less than 24 hours I have five inspections booked in … but sometimes we get up to 15 people in the first few hours,” she said.

“This is the height of it and it’s absolute chaos. On average tenants are offering $20 to $30 dollars over the asking price but some people are surpassing that. People from Sydney and Melbourne are cashed up and headed this way because buying a house is far cheaper here and Queensland is the obvious choice as the office doesn’t exist anymore.”

Ms Harrington said soaring interstate migration was a major contributor to rising rent prices, with some southern home hunters willing to fork out $90 per week more in a move that was causing much anxiety among Brisbane residents.

cost of renting in Brisbane

Properties for rent in suburbs like Chapel Hill and Kenmore are sparking bidding wars.

“Locals feel like they’re being pushed out … and I see this getting worse. And it’s not fair on locals living here struggling to meet that price range … and we don’t encourage [bidding wars] because we’re trying to manage expectations,” she said.

Ray White Metro West property manager Stephanie Budrodeen said with rental wars now a common occurrence in hot spots such as Chapel Hill and Kenmore, median prices, in reality, had soared beyond eight per cent to as high as 30, creating a scene more akin to an auction, with the charge being led by Melbourne families particularly desperate to bag a house in a top school catchment.

She said the pandemonium was further fuelled by the “nuts” sales market with some tenants pushed out by owners desperate to sell in a booming market, while others were forced to rent purely because there was nothing to buy.

“Two weeks ago, we just had one property [a two-bedroom unit] left on our rental roll … and that’s never happened before. But the downfall to all of this is owners think their properties are worth more than they are and this is going to make problems for the future when prices are no longer inflated,” Ms Budrodeen said.

“Tenants are in panic mode right now … and in my opinion this a ripple effect from the housing market.”


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[+] Developer Ramps Up Hunt for Springfield CBD Investment Partner

Springfield CBD

Introducing The Urban Developer Plus (TUD+),
our premium membership for property professionals.

In this TUD+ Briefing, Springfield City Group’s Bob Sharpless discusses its global search for a partner to help deliver its $15-billion Knowledge Precinct that will complete the Springfield CBD.

The group has now put out a tender for a development partner to help deliver a new 120ha precinct, approved for more than 1.2-million sq m of commercial space and more than 5000 apartments.

This TUD+ Briefing covers:

—the mixed-use development opportunity for the partner

—education, health and technology uses across the site

—preferred partnership models and developer credentials

—the appointment of Moelis Australia to lead the search

—the impacts of Covid-19 on the global tender

—the timeline and projected announcement date.


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