Holistic local sustainability; food, water, energy, money, people
The Corner sits in a prominent position where McCollough St/Boundary Rd and Troughton Road meet. It is the front door view of Cornerstone Living that travellers [sic] from the north and the west see.
The three blocks include 1/ a car park and two demountable shops (initially a property sales office and a cafe), 2/ a Dutch House and 3/ a community garden. The Queensland Department of Housing leased the properties to a developer, Cornerstone Living (Consolidated Property Group) in about 2013, on condition it provide an ‘interum [sic] community centre’. In 2016, the community garden was installed.
Apparently, the developer and its body corporate property manager didn’t inform residents of the purpose of the house or in any way facilitate community utilization of the building or the community garden. Subsequently, the house has sat unoccupied and idle for 8 years. The house has not deteriorated much; a testament to its durable build. The community garden fell into disuse and disrepair after a year and Council fielded complaints that it was a fire hazard. The two shops have been unoccupied for 2 years and vandals have had a go at them.
From about 2018, some local residents began actively revitalizing the garden and taking an interest in the Dutch House and Corner. To see more about the garden, go to A story of greenwash…? Come join us anyway.
Whilst in some suburbs community gardens can spring up without commercial or official input, they are places where a sense of community is strong and climate change registers as a personal responsibility. There, food security and local resilience matter. Laudable as it may seem for a developer to install a garden, if it isn’t a response to residents’ requests and isn’t publicized or facilitated, what other than a marketing ploy can it be? Not a well-researched ploy, it would seem, given the target has largely been the Sunnybank sub-culture, many of whom feel linguistically and culturally distant to the mainstream. Our friendly garden crew make it easy for them to overcome their reticence to engage in public, IF they walk through the area and show an interest, but more facilitation is needed. Permaculture is not a thing in China – business and building is, as is to be expected of a recently industrialized nation.
In December 2021, the Housing Department sold the three blocks to the developer without public notice for about $1.2 million. The developer’s DA to clear all three blocks was approved by Council in 2019, but was delayed by COVID. Not a single submission from the community was receved [sic] according to records in Council’s iDevelopment. No noticeboard was raised to announce the repurposing of The Corner.
As of writing, the developer’s legal obligations to consult the community are under investigation…. by me. Plans for The Corner, illustrated below, include expanding the car park to more than 50% of the whole parcel, drastically reducing green space and raising the heat island effect of the area. The embodied carbon emissions of removing perfectly serviceable facilities and building 5 shops and a supermarket is the exact opposite of what is in our long-term interests, environmentally.
Some local residents may appreciate the new facilities and their proximity, but the Banoon shops are very nearby and the Coopers Plains train station shops are at the other end of the precinct. Both these shopping centres are in need of refurbishment. Competition will send them into terminal decline unless the population increases, which will put greater pressure on roads, parking and services, necessitating further government expenditure and tax-raising. Everything is connected. Refurbishing the existing facilities will minimize expense and carbon emissions. I propose that the existing two shops and the Dutch House be rented to retail businesses. When these two demountable shops have reached their natural use-by date, they be replaced with the 4 shops and amenities planned in the existing DA, which utilize unused space to the fenceline.
The Corner is a place where people come to sit under a cool tree, even without shops open. In the meantime the car park services the Special School opposite on a regular basis and St Thomas Moore College during events. The Corner could operate at no expense to the Cornerstone Living Body Corporate if the three existing buildings were leased to retail businesses. Income from the businesses and school parking fees would cover municipal rates (if any), maintenance and grounds-keeping. City Council rates under the previous lease agreement to the developer were $1 per year.
Demolition appears to be imminent.
I know some people in the neighbourhood welcome the developers’ plans, but I caution against the unnecessary extent of work. The supermarket could be put where the demountables are. The car park and community garden could be retained and the Dutch House utilized as a history cafe, run as a small business.
This would have preserved some history, facilitated community adaptation to a future of uncertain food security, minimized resources needed (and financial and environmental demands) as well as minimizing carbon emissions. It would have enabled locals to walk to a supermarket and allowed the existing Banoon specialty Shops to continue or even improve.
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