New SEQ plan looks at unlocking land, focuses on affordable living.

A new plan for housing and infrastructure in south-east Queensland will ignore warnings about an over-supply of units and apartments, but aim to ride out the booms and busts of the housing market.

Draft plan includes:

  • Updates 2009 SEQ Regional Plan
  • 25-year plan, 50-year vision
  • Plans for housing, employment, roads and transport
  • 60pc infill, 40pc greenfield housing
  • Housing diversity to provide affordable housing
  • Links housing to services for affordable living
  • Identifies “urban breaks” and “bio-diversity corridors”
  • Public consultation until March 2017

The draft South East Queensland Regional Plan,released on the Gold Coast by the Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, provides for more high-density living in selected areas.

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad at release of draft South East Queensland Regional Plan

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad at release of draft South East Queensland Regional Plan

Ms Trad said she was aware of recent financial commentary about the over-approval of apartment buildings.

“This is not something that has gone into the SEQ Regional Plan, because this plan is to ride out any boom and bust cycle that may happen,” she said.

“It’s a plan for the long term — for 25 years — but it’s also a vision for our region over the next 50 years.

“This plan is about riding them all out to make sure that we have the best south-east Queensland region that we can possibly have.”

Ms Trad said the latest plan would also try to unlock land that had been previously set aside for development but had lain idle.

“We know that there are some 3,000 hectares of land within the current urban footprint that has been there since 2009 that hasn’t been developed,” she said.

“We know that we can be doing better in terms of getting that land to market to make sure that we’ve got the type of housing that Queenslanders need to drive down the cost of housing and liveability.

Another aspect of the plan was to consider the services required in residential areas.

“The draft plan focuses on affordable living — not just affordable housing — and looks at the way that people interact with their community and the services around them,” Ms Trad said.

“We have identified areas of regional economic significance throughout the southeast to facilitate economic growth outside the major employment hubs and enable people to work and live closer to home.

“We are looking, for the first time, beyond the boundary of a 25-year plan and have developed a 50-year vision that looks ahead to the region’s longer-term future and how SEQ responds to global changes.”

Ms Trad said an extra 2 million people were expected to live in south-east Queensland by 2041, swelling the population to 5.3 million. By 2061, the population was expected to grow to 10 million.

Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio said he would look closely at some of the smaller issues but called it a good long-term plan.

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said the plan would allow his city to keep the lifestyle it was famous for.

Redland Mayor Karen Williams said there was a lot of detail for residents to look at to make sure the plan suited her city.

Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) Queensland president, Steve Harrison, said it was an opportunity to unlock potential in the state’s south-east, particularly when Sydney and Melbourne housing was unaffordable for many people.

Property Council executive director Chris Mountford also welcomed the draft plan, but said it did not include everything the industry required.

“The property industry will now be sifting through the detail of the draft to test the underlying assumptions and determine if the Government’s approach is realistic,” he said.

Read more.

Deer meat in pet food plan

Feral deer could soon be turned into pet food, with the Victorian Government considering allowing processing of the game species.

A Government spokesman told The Weekly Times it was considering changes that would “help with the processing of game species, specifically wild deer”.

It’s likely any changes to the law would be welcomed by High Country farmer Peter “Pilso” Richards.

Mr Richards wants to restore an old kill house at Swifts Creek, in East Gippsland, to process deer for a commercial pet food market.

Ideas man: Peter “Pilso” Richards in the kill house at Swifts Creek where he would like to set up a wild-deer operation to produce commercial pet food. Picture: Laura Ferguson

Ideas man: Peter “Pilso” Richards in the kill house at Swifts Creek where he would like to set up a wild-deer operation to produce commercial pet food. Picture: Laura Ferguson

Mr Richards’ idea would see farmers apply for permits to allow a select group of qualified hunters on to private property to harvest the pests for processing at Swifts Creek.

Mr Richards bought the kill room — currently used for the occasional steer — more than a decade ago.

“It’s a single kill floor and cool room, so we’d have to spend some money to bring it up to scratch,” Mr Richards said.

Mr Richards’ idea has won early support from local farmers and hunters.

“We wouldn’t be opposed, if it’s tightly controlled,” Australian Deer Association executive Barry Howlett said of the deer-processing proposal.

“If the deer are over-abundant the farmers should have the tools they need to manage them,” he said.

Bindi farmer Simon Turner described Mr Richards as an “ideas man” and said that his plan would have “huge community support”.

Representing the Victorian Farmers Federation Omeo branch, Mr Turner said a deer-processing facility would provide employment and much-needed pest management, as farmers struggled with deer destroying dog-proof fences, pastures and crops.

Mr Turner knew of one farmer who had “shot 150 deer over winter just trying to keep a lid on the problem”.

The State Government is trialling a kangaroo cull in central and western Victoria for pet food.

Read more.

Pig poo power plant set to boost jobs and energy in northern Victoria

An ambitious plan to turn pig poo and food scraps into power is being developed in northern Victoria.

The power plant, glasshouse and piggery expansion, called Waranga Green Energy, will be built at Stanhope, west of Shepparton. For over five years, it has been the dream of piggery owner John Bourke.

The project is set to transform the quiet town of Stanhope, providing an additional 30 jobs and estimated $10 million per year for the local economy. The aim of the property is to develop a closed system for power and waste on the farm.

Pig poo and straw from the intensive farming environment will be used, along with other food waste, to create power in an anaerobic digester plant to be built nearby. The plant will be used to power the piggery and provide heat to an expanded and upgraded farm.

Next to the power plant, a 4.6-hectare greenhouse will be built, using power and heat to grow leafy green vegetables, year round, to supply gaps in the seasonal markets.

The goal is to sell up to 20 million lettuces and over 20,000 pigs per year, along with liquid and solid fertiliser (a bi-product from the power plant) to the farm’s customers.

The price tag for the Waranga Green Energy and farm project is around $75million which Mr Bourke is planning to raise through superannuation and foreign investment.

He has hired a company to raise the capital needed.

An additional $1 million grant has been awarded by the Victorian State Government.

Mr Bourke is confident he will get the investment dollars he needs because of the high return from the project.

Construction is set to begin in early 2017 with Mr Bourke expecting the farm to be fully operational and sending food to market within the year.

Pigs on straw beds at a piggery at Stanhope

Pigs on straw beds at a piggery at Stanhope

Read more.

 

Agriculture worth half a billion dollars to Tablelands

Agriculture contributed more than half a billion dollars to the economy of the Tablelands in far north Queensland in 2015, a new agriculture profile has revealed.

The profile puts the combined value of the region’s 42 large agricultural industries at $552 million.

Agriculture has posted a 30 per cent increase in value over the last four years, despite the impact of prolonged drought in some parts of the region.

Agriculture Minister Leanne Donaldson said the impressive growth demonstrated the strength of the local industry and its importance to the Tablelands.

 Matt and Jess Fealy, Blue Sky Produce, Mareeba, are among the large number of avocado growers who make up the industry which contributed $83 million to the region's economy in 2015.

Matt and Jess Fealy, Blue Sky Produce, Mareeba, are among the large number of avocado growers who make up the industry which contributed $83 million to the region’s economy in 2015.

Ms Donaldson used a recent trade mission overseas to promote the region’s produce.

“While recently on a trade mission to Jakarta, Hong Kong and Beijing I was able to meet directly with industry and government officials and to profile Queensland produce to industry leaders, Asian importers and distributors,” Ms Donaldson said.

Dr Geoff Dickinson, a Mareeba-based senior horticulturist with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), said the department had just updated the region’s agriculture profile for the first time since 2011.

“The banana industry is the most valuable to the Tablelands, worth $91 million,” Mr Dickinson said.

“Avocado is second with a value of $83 million. Other notable industries are mango ($52 million), sugar cane ($39 million), beef cattle ($35 million), dairy cattle ($34 million) and poultry ($30 million), he said.

Blueberries, a new agricultural industry on the Tablelands, are now worth $11 million. Sweet potatoes, an old industry making a comeback are now worth $5 million.

Both these industries are highly labour intensive and have brought many new seasonal jobs to the region, Dr Dickinson said.

Read more.