What does Brisbane’s Future Blueprint mean for property developers? (part #2)

Continued on from part one…

Brisbane’s Future Blueprint is about to shape the way of the city’s future. In part one, we highlighted the first three principles (listed below) and the affect each one may have on property developers. We also discussed how the blueprint was formed - by a discussion involving people of all ages from every single suburb in Brisbane, which helped the council get a clearer view of what the community wanted. Although this sounds great for the Brisbane community, what kind of impact will it have on property developers?

Below is a quick recap of the first three principles discussed in part one:

1. Create a city of neighbourhoods; this is where the council aims to improve our local communities by developing amenities to enhance Brisbane’s residence lifestyle and leisure options. It is a great move for property developers looking to invest into commercial real estate.

2. Protect and create greenspace; the council is determined to protect green areas to enable the city to remain as a liveable, healthier and sustainable destination. This can have a slight impact on developers being knocked back on home and land builds due to trying to reserve more green areas.

3. Create more to see and do; this strategy will implement more community parks, fresh food markets and bring the river to life by making it be more useable. This is plus for developers wanting to invest in commercial property.

The following are the next three principles of Brisbane’s future blueprint:

BRISBANE’S FUTURE BLUEPRINT PRINCIPLE 4

Protect the Brisbane Backyard and Our Unique Character

Brisbane embodies unique character and history, and protecting it – is extremely important. The council plans on retaining the elements that we love about this city as well as provide more choice of lifestyle for our residents.

- Stop townhouses and apartments being built in areas for single homes.

This can be a showstopper for developers. Today, if there is a 3000 square metre block of land with 30 frontage, there could be an option for subdivision or a new complex of townhouses. However, in 6 months’ time, when this is implemented, it will become harder for developers to find a suitable block for possible redevelopment. This will become more and more rare to find and pose a big challenge for off-the-plan properties.

The contradiction though - are the council really going to be able to meet these requirements with the amount of influx coming into the state?

- Ensure that suburban development fits in with its surroundings

When talking about low, mid and high density - when a block of land is at low density there is less opportunity for development. The council plans to amend the zoning for some mid density areas to be reduced to low density. This will affect any potential development. For example; if a property was purchased in the hope that it could be subdivided one day, the plans may go down the drain due to this new regulation.

- Preserve the space between homes by ensuring minimum setbacks on property boundaries.

This new regulation is preserving the backyard character of Queensland homes. However, this puts more pressure on developers who are building or subdividing in this area. There will need to be 15% of green area or landscaping with a build. This means that the footprint of the building will need to be even smaller and can impact certain lots, which can become unviable for development. Again, this will make it very hard for property development.

- Protect our character and heritage by demanding greater enforcement powers and penalties from the Queensland Government.

The council is trying to protect heritage homes as to keep Queensland’s older character alive. This means that if there is a heritage listed home that can be developed due to not being in a good state – it is not allowed to be demolished. The penalties at the moment are quite minor which means that property developers can still earn more from the profit due to subdividing then what the penalty will. However, the council is trying to put a stop to this by enforcing harsher penalties, making it no longer worthwhile for the developer.

BRISBANE’S FUTURE BLUEPRINT PRINCIPLE 5

Ensure best practice design that complements the character of Brisbane

This principle highlights the design of Brisbane. Which means that any new development implemented will need to match areas it is being built in. As the city grows, high-quality design is required to keep Brisbane an attractive destination.

- Mandate best practice design that fits surroundings and meets community standards

The Brisbane Council will actually give preference to projects that are better suited to a specific location or a little more clever at what they are doing. This means that essentially when you submit a project to be built, if you have been clever in the way you are using green areas, re-suable water or energy, the council are going to give you preference over other projects that do not include these items.

- Create a design rating scheme to ensure buildings comply with higher design standards

The council will be holding building designs to a much higher standard. This will work well in your favour if you are using natural sunlight or green areas. The characteristics of houses in the suburb are going to be rated against these designs and if your build is on the higher scale, your project could be pushed forward easier than others.

- Increase the required areas for tree planting and deep landscaping in new development

Nowadays, if you buy a 1000 square metre block, you are able to have your build and landscaping at a certain percentage. When tree planting increases due to this new regulation, it will result in the building area decreasing for a same sized block. This results in the resale value being smaller or the development implementation and might not go ahead as it is not feasible anymore.

- Stop cookie-cutter townhouses by limiting repeated designs

This new regulation poses a big challenge for developers. When this comes into effect, it will mean that a no more complex of townhouses are to be built looking the same. The thing is, a project which is built displaying a certain number different designs is going to end up looking very strange. Which makes this a very grey area - if the council does want to repeat the design, it may end up looking messy as well as adding extra costs to the project due to needing to cater for more designs.

- Establish a Brisbane Design Office to implement a new design strategy for Brisbane

The Brisbane Council is establishing a design office. This new strategy doesn’t really affect developers, but from the point of view of town planers and city lovers, it is nice to see a council put in effort to care about the city and the design strategy.

- Preserve our city’s Queenslanders and other traditional designs.

This new strategy may be both good and bad for developers. If a new design for a build is put forward, it may be in competition with a traditional Queenslander style which will be more than likely chosen over it. However, if as a developer you choose to follow the traditional design, your design may be more likely accepted.

BRISBANE’S FUTURE BLUEPRINT PRINCIPLE 6

Empower and engage residents

This principle focuses on engagement with the community. Which means that each time there is a new development, it will need to go on the noticeboard which will notify the community. The public will then be able to have their say on each project and advise whether they like it or not. However, this could pose a challenge for developers as if a project has been put forward for development – the council will refer to the feedback from the community regarding the design, which could delay or stop it from moving forward.

- Give residents better access to development information and history with a new easy to use website.

This strategy will help inform the community about new developments, although it may bring on complaints. Making it easier for people to know about new projects could attract more negative feedback than positive, therefore prolonging the development.

- Create an alert system that makes it easier for residents to stay up to date with development

Creating an alert of new projects and development will notify people who were not aware of this before. Unfortunately, this isn’t as good news for developers as it could stop projects moving forward or transform the original ideas of the design.

- Convene an annual Intergenerational Planning Forum to hear from the community directly.

Hosted by Brisbane City Council, this yearly event will give residents of all ages the opportunity to share ideas and help plan the future of our city. The council want to have a broad reach between young old people, not just from the older demographics which have different lifestyle criteria. By hearing from a varied aged group means that the information will be a little broader as to what the community wants, although it may impose new restrictions for development.

- Continue to explore new technology to better engage with residents

The council proposes to update their websites regularly as well as explore other ways to connect and engage with the community online.

- Create a specific Character Design Forum for residents to guide the preservation of our city’s Queenslanders and other traditional designs.

This is not the greatest proposal for developers, as it could attract whistle blowers, as well as people who tell the council how unhappy they are with projects or designs, therefore stopping or prolonging a development from going ahead.


Brisbane is already a much-loved destination, due to its diversity and warm climate, and implementing Brisbane’s Future Blueprint holds much opportunity when it comes to evolving this diverse city – it also holds a lot of opportunity for Brisbane property developers. However, in order to be afront of the property game, it is necessary that all developers planning on building in Brisbane to really understand the blueprint and the effects it could have within the property space.

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