Missing: Green Infrastructure

Density must be off-set.

That’s a good yardstick.  The chummier our homes – think apartments – the bigger and better the outside space needs to be.

Brisbane is planning to become a very urban city, with many more residents living in mid to high-rise apartments and many of them in the downtown area.

That makes sense, but one thing that Brisbane and especially the inner-city area lacks is public open space.

There are some 275,000 people now living within a five-kilometre radius of the Brisbane GPO; with an additional 100,000 residents expected within the next 20 years.

Yet despite some notable additions like South Bank and Roma Street Parklands in recent years this area holds no more public open space than it did 100 years ago.

Some comparisons

Another way of looking at it is that there is just 6m2 of public open space per resident in inner Brisbane compared to 15m2 in Sydney and 29m2 in Melbourne.  Even in New York City the ratio is nearly twice that of Brisbane.

Worse still is that much of Brisbane’s inner-city open space is fenced and inaccessible to the general public.  This includes sporting infrastructure like the Gabba and Suncorp Stadium; the Riverside Stage and green spaces like Davies Park in West End which is partially fenced for sporting events.

In many of Brisbane’s inner-city suburbs there is insufficient green areas for children (and us adults) to play.

There is little doubt that what open space inner Brisbane does have is well used.  South Bank, apparently, attracts more foot traffic than Central Park in New York City. This to me suggests that South Bank is way too small.

Also, many of the open spaces inner Brisbane does have aren’t used often, nor shared, enough.  Think about Suncorp Stadium’s forecourt or Musgrave Park.

If Brisbane is to accommodate more apartments and at high densities in the inner-city it will need to invest much more in open space infrastructure.

If we use Sydney and Melbourne as benchmarks, then inner Brisbane needs some 100 extra hectares of open space and this will need to be delivered within the next decade.

How can this be done?

For mine, Brisbane’s greatest asset is the Brisbane River.  Like many assets it can be a burden too. The Brisbane River divides the city; confuses the uninitiated and sadly has been sold off in large chunks in recent decades to the highest bidder.

The best place, for mine, to start making inner Brisbane green again is to take back large parts of the river foreshore. Half a dozen bridge crossings – mostly green but a few vehicular ones too – would help matters as well.

Until next time,

Michael Matusik

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