September 2020 Newsletter
September 2020 Newsletter
Progress on Brisbane's Economic Recovery
Representatives from the Committee’s Recovery Strategy Group recently met with Cr Adam Allan, the Chair, and John Cowie, Project Director, of BCC’s Economic Recovery Taskforce to review the Committee’s recommendations on economic recovery and reform.
The meeting came the day after Council released its Economic Recovery Plan (view the Plan here) which addresses a range of matters suggested by the Committee for Brisbane.
The Committee’s engagement with Brisbane City Council, through Cr Allan’s Taskforce, has been very good and as a member of the Taskforce’s External Consultation Group we have offered to continue to contribute ideas for the city’s economic future.
Brisbane’s Economic Recovery Plan addresses a number of specific matters suggested by the Committee, including:
• Skills, training and jobs: Offer help to develop new skills, including e-commerce and financial skills, as well as provide business advice, and networking and mentoring opportunities
• Infrastructure: Stimulate the economy and create local jobs by investing in infrastructure, including bringing forward planned work and funding key priority projects.
• Building and construction: Refresh Council plans and strategies, such as the Brisbane City Centre Master Plan 2014 and the Brisbane Economic Development Plan 2012-13. Fast-track building and construction to stimulate economic activity and partner with the private sector, where possible.
We will also continue to advocate for improved support for our arts and cultural sector, including through direct grants for artists and technicians who have been left behind by the various government income support programs.
Our Vision for a Smart City and Suburbs
About a quarter of the Committee’s membership turned up for initial discussions today on Brisbane as a Smart City.
More than 30 CFB members were represented at the inaugural meeting of the Smart City and Suburbs Taskforce where we considered our Vision for a Smart City and the Taskforce’s Purpose.
There was a lot of great discussion about how a Smart City agenda needs to be focussed on the benefits to the community, and that great Smart Cities result from strong leadership and cooperation between government, business and the community.
Stay tuned for more updates from the Smart City and Suburbs Taskforce as we identify ways and means to inform, influence and support good decision-making.
Can Brisbane "walk the walk"?
Committee for Brisbane Advisory Council Member Harvey Lister is Chairman and Chief Executive of venue management company ASM Global (Asia Pacific) which is the proponent of the Brisbane Live entertainment precinct. Harvey is also a keen walker with ambitions for Brisbane as a walking city.
One of the big talking points to come out of this COVID-19 chaos has been the role of streets, bikeways, footpaths and public spaces in revitalising major city centres.
Plans are well afoot in Milan to transform 35km of street space from cars to pedestrian walkways and cycle routes. In London, cars will be limited along several major traffic arteries, allowing only buses, cyclists and pedestrians to use what were once some of the city’s busiest roads.
Meanwhile the Mayor of Paris has pledged to reshape formerly busy roads to allow for increased cycling and walking use. Pavements will be widened for terrace space, urban architecture, and newly planted trees, breathing “new air and life” into the French capital’s congested streets.
I’m a keen walker – there is so much more to appreciate about a city when you are on foot – and over the years I’ve been fortunate in my line of work to stroll around some of these great cities. I am also a passionate Brisbanite and I believe we have as good an opportunity as any to become one of the great walking cities.
At the height of the lockdown several months ago, self-isolation and work-from-home meant fewer cars on city roads. At the same time, I’d never seen so many people out walking and riding, enjoying the surroundings.
If there is any “benefit” to come out of this crisis, it’s the opportunity to reclaim the streets. I commend the vision of Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner and the Brisbane City Council for Edward St, which is evolving into Brisbane’s fashion street all the way to the City Botanical Gardens, across the new green bridge, to Kangaroo Point.
Brisbane has natural advantages in its favour. For a start, look at our spectacular weather. Brisbane is also compact – our CBD is built on a peninsula. Apart from the land in the Roma St precinct and the 20ha of airspace above it, we cannot build on any new sites – we can only change what we have or build up.
Between now and 2025, several catalytic projects are set to transform connectivity and liveability. Queen’s Wharf, Cross River Rail, the Brisbane Metro, Waterfront Brisbane, the new Victoria Park, the Brisbane Live entertainment precinct and the Council’s Green Bridges Program will revitalise the CBD like we haven’t seen for decades.
Pre-pandemic I was on a panel with Griffith University Associate Professor Matt Burke who specialises in cities research. Matt made a valid point: “We have moved a lot of businesses and residents into the inner-city but we haven’t necessarily kept up with the services”.
The only way for Brisbane to function in the future, said Matt, is to get people moving around by foot, cycle or public transportation.
“The Cross River Rail and Metro projects are absolutely fundamental,” he said.
Walkability and cyclability is not just about enjoying the sights, the weather and people getting from A to B. Great walking environments are safe, they are properly lit, in many cases the streets are widened, shaded and weather protected. They are friendly to people with disabilities and families with strollers alike, and they are surfaced to take into account people wearing heels.
All of these things make a city more attractive, and the more attractive it is the more likely it is to be economically successful. As well as the personal benefits with people travelling in a healthier, greener way, research has shown that there are proven benefits to the economy by improving pedestrianisation.
A study produced by Transport For London showed that improvements to walking and cycling could increase high street retail spend by up to 30 per cent. Over a month, people who walked to high streets spent 40 per cent more than those who drove. To put it simply, walking means business.
The wave of activity in Brisbane over the next five years will create “in-fill” opportunities between the major projects themselves and the new access points for walkers that Cross River Rail, the green bridges and the Metro will bring.
Imagine emerging from the new Roma St underground station – Brisbane’s version of “Grand Central” – onto a walkable boulevard, through Roma St, across Countess St and all the way down Caxton St to Suncorp Stadium. From here it is also an easy walk to the CBD, Queen’s Wharf, Brisbane Quarter, the Waterfront Brisbane precinct in Eagle St, Howard Smith Wharves and Victoria Park. Green bridges link you to South Bank, QPAC and the eclectic West End with the trendy West Village.
While the cloud of the coronavirus gloom has not lifted and we still have a journey to go on the road to recovery, Brisbane is a city on the right track.
My hope is that with business and all levels of government working together we will adopt policies that invest in transport and infrastructure options that mean greater connectivity, accessibility, sustainability, less traffic and less pollution.
It is not only an opportunity to build a better city life for both residents and visitors, it’s a fundamental part of the “new normal” that will ensure Brisbane has its best foot forward long after the virus is gone.
Brisbane Inner City Vitality Report
Just what impacts has COVID-19 had on our inner city? The Committee for Brisbane will present the answers with the release of its third, annual Inner-City Vitality Report in November – and start a discussion on reimaging the CBD.
This much anticipated “health report” will assess Brisbane’s Inner-City Vitality across five key indicators:
1. Commercial and residential real estate
2. Hotel stays/tourism
3. Retail activity
4. Higher education
This Report, unique in its coverage of the sectors that drive inner Brisbane’s economic engine room, will be released and discussed at a Committee for Brisbane panel discussion in mid-November.
Five panellists, experts in their area of economic contribution, will discuss the 2020 Report results as well as Brisbane’s economic recovery challenges and opportunities in a period of massive change in a post-COVID-19 city. Our panellists confirmed so far:
1. Commercial and residential real estate: Matt Beasley, Office Development Queensland, Dexus
2. Hotel stays/tourism: Alison Smith, Group Executive External Affairs, The Star Entertainment Group
3. Retail activity: TBA
4. Higher education: Robina Xavier, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Education), QUT
5. Transit/mobility: TBA
This year, the Report will take its traditional look at the central business district, include its 2019 additions of Fortitude Valley and South Bank, and expand to also assess the inner-ring suburb of Spring Hill so we have a picture of the CBD and the inner-city.
The Report will once again be produced and presented by Urban Economics from Spring Hill.
• What: Brisbane Inner-City Vitality Report release
• When: Thursday, 19 November 2020, 12pm – 2pm
• Where: Plaza Terrace Room, Brisbane Exhibition and Convention Centre
Click here Committee for Brisbane 2019 Vitality Report to have a look at the 2019 Report.
Brisbane Open House enters cultural tourism market
This month, community-loved Brisbane Open House launched its new year-round program, Brisbane Open, that offers a series of immersive and intimate experiences.
Since its launch, Brisbane Open has seen incredible demand for its exclusive tours and interactive experiences, selling out several events within days as locals look to become tourists in their own city.
To meet COVID-19 protocols, Brisbane Open tour sizes will be limited, offering safe and exclusive experiences. All proceeds from Brisbane Open events will go directly towards funding the viability of the popular and free Brisbane Open House weekend festival, to be held in July 2021.
And that’s not all – BOH is also going digital. This October and November will see Brisbane Open House, wiht the Committee for Brisbane, present its Great Debate fundraiser and a series of hot topics talks online. Stay tuned for more information at https://brisbaneopenhouse.com.au
For information on Brisbane Open cultural adventures, see the program: https://brisbaneopen.com.au/.
We welcome six new members who joined the Committee during the past month –
• EMM Consulting
• Phoenix Resilience
• Jaime Robertson
• Daniel Fahey
• Scott Douglas
• Queensland Major Contractors Association
• Community Housing Industry Association Queensland