By Natalie Rayment
‘First things first. Get the champagne,’ said Winston Churchill in 1931. It’s time to celebrate a win for good development outcomes in Brisbane. Earlier this week, the submitter appeal against Brisbane City Council’s decision to approve the Grace on Coronation development was all but dismissed.
It’s a win for good development outcomes in Brisbane for three important reasons: community dividend, design excellence and sustainability.
For decades, the site at Toowong has been inaccessible to the public. The approval of Grace on Coronation unlocks 130m of river frontage previously unavailable to the community. It will also open half of the site to the public. The unique tapered building design helps to create more open space at the ground level as well as open up view corridors and minimises the bulk and scale of the buildings.
The design excellence of the project is such that it will put Brisbane on the architectural tourism map. Its organic, sculptural form is unlike anything Brisbane has seen before. The design is inspired by the site’s unique location on the river’s edge and responds to the developer’s vision to create an urban park.
The genius behind the contemporary architectural design is non-other than the late Dame Zaha Hadid. She was the first woman and the first Muslim to be awarded the heralded Pritzker Prize for architecture. Grace on Coronation is also the first of only three Australian projects to be designed by the legendary architect.
As well as iconic architecture, the development creates community dividend by making the heritage listed building, Middenbury House, a focal point of the site. The heritage listed building and its two heritage listed fig trees will be retained. The building will be restored and opened up to the public, intended as a restaurant, art gallery or community facility.
It’s surely going to be a popular place to be as it will be within walking distance of the Toowong railway station, the Regatta Ferry Terminal and bus stops serviced by high frequency services. This is also a plus for sustainability as the site’s easy access to public transport and amenities may help to decrease private vehicle usage and travel times.
For workers and students who commute via Brisbane’s busiest bikeway their ride is about to be improved. A new section of dedicated bikeway will be created through the development site linking the Bicentennial Bikeway with Archer Street. No longer will cyclists travelling through Toowong have to brave the existing narrow and often in peak time, chaotic space along the footpaths of Coronation Drive.
With all the benefits that this development brings, it is no wonder that the Planning and Environment Court effectively said Yes In My Backyard to Grace on Coronation. “On balance, I am satisfied that there are sufficient grounds, in the public interest, to approve the proposed development notwithstanding conflict with the planning scheme,” said Judge Rackemann earlier this week.
This is how performance based town planning works. The focus is on quality outcomes instead of a set of tightly prescribed controls where the mindset is limited to designing only for what is considered good enough to pass. So, raise your glasses, I’d like to make a toast to performance based planning and to more good development outcomes like this being realised in our city!