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September 30, 2015

Environment Groups Censure Queensland State Government Casino Plan


Queens Wharf Brisbane is the home of government precinct of Brisbane, and the Queensland State Government recently proposed to rebuild it to open a casino resort worth $2 billion. The proposal was open until September 21, 2015 for public comments.

In response to the same, taking a commendable step, Peak built environment associations – which comprise the Queensland Chapters of the Australian Institute of Architects and the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, and the Urban Design Alliance – denounced the plan as well as the lately introduced Government Precinct-related planning scheme through a letter to them.

Reports said that the Queens Wharf-related proposal put many issues at risk for Brisbane. Before even it could complete a decade of its development, it would disappear to become not more than a memory. Since, the same was being overshadowed by a commanding tower in progress at No 1 William Street. Besides, there were new bridges, housing towers, hotel towers, commercial towers, and now a casino across from the government constructions.

More than an ancient Treasury, it would turn into a shopping mall. Since, new public spaces, a sky walk, and riverside parks were also on plans.

Brisbane Treasury casino, 130 William Street
Brisbane Treasury casino, 130 William Street

As revealed, the issues are more about location, size, and delivery than bringing about the change. Nonetheless, these are indispensable for the development of a great city. Government Precinct has been chosen for it is the historic heart of the state that owns nationally significant buildings. The precinct itself is enough to narrate the story of Queensland government. But, the business now is likely to be conducted in a casino resort with its extra 7,000 cars.

Brisbane competes with numerous cities on global grounds, which take into consideration the idea of precinct. Precincts are understandable at human level and help in making sense of huge contemporary cities. Among these, Melbourne and Sydney, both of which own hotels, shopping precincts, casinos, have exclusive government precincts. Nevertheless, it is acknowledged in these cities that each precinct has a correct location.

The main issue is of juxtaposition i.e. the government should be closer to big business or gambling. Another issue is there are no civic places in Queens Wharf which indicate government purpose. This probably tells people that they had a less place at government’s seat as compared to their place at a shopping centre or a gambling table. And when it comes to city-making, what matters more is the location.

Further, the question is why the size of casinos and shops needs to be big. This may overshadow the historic fabric while removing some parts of the same, for example, the streets. In comparison to Brisbane, the cities that it overdoes make sure that their historic districts are kept safe while they develop further. Surely, they make developments, but they care about the locations too. Also, they take care of the size which may prove destructive for ambience.

However, the government insists that this kind of development means protection of more public properties while new public assets are created. But, the other cities make sure that they do not touch their historic places for new developments. Thus, it remains unclear how Brisbane stands apart from the crowd. It is clear from possible consequences that post-industrial sites like Kurilpa or Roma Street are far more appropriate for the new casino precinct.

Now that Queen’s Wharf is a vast project and is largely owned in terms of open spaces, roads, and streets by Queenslanders, they must know how the new development would prove a good investment. The question arises how the public interest will remain secured. Maybe a project partner leaves. Whether or not a specialist delivery authority would be there to report frequently on publicly defined outcomes? Nevertheless, the answers are not satisfactory.

And of course, the expectations of Queensland’s professionals with regard to the historic hearts of their cities are high. They want any changes to be of superior quality. But how would that be achieved is a big concern. In the main time, Echo Entertainment won the bid for Destination Brisbane Consortium that will stretch from Queen Street to Alice Street.


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