12 January, 2022
Council weighs up options
The future of the Toowoomba Region’s growth remains up in the air as Councillors have voted for more community consultation following a Special Meeting of Council last month on the proposed Toowoomba Region Growth Plan.
The Toowoomba Region Growth Plan, prepared by PSA Consulting, put forward two options - Convenience and New Communities.
The Convenience option prioritises “the high level of convenience that residents currently experience and value” whereas the New Communities option prioritises “accommodating growth through a greater focus on expansion beyond current urban areas.”
PSA Consulting and Council officers preferred the first option.
During the meeting, Deputy Mayor Geoff McDonald proposed a motion that more community engagement should be sought due to the low level of responses registered thus far.
The motion passed 8-3.
CAMBOOYA AND WYREEMA
The plan categorised Cambooya and Wyreema as growing communities situated in a rural setting within easy travel distance to Toowoomba City.
It anticipates a population growth of around 1,300 people and an increase in dwellings of around 550 between the two towns.
It is anticipated in the plan that “new growth in Cambooya and Wyreema will be accommodated in
keeping in with the existing character of houses on mid to large sized lots with limited take up of attached housing such as townhouses or duplexes.”
The report also identified the easy commuting distance to Toowoomba has led to a lack of significant retail and commercial uses in Wyreema.
Community feedback gathered for the Toowoomba Region Growth Plan shows that residents have a strong desire to see more infrastructure investment in the town by Toowoomba Regional Council.
The plan categorises Westbrook as “a growing community just outside Toowoomba City with a residential character that reflects the modern residential estates that have been developed in response to demand for new homes in areas with easy access to Toowoomba City.”
Along with Highfields, Westbrook is an important part of future development plans for Toowoomba, with some plans estimating a total population of 30,000 by 2050.
A survey conducted for the Toowoomba Region Growth Plan found Westbrook, in particular, was “identified as needing a significant increase in infrastructure investment to meet the requirements of the existing population.”
A large number of Westbrook residents had completed the survey when compared to residents of other towns and suburbs.
The plan found participants’ comments reflected the depth of frustration among residents at a lack of footpaths, services, shopping, and adequate public transport connections to this fast-growing area.
The main issue survey respondents had was that more people want to move out to Westbrook but there is a need for more community facilities.
More schools, childcare medical services and shops are needed to grow the area or there will be a significant risk of it stagnating.
A workshop for business and the development industry held in November last year, attended by 29 people, found that Westbrook offered a greater potential for growth than had been previously identified.
The report from the workshop stated:
- Many viewed Westbrook as an area with good growth potential as there is availability, demand and providing infrastructure is fairly straight forward.
- Several participants thought that Westbrook should be developed but thought that Council was roadblocking that growth.
According to the plan, new growth is anticipated to be accommodated through the traditional house and land package.
“However there is also potential for a variety of new housing choices to be delivered in Westbrook to create walkable communities in areas close to the existing local centre,” the plan says.
“The logical expansion beyond the current urban area of Westbrook to the west and north provides potential to accommodate a significant number of new dwellings that would contribute to a larger and potentially more complete community at Westbrook with access to new services and facilities that are attracted to service the larger population”.
“This expansion needs to be weighed against the resulting encroachment into land identified as quality agricultural land, as well as, against the level of investment required to support new and upgraded infrastructure particularly as it relates to water supply networks hence this potential growth area has been shown as requiring further investigation.”
Out of the two proposals, the Convenience Option would see a higher proportion of attached dwellings compared to the New Communities Option.