All future developments in Highfields must preserve the character of our community.
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Again, it is time to speak up and defend Highfields against the type of development that is destroying its unique character.
No one is against progress, but development needs to be done in an accountable and measured manner.
Our status as a “Garden City” is at stake, particularly when you consider that now most house blocks now are covered with “House” and there is no room for mature trees. The very environment that draws people to Highfields is at risk of disappearing forever.
Our petition seeks the following commitments from Council;
- Proactive behaviours when examining housing applications
- Environmental impact studies that will include vegetation, animal and bird life, water distribution
- Effects on infrastructure to be considered before permission is given, including the effect of a widened road on car speed and the volume of traffic entering and leaving the distributor road when the only option to join traffic is to back onto the road.
- Consultation with community including face to face meetings
- Prioritisation of the safety of pedestrians and cyclists (particularly school children) travelling through our community
- Wider advertising of changes to zoning and current applications before Council
- The inclusion of park lands for community usage in all housing estates
- Dropping of the “code assessable” element in land use applications and all applications to be looked at with the filters previously listed
- Consideration of different types of housing development, including cluster housing with green spaces surrounding multiple dwellings. The footprint of the house would be smaller, plumbing and sewerage would be reduced and the green space would be sufficiently large to accommodate larger trees.
The reason we seek these changes is best demonstrated by the current issues surrounding the proposed Reis/Kuhls Rd development currently being assessed by the TRC.
You can read more about the Reis Rd development proposal at www.highfieldsdefenders.org
The Reis/Kuhls/Barracks Rd development is typical of what has been the norm in Highfields over the past decade. The developers remove all vegetation from the estate, clearfelling the iconic gum trees, displacing wildlife, and offering small blocks that simply can't accommodate the replanting of similar vegetation. The impact of this development will change the appearance and livability of this neighbourhood significantly (increased traffic, noise, loss of visual amenity, loss of environment and wildlife, increased stormwater flows).
The large eucalypts so characteristic of Highfields are decades old, some over 150 years old. Some areas in East Toowoomba have managed to combine trees that are well over 180 years old with closely spaced housing. If they can do it, why can’t we?
Under the current regime, trees are seen as nuisance rubbish by developers, and the TRC does not even have tree preservation legislation in place that can halt, or slow this incremental destruction of what the Highfields community values so highly.
We must take a stand and demand that the Toowoomba Regional Council approves only developments that preserve and enhance the character of Highfields - starting with the Reis Road proposal. Without change, it is inevitable that Highfields continue to lose its character. There are substantial areas of land to the north of Highfields that are already owned by developers and will inevitably be developed for high density housing in the future (Cronin Rd, Cabarlah Park Rd, Barracks Rd).
The environment can co-exist with development. With good planning, the residents of new urban developments in Highfields can enjoy living alongside nature as the residents in the established areas have had the opportunity to do. However, if we don't act now, and developers are allowed to continue to do what is most profitable and convenient for them, we will lose the opportunity to continue to grow our community in the way we want it to grow.
The Reis Road development will destroy the wildlife corridors along Reis and Barracks Roads. These corridors link the escarpment to Klein Creek and to the Rogers Reserve. Without mature trees and understory plants, these animals will disappear from Highfields altogether. Birds and mammals need the hollows of mature trees to nest, and koalas and possums are at risk from cars, cats and dogs if they have to leave the trees. Without these connecting corridors, the Rogers Reserve and Klein Creek become isolated and unsustainable habitat for wildlife. When they are gone, the Highfields community will be poorer for their loss.
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