Save Roma St Parklands

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HELP! Roma Street Parklands is under threat. 1/3 of its area (32%), is proposed to be redeveloped into apartments. More concrete, more heat, more traffic. Less trees, less wildlife, less tourists, degraded and debased COVID sanctuaries. A poorer community in body, mind and spirit.

WHAT DO WE WANT? We call on the Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk MP, to permanently protect the area and operations of Roma St Parklands for the future. The community does not want Cross River Rail's development scheme to trade green space for developer concrete.

WHY IS OUR PARK SO SPECIAL? Roma St Parklands is one of the world's finest subtropical gardens, hosting more than 2 million visitors per year and nearly 200 events (pre COVID). Some of them are Brisbane's most beloved and iconic - the Enchanted Garden, multicultural festivals for thousands of people, Shakespeare in the park and the Outdoor Cinema.

Roma St Parklands is one of only 9 gardens in Australia to have a green flag award. This award recognises publicly accessible parks and open spaces that meet best-practice standards in the green space sector. Roma St Parklands has held it since 2014 and has been voted in the top 10 parks in the world. It is both a major tourist attraction and COVID haven and backyard for inner city residents. It is a subtropical paradise replete with wildlife, events, play areas, beautiful, educational gardens and magical walking paths.

It is arguably our State's best and most spectacular botanical garden. It doesn't just have over 600 water dragons and heaps of birdlife, it has lungfish, turtles, bees that produce of 150kgs of honey a year, bats, possums, dragonflies and even the occasional pelican.

WHAT ARE WE LOSING? In summary, great big chunks of our city’s very best green space. Simply explained, all the brochures describe Roma St Parklands as a 16 hectare wonderland. The Minister has committed to protecting 11 hectares. We want the remaining space protected forever as park too.

32% of the park: Cross River Rail has been tasked with redeveloping the areas around Roma St train station into a transit hub and to facilitate Brisbane Live. It has issued a draft development scheme over an area surrounding Roma St Station that includes approximately 5 hectares of land managed by Roma St Parklands. This should and must not involve the redevelopment of park and open space. The park doesn't affect Brisbane Live and it doesn't affect 27 hectares of the rest of the area that can be developed into high rise. Developers have lots of other room to make money - but they will choose the park areas because they are the nicest areas in the whole priority development area and the cheapest to redevelop. That is a commercial reality that Cross River Rail refuses to admit.

The best bits get bulldozed: The proposed development scheme will destroy the main entry point to the Parklands at Albert St and the station. 15 storey high buildings will be permitted over sections of the main Celebration Lawn, the cafe area and beautiful garden and BBQ settings. Unlimited height buildings will be permitted to encircle the park around the station, cutting off its vistas and its light - essential to tree and plant growth, and to the many wedding photographers that carve their livelihood from its lovely spaces - and to uplifting its citizens.

South Bank and the War on Waste suffer too: Roma St Parklands operates South Bank. Our city's other most beloved inner city park space. South Bank relies on the same facilities at Roma St. Part of the space that Cross River Rail wants to sell off for apartments contains more than 40 mature trees in the old Albert St parklands area. It has an active nursery and state of the art re-use, re-cycling facilities that take the food waste from South Bank restaurants, the manure from the Ekka and RNA horse facilities, the green waste from our parks and recycles it. That supplies all the soil needs for Roma St Parklands and South Bank. It collects storm water across the park area to supply its lake and water features and acts as storage in times of drought. All of this will go for apartments. The Government says this doesn't count as parklands because it is not publicly accessible. We say that's not the test. We say it's green and the answer is to give long term security to the park so that they can open it up and improve it (the main reason some areas are not publicly accessible now is because the Government hasn't committed to the park long term).

The mighty dollar should not be the 1st priority: The development strategy is focused on Roma St Station and transit aims; not on protecting and enhancing the Parklands as a sanctuary and destination. We are losing the recognition of the Parkland as a destination and key urban space. It is becoming a transit link, being "integrated" (built over) with our very necessary, but different, concrete spaces. That’s fancy planning speak for green space objectives don’t matter as much as developer $$$s.

WHAT WILL WE GET INSTEAD OF PARK SPACE? In summary: apartments, retirement villages, commercial space and the like.

Concrete: The very centrepiece and entry point of Roma St Parklands can be dug up and replaced with apartments and transport connections as well as big slabs in the northern area. Substantially more residents and traffic will be redirected into a confined, parklands area. That conflicts with the Grammar schools, hospitals and other surrounding infrastructure as well as tourism and green space objectives. Dedicate these areas to these uses for the future, Minister. Not to apartments 12 to 15 storeys high, towering over one of our most peaceful war memorials spreading their concrete, ugly shadow.

Less community: Accessibility and views to the city will be destroyed with the associated transport and infrastructure changes. The many special needs and multicultural groups that depend on the park for their recreation will be limited in their access, potentially critically.

The area will become a "rat run" with too much traffic and new development intersecting with hundreds of commuting school children, regional bus and train passengers as well as park visitors and existing residents. The enrichment of our broader community is reduced all in the quest for a $$$.

PLEASE SIGN URGENTLY! We are all diminished when we lose spaces like this. Our society is poorer, meaner, more insular, less connected. Once we lose this green space to more concrete, we will never get it back. Our cities are getting hotter, noisier and more congested. We need sanctuaries like Roma St Parklands more than ever.

This is an opportunity to upgrade our inner city spaces; to send a message to our children and our visitors about open space, beauty, recycling, wildlife, multiculturalism and the future. We can support the Olympics and large cultural events through Brisbane Live without this. Vast amounts of high rise can be built in the remaining areas of the Cross River Rail footprint. The way we redevelop Roma Street Station should send a message to the world about our values and the way we treasure our liveable city.

We are custodians, not just users of these spaces. We do not need to vandalise and degrade what we already have to improve or deliver adjacent facilities. Please, tell the Minister that Roma Street Parklands - all of it - is not the place for more concrete and transport facilities.

(Photo with thanks to Kgbo - Wikimediacommons)