IN THE MEDIA
Retailers call on governments to end to empty shops crisis
Brian Bennion, South-East Advertiser, March 10, 2020
The owner of an iconic Stones Corner shop has called for governments to intervene to stop the demise of suburban shopping precincts after closing in the face of high rents. Milano Gelateria closed its doors on Monday after five years in Stones Corner.
Shop owner Camilla Peverati said they did not renew the Stones Corner lease because they could not continue to operate without lower rent and called on governments to do something to address the crisis facing the retail sector.“The problem is Australia-wide,” Mrs Peverati said. “People shouldn’t be allowed to speculate on property that they can’t afford. In Italy if you own more than one property you pay extra taxes, especially if it’s empty. Here, you pay less taxes when you leave a property empty because of negative gearing.” Milano Gelateria still has a shop in the main street of Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast.
Greens candidate for Coorparoo Sally Dillon met with Mrs Peverati at the gelato shop last week and has called for council to come up with a solution to the end the property vacancy crisis. Ms Dillon said the shop was the latest to close its doors due to unsustainable rents and inflexible lease agreements and said the empty shopfronts would hurt surrounding businesses. “Losing Milano is going to be a real blow to the area, as so many people come here just for an ice cream, but then drop into other shops in the strip at the same time. Losing Milano is bad for local business and it’s bad for the community,’ she said.
Ms Dillon said The Greens would introduce a residential and commercial vacancy levy to provide incentives to landlords to lower rents on homes and retail spaces to make them more affordable.
“Right now landlords can make a tax loss if they have vacant property, so there’s no incentive to keep tenants by lowering rent,” she said.
Ms Dillon said introducing a commercial and residential vacancy levy would help tackle the problem of empty shopfronts in Stones Corner, Coorparoo and Greenslopes, and would ensure that there were more homes for people who needed them.“Right now, Brisbane’s suburban shopping strips have about 12 per cent of shops vacant, which is terrible for surrounding businesses,” she said.
Ms Dillon said the initiative would introduce a 5 per cent annual levy on capital-improved value, charged to owners who have deliberately left homes, land and commercial properties vacant for more than six months of any 12-month period.
The Greens also propose that the council looks at repurposing untenanted commercial spaces by acting as an intermediary, guaranteeing a licence agreement for arts and community groups to use vacant commercial spaces for fixed periods.
Brisbane tower halted to give crowded school more growing room
By Tony Moore, Brisbane Times, February 27, 2020
A planned 20-storey apartment tower right next to the "at capacity " Buranda State School will not proceed after the Queensland Government and the developer reached an agreement. Parents who had opposed the development for almost a decade cried when local MP Jackie Trad made the announcement at the Woolloongabba school on Thursday morning.
... Buranda parent, former school P&C Association president, and now Greens candidate Sally Dillon said the decision showed persistent communities could fight overdevelopment.
"We, the Better Buranda community group and the school's P&C Association, have been pressuring the state government not to sell that land to the developer," Ms Dillon said. "And that is what has happened.
Brisbane council election 2020: Greens want waste vouchers for tenants
February 27, 2020
In the lead-up to next month’s Brisbane City Council election, the Greens have hatched a plan to shake up the system of waste vouchers for ratepayers. WASTE vouchers would be sent directly to the tenants of properties instead of their landlords, under a Greens plan to make dumping rubbish cheaper for renters.
The Greens’ candidate for Paddington ward Donna Burns will unveil the plan today, arguing that the vouchers were currently difficult or impossible to obtain for many renters in Brisbane. “We believe these vouchers should be allocated to the property itself, rather than the landlord,” she said. “It should be cheap and simple for everyone to access council’s resource recovery centres.
“Renters are often responsible for maintaining their property, and being able to remove rubbish fairly and easily will benefit all of us and will reduce kerbside dumping.”
Brisbane City Council currently asks landlords to pass the vouchers on to their tenants for use.
Ms Burns said the Greens would also call for a free green waste bin for everyone, which would be allocated to the property.
She did not put a cost on the plan, but it currently costs residents about $84 a year to have a green bin. Council recently scrapped the sign-on fee of $30. “The amount of inappropriate waste filling up our landfill is enormous and we can reduce this significantly by giving our communities more bin options,” Ms Burns said. “Not only would council be able to make more money from selling greater amounts of organic mulch, but we would also be reducing our emissions.”
The Greens have called on Brisbane City Council to ask the State Government for a lease on the old Drift restaurant site at Milton.
Brendan O’Malley, Westside News, February 17, 2020
Candidate for Paddington ward Donna Burns put out the challenge on Monday and launched an online petition.
“The Drift platform has lain vacant and in disrepair since it was damaged in the 2011 flood,” she said.
“For nine long years the people of Brisbane have had to put up with an unsightly, dangerous structure on one of the most popular and picturesque stretches of the Brisbane River.
“I’ve been consulting with locals about what they want to see there and they are coming up with great ideas, like a coffee stop for cyclists, a micro park, shaded picnic spots, a kids’ play area or markets.”
State Greens MP for the area, Michael Berkman, said he had written to local State MP, Kate Jones, the Minister responsible, Anthony Lynham, and Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner, asking them to co-operate to open it up for public use.
Real news, honest views. Stay informed with Sky News Australia. Watch or stream live on Foxtel.
“I’ve written to the State member for the area Kate Jones, the Minister responsible Anthony
Lynham, and the Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner, urging them to work together to transform the
site into an asset for public use,” Mr Berkman said.
“I’m really disappointed to see both levels of government dragging their feet over this issue. “The people of Brisbane just want to see it dealt with now.
“My recent community vote about buying back the former ABC site to create a riverside park
showed enormous support for more public green space in this area, and the Drift site would be a welcome addition.”
The matter has been a political football almost since the restaurant was swept away from its moorings in the 2011 floods, with the State Government and Council insisting the problem lay with each other.
The political Mexican standoff is reminiscent of the debacle over the once majestic Broadway Hotel near The Gabba, which is now in a shocking state of dilapidation as both levels of government blame each other for failing to insist it be repaired.
Greens commit to doubling infrastructure charges
February 13, 2020
The Greens are committing to doubling infrastructure charges for residential development in inner-city wards, to raise $305 million annually for public services and facilities... The current infrastructure charges levied by the council was capped by the state government at $20,000 for one- or two-bedroom dwellings and $28,000 for dwellings with three or more bedrooms.
Greens councillor Jonathan Sri said developer contributions had not increased to match the rising cost of delivering footbridges, pedestrian crossings, public transport and parks.
Greens councillor calls for ban on flood-prone Brisbane development
January 22, 2020
Private development should be blocked from Brisbane's inner-city flood plain and such land should be converted to parkland, the Greens say. Gabba ward councillor Jonathan Sri is calling for a ban on for-profit residential, commercial and mixed-used developments that fall within Brisbane City Council's river and creek flood planning areas.
Greens demand closure of Mount Coot-tha Quarry in five years
December 4, 2019
The Greens are calling for the closure of Mount Coot-tha Quarry by 2025 and a full plan for its rehabilitation to released by the end of 2020. Maiwar MP Michael Berkman on Wednesday joined Greens candidates for the coming Brisbane City Council election in calling for the quarry, opened in the 1920s, to be transformed into a community recreation area.
Push for former ABC site at Toowong to be turned into a park
February 28, 2019
The Queensland government should investigate buying the former ABC site at Toowong and turning it into a public park, Greens MP Michael Berkman says.
It comes as the developers of the site, Sunland, are considering a new project for the riverside land after a resident's challenge to a proposed "champagne flute" apartment towers development was upheld last year.
Questions raised over council's $192 million spend
September 10, 2017
“A frequent complaint from residents of inner-city suburbs such as West End is that infrastructure charges collected from major development projects go into general revenue rather than being spent locally in the suburbs most directly impacted by rapid densification,” Cr Sri said.
Council candidates find solutions to counter empty shops
Brian Bennion, South-East Advertiser, February 7, 2020
EMPTY shopfronts have become a key issue for the southeast suburbs in the upcoming Brisbane City Council election with problems at Bulimba’s Oxford Street, Stones Corner and Westfield Carindale making headlines. LNP Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner announced a Suburban Shopfront Activation initiative yesterday, giving emerging businesses an opportunity to set up in empty shopfronts and bring new life to the suburbs. Cr Schrinner said the council would match property owners with temporary tenants and offer incentives of $2000 to help emerging businesses cover a temporary shop fit-out, visual merchandising and leasing costs and to owners of vacant shopfronts as an incentive to make their space available for short-term leases or lower rent. Cr Schrinner said registrations were now open for property owners and interested tenants to express interest in being matched and receive the $2000 incentive.
The Greens also announced a policy to introduce a vacancy levy to provide incentives to landlords to lower rents on homes and retail spaces to make them more affordable to tenants. The initiative would introduce a 5 per cent annual levy on capital-improved value, charged to owners who deliberately left homes, land and commercial properties vacant for more than six months of any 12-month period.
In January Labor’s mayoral candidate Patrick Condren revisited the party’s policy to scrap the footpath dining tax and announced a new “suburban taskforce” addressing parking and precinct improvements.