Southeast Queensland is on the cusp of morphing into a single Megacity, with Brisbane in the middle of a Manhattan-style growth spurt and the lines blurring between the capital and the Gold and Sunshine coasts.
Construction cranes are filling the Brisbane skyline while new satellite suburbs will combine to make Queensland home to Australia’s newest megacity within 35 years, when the “capital city” zone spread over a large swath of southeast Queensland by 2050.
Data provided by Brisbane City Council showed there were currently 35 projects under construction in the inner-city zone, with that activity set to double with 40 more residential-linked projects in the wings.
“What we’re now seeing is an Australian conurbation where you have three cities all merging into one,” the nation’s leading demographer Bernard Salt told The Courier-Mail.
“Brisbane will double by 2050 to more than four million people. It will become the size of Melbourne by mid century. The Sunshine Coast will go from 300,000 to 600,000, the Gold Coast will double to 1.2 million.
“It will create a broad conurbation somewhere around the size of Sydney stretching from Noosa all the way to Coolangatta. There would be five to six million people spread over that 200km working as a one system.”
He cited the New York Tri-State area as the world’s most famous conurbation, and while Brisbane was not in that league, Mr Salt said the “Manhattanisation” of the capital was already under way.
The CBD alone was expected to see 50 new buildings in the current planning period, according to Brisbane City Council planning committee chairman Amanda Cooper.
“The city’s economy is predicted to grow significantly over the next two decades, with demand for office, residential and hotel spaces in the city centre expected to translate into around 50 new buildings,” Cr Cooper said.
Most of the construction was in Newstead/Teneriffe at the moment — where 12 multistorey residential developments were currently being built — from eight to 25 storeys.
Fortitude Valley, with six projects under construction, is set for a spike in activity with 17 buildings approved, awaiting start dates.
Demand was so high that Luke Hartman, chief executive of developer Metro Property — which has three stages under way in Newstead Central — has accelerated stage 4 for release next month.
He has seven towers under construction in Brisbane, totalling 1707 apartments.
The ripple effects of that type of surge was rubbing off on a multitude of inner city suburbs including West End, South Brisbane, Milton, Toowong, Kangaroo Point, Woolloongabba and Coorparoo.
Master Builders Queensland deputy executive director Paul Bidwell said there was also excitement on the fringes, where there were signs of blurred lines developing between regions.
“Greenfield developments including Yarrabilba, Springfield, Redlands, Coomera, Pimpama are the links,” Mr Bidwell said.
“They’re where the opportunity is and where the growth is expected to come from and tie it all together. I’m no planner but it would reinforce this idea that we’ve got this conurbation going already,”
He said builders expected about 43,000 dwellings to go up in Queensland this year, a level not seen since the heyday just before the global finance crisis in 2007/08.
“We’re back. We think in 2016/17 and 17/18 it will still stay above 40,000, primarily because we’ll still have that population growth. As long as employment holds.”
Mr Bidwell said there was good work out there for builders.
Mr Salt said the SEQ conurbation would not mean that councils would be forced to merge, but it did require longer-term thinking and co-operation between them, ideally adopting a world city-type thinking with 30-year plans.