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Major Projects Fast-Tracked to Boost Pandemic-Hit Economy

Infrastructure Projects Qld Pandemic – The $360bn Construction sector has a crucial role to play in helping Australia’s economy survive the economic effects of COVID-19. Cutting the red tape and fast-tracking projects would provide an immediate boost to employment and economic output.

There a number of States ready to pull the trigger on ‘shovel-ready’ projects, aiming to prop up the struggling development industry now and well into the future. A newly formed high-level planning taskforce in Victoria has given the green light for $3.5bn in new developments, followed closely by NSW’s $7.5bn list of fast-tracked projects delivering more than 9,000 jobs and 4,000 new dwellings. In Queensland, the Palaszczuk government has also called for public and private projects to be put forward for fast-tracked funding.

Brisbane’s Burgeoning Development Pipeline

Brisbane is fast becoming a city of mega projects, with over $20 billion worth of major development projects currently underway.

Toowong Town Centre
Figure 1. Toowong Town Centre
  • Cross River Rail ($5.4bn)
  • Queen’s Wharf ($3.6bn)
  • RNA Showgrounds ($2.9bn)
  • Eagle Street Pier ($2.1bn)
  • Brisbane Live ($2bn)
  • Millennium Square ($2bn)
  • Brisbane Racing Club ($1.2bn)
  • Brisbane Quarter ($1bn)
  • Brisbane Metro ($944m)
  • 80 Ann Street ($836m)

In addition to the State’s $49.5bn transport commitment, there are a number of sizeable residential masterplans and commercial precincts in the pipeline. Many developers are also capitalising on the current market and announcing large scale projects such as the newly proposed $450m Toowong Town Centre. The major mixed-use development opposite Toowong Village will transform the underutilised commercial and transport hub, providing a 16-storey office tower and a 25-storey apartment block with 148 apartments and a variety of facilities (Figure 1).

Inner Brisbane will see the city skyline broadened by projects such as Bureau Proberts’ luxury full-floor riverfront residences in Kangaroo Point (Figure 2) and the next Residential Tower in Mirvac’s $1 billion Waterfront Newstead Precinct (Figure 3). Further out, the largest infill development site within 10km of the CBD recently transacted for $31m with approval for a aster planned community featuring 700 homes, retail space and parks over 49 hectares (Figure 4).

Government agency, Economic Development Queensland (EDQ), has also fast-tracked construction at their Carseldine Village (<16km of CBD) with an initial $8.9m contract awarded to Shadforth, one of Queensland’s largest family-owned civil contracting companies. Over the next 3-5 years, the project will deliver over 600 dwellings, aged care facilities to complement the new $6.5m sport and recreation precinct.

Market Outlook

New home sales and housing finance data indicates the housing market reached a turning point mid-way through 2019. The momentum building up in the residential property market is feared to have been all but halted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even without a government shut-down order, wide scale supply chain disruption and rising uncertainty saw construction sector activity, employment and demand slump to record lows during April. The latest Housing Industry Association Australian Performance of Construction Index dropped by 16.3 points to 21.6 in April, the weakest overall performance for the construction industry since the survey began in 2005.

Despite the short-term slump and medium-term impacts, infrastructure investment and major projects will continue to drive growth well into the future, exemplified by the practical completion of Brisbane Airport’s new $1.1bn runway after 8 years. However, there is much more to do to ease the pressures of population growth, catalyse development and enable our businesses to compete on a global stage. The commencement and future completion of this unprecedented number of major public and private projects will see the Australian economy rebound post-pandemic and lead a new growth phase for Brisbane.

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