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Time for an industrial revolution? WCG reflects on ‘Our Productive City: Brisbane’s Industrial Future’.


This week, on 21 June 2021, Brisbane City Council released Our Productive City: Brisbane’s Industrial Future - a draft strategy document that will eventually supersede the Brisbane Industrial Strategy 2019. Wolter Consulting Group has reviewed the draft of the new proposed strategy against the backdrop of the current (2019) strategy and identified key elements that will guide the development and ongoing operation of Brisbane’s industrial areas.

The Brisbane Industrial Strategy 2019 (‘the Strategy’) contains a number of key themes, including:

  • Industrial activity as a strong contributor to employment;
  • Industrial land as a finite resource requiring protection;
  • Industrial trends toward increased mechanisation, leading to increased floor area requirements; and
  • New investment being directed toward high value, customised products.

Although a policy document, the Strategy includes direct links to the Brisbane City Plan 2014, specifically to the pressures on land in the industry zones and Council’s policy on how this is to be managed. The Strategy includes a range of actions that are required to support Council’s policy position, a number of which have already been implemented.

Over the life of the Strategy, Wolter Consulting Group (WCG) has identified trends of Council in the consideration and assessment of development proposals involving land in the various industry zones. These include:

  • Overall support for traditional industrial uses in existing industrial zones, supporting high (and increasing) market demand for contemporary, well-located transport / logistics / warehousing operations.
  • Some resistance to the establishment of businesses which primarily rely upon traditional industrial activities, but also include secondary commercial aspects.
  • General reluctance to entertain land uses that do not align with the traditional definition of ‘industry’.
  • Rigidity in the approach to dealing with land in industrial zones where the traditional use has fallen away, most notably in the ‘Strategic Inner City Industrial Areas ’(‘SICIAs’).

Our Productive City: Brisbane’s Industrial Future (‘the draft Strategy’) indicates an evolution of Council’s policy position. In particular, the theme of protecting and preserving industrial land has evolved to acknowledging that, while industrial land remains a finite resource, it is imperative that Brisbane’s industrial economy is allowed to transform through support for a wider range of uses that do not fit the traditional industry mould.

The draft Strategy recognises the existing and potential value of the ‘knowledge economy’, where intellectual property is the key driver of value, rather than natural resources or labour. These uses are identified as including ‘high value niche manufacturing’, such as biotechnology, biomedical and bioengineering.

Ultimately, the focus of the draft Strategy is toward generating value from Brisbane’s industrial land, rather than simply treating it as a commodity.

Interestingly, the measure of value has shifted from a simple metric of employment numbers, as referenced in the Brisbane Industrial Strategy 2019, to the more sophisticated metric of gross regional product in the draft Strategy.

Key specific policy shifts in the draft Strategy include:

  • SICIAs becoming ‘Urban Enterprise Areas’, where economic and employment activity is clustered around Brisbane’s knowledge corridor, with workers benefiting from high levels of amenity through:
  • Public spaces;
  • High quality movement infrastructure;
  • Mutually supportive land use mix including cafes, retail spaces, community facilities and potential some opportunities for residential development, in conjunction with low / no impact industrial activities;
  • Built form including ‘vertical integration ’/ ‘horizontal integration ’to facilitate multiple uses on the same site, maximising the utility value of the land.
  • Increased emphasis on ‘placemaking ’as a driver of the overall value of Brisbane’s industrial land, rather than a simple focus on the preservation and protection of the land.
  • A shift in the balance of demand for industrial land toward transport / logistics / mass manufacturing and away from higher-impacting uses.

WCG supports the transformative, value and design driven approach to the administration of Brisbane’s industrial land through Our Productive City: Brisbane’s Industrial Future, and looks forward to its implementation through planning scheme amendments and further evolution of the Transport Plan for Brisbane.  While implementation is often the biggest challenge, we hope the draft Strategy will promote the growth and development of industry in Brisbane, by continuing to support traditional industrial development while also recognising innovation and the integration of complementary uses as drivers of value.

by Michael Dargusch - Associate Director of Planning, Wolter Consulting Group


Thumbnail Image Source & Link to the draft Strategy.