This is a copy of a letter prepared to alert residents immediately adjacent to the area affected by this proposal that the DA had been lodged. It outlines some of the major impacts the development will have on them, and Highfields more broadly, if it were to proceed as proposed.
21 August 2017
DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION FOR LAND ALONG REIS, BARRACKS AND KUHLS ROAD HAS BEEN LODGED WITH COUNCIL
Dear Reis Road resident/neighbour,
You may be aware that Clive Berghofer has purchased the parcels of land bounded by Reis, Barracks and Kuhls Rds, and the parcel between Kuhls Rd, Reis and the New England Highway (fronting Reis Road).
On 8 August, a development application was lodged with the Toowoomba Regional Council for the reconfiguration of the block between Reis Rd, Barracks Rd and Kuhls Rd into 48 blocks. This is the first 2 stages of a multi-stage development that will ultimately be comprised of 220 house blocks.
You can access the full application at the TRC website via their PD Online facility. The application reference number is RAL/2017/4108. You can also search by applications submitted in the last month, and it is on about page 5, with reference number and Reis Rd in the description.
Whilst the development of these tacts of farmland is inevitable, the proposal, if it proceeds unchallenged will change massively the landscape, the appearance of Reis and Barracks Roads and increase even more the traffic volumes on Reis Road.
Today I rang the TRC to ask to speak with a town planner about my concerns. I was told that the application is “code assessable”, and if it is found to be compliant, it will simply be approved. There is no opportunity for public comment/objection. Our only option is to make a lot of noise. To get the attention of the TRC councillors, the rest of the Highfields community and the local media. It is up to us to work hard to get some consideration for the environment, our lifestyle and our neighbourhood amenity in the approval process.
I have attached some of the key pages from the application to this letter. All are available for download at the PD Online site (see above).
Some of the key impacts identified in the proposal are as follows:
- Reis Rd will be widened to a 25m road reserve, requiring clearing of all the vegetation along the eastern side and future resumption of the southern side (where your houses are) [Appendix C, p6]The loss of these hundreds of large trees will have a devastating impact on the amenity of the Reis Rd – Barracks Rd neighbourhood, for both the people and the wildlife. The widening of the road will increase the speed and volume of traffic, further eroding our quality of life, the safety of those who travel by bike or foot, and of the wildlife.
- Removal of all the vegetation along Barracks Rd from the northern end to Kuhls Rd to allow for sewerage, a bitumen road and driveways from the development.The 2013 Local Plan (endorsed by TRC) suggests that Reis Rd have “ ‘country boulevard’ treatment – providing great amenity, shade and shelter”. Indicating that main entries to Highfields (Reis, Cawdor, Highfields Roads) should reinforce the rural aesthetic of the locality. These aspirations are NOT represented in any way in this proposal.
- There are no plans for a park in the development, which means that all the trees will be cleared from this block [Appendix B – Indicative Master Plan].
- All stormwater from the development will be piped directly into Klein Ck (at the end of Barracks Rd) [Appendix C, p7]. Although required stormwater modelling in the application shows clearly that a bioretention basis is required to reduce the pollutants and sediment that might otherwise enter the creek [Appendix C, p8-12] – the developer proposes a voluntary financial contribution of $374,000 in lieu of the retention basin.
These increased stormwater from the development (impervious roofs and roads covering a large proportion of the land), if piped directly into Klein Ck, will now meet the water being piped from the Avenues onto Reis Rd in Klein Creek. The impact on the creek in terms of erosion, pollution and impact on properties downstream has not been considered in this proposal.
In general, this development application is inconsistent with the TRC’s vision of the “unique character of Highfields” – characterised by “the natural beauty of bushland…” (Vision promoted in both the Highfields, Meringandan, Merigandan West local plan 2013, and the Highfields Masterplan 2017).
If “character trees” cannot be removed from busy roads in east Toowoomba (Hume, Bridge, Mary etc) which all carry far more traffic than Reis Rd – why can’t the Highfields “character trees” be retained? I for one would have no objection to the traffic moving more slowly along what will be a heavily populated residential street (despite its classification as a Distributor road).