Crowded houses, no green spaces: Gympie’s ugly urban sprawl
Gympie resident Noni Metzler has raised concern about the lack of dedicated green space in the many new residential developments going up around Gympie.
Here is her opinion piece:
Gympie is growing, and the Gympie Regional Council website reveals a great deal of work and concern for the future. There is a comprehensive look at Planning and Development.
‘Development’ is defined as: “Any large or small project, a new extension, building, earthworks, or larger comlex land development and or big projects”.
However, there is little detail connecting this development planning to the effect on the environment. The council’s excellent Environment Strategy, 2018-2023 stated:
“Council is committed to ensuring our region is protected and sustained through responsible environmental management.”
The Gympie Regional Council acknowledges the value of a green environment in its frequent claim that we have a ‘liveable’ city – and a place to ‘live, work and play’. It is clear that Gympie is attracting new residents and that the GRC promotes development of housing estates that are continuing to ring the older parts of the city. Is this the type of ‘development’ we want? Is it ‘green’? Is it ‘liveable?
The World Health Organisation says:
“Many urban areas face increasing pressure from expanding populations, limited resources and growing impacts of climate change. These challenges must be addressed in order for cities to provide healthy and sustainable living environments. Green spaces and other nature-based solutions offer innovative approaches to increase the quality of urban settings, enhance local resilience and promote sustainable lifestyles, improving both the health and the well-being of urban residents.
Parks, playgrounds or vegetation in public and private places are a central component of these approaches and can help to ensure that: residents are exposed to nature, that the quality of urban living is enhanced, and health and well being of residents is improved.”
A web search reveals that the population of Gympie city has risen in rounded figures from 10,000 in 1974, 20,800 in 2014, to an estimated 30,000 in 2020 – a recent amazing and rapid increase.
A drive around the city looking at the changes and the development of housing estates and the maze of new roads and houses shows that the city has certainly grown and altered. But there is much less green space. There are beautiful gardens grown by residents but very little public green space. There are also vast areas with bulldozers preparing acres of bare ground for new estates. Houses are very close together and there are no parks or green spaces or large trees planned and planted by the developers. Hopefully, Gympie will not become an ugly urban sprawl.
These photos reveal how houses in ‘developments’ are crowded together, often fenced with ugly dark wood fences and present a picture of roofs with very little green space or planned parks and facilities for outdoor activities and play. There are no trails or wooded areas. These developments are also large in area.
The GRC must step in and ensure that new housing estates will include parks, green walks and corridors before the council allows such ‘development’.
Other ideas to enhance the urban environment (from WHO):
- roadside greenery and vegetation barriers along streets or rail track
- small urban green spaces (such as gardens or pocket parks) and playgrounds
- green roofs and facades
- parks and urban meadows
- greenways and corridors (such as green trails for walking/cycling)
- coastal, riverside or lakeside trails, linking green with blue spaces
- recreational and urban gardening facilities.
The Mary River Trail is a great green success in Gympie.
Mary Street is green and just ‘asks’ for areas for outdoor dining, city parks are well maintained and Victory Heights is a welcome forest park.
But we need more careful planning especially in the outer areas of the city where houses are filling up rural residential zones. What do you think?
Noni Metzler, Jones Hill