University of Queensland architecture lecturer Andrew Wilson, with Professor Andre Loeckx of the University of Leuven in Belgium and PhD student Janina Gosseye.
University of Queensland architecture lecturer Andrew Wilson, with Professor Andre Loeckx of the University of Leuven in Belgium and PhD student Janina Gosseye. Tanya Easterby

World leading planners to help chart our future, for free

A WORLD leading team of regional planners from two universities on opposite sides of the globe has offered to help Gympie chart its own unique and exciting future, from the beach to the Mary Valley.

And it will not cost ratepayers a cent.

Andre Loeckx, professor emeritus at the world's second oldest university, KU Leuven in Belgium, has joined forces with the University of Queensland in a multi-national research and training project aimed at helping Gympie preserve its unique and valuable attributes into the future.

"We can look at the coast around Tin Can Bay and say we have unspoiled coastline which can and should be different from what has happened on the Sunshine Coast and to the north," Prof Loeckx said in Gympie yesterday.

"You have a necklace of small to middle sized cities and towns from Noosa and the Mary Valley to Gympie and Maryborough and Hervey Bay.

"It reminds me of Flanders, where Brussels is the only major city and the others are smaller cities and towns bound together by infrastructure, but remaining quite separate."

He called in to the Gympie Regional Council planning department with one of his PhD students Janina Gosseye and University of Queensland architecture lecturer Andrew Wilson.

Prof Loeckx says he is amazed at the ignorance of many planning students in Brisbane, saying they seem to have no interest in Queensland, other than Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

"The rest is all just bush to them," he said.

And for those wondering why one of the world's most eminent regional planners is so interested in Gympie, the answer is a personal one.

His daughter, Dr Malika Loeckx lives here.

FLOODS are not all there is to the Gympie region, but they have made a big impression on internationally regarded regional planner Andre Loeckx, from the Centre for Human Settlement at the University (KU) of Leuven, in Belgium.

"I visit Gympie for selfish reasons; family reasons," he said yesterday at the Southside home of his daughter, Malika, a Gympie GP.

So it is personal, and further proof of Gympie's incredibly helpful links around the world.

"I visited at Christmas and holiday time and we were met by floods in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

"So I am interested in this levee idea, although it will only protect part of the CBD."

The professor has put together a research team from his university and UQ, and team members are keen to work for and in co-operation with the Gympie community as a research project that will cost us nothing.

His planning teams have carried out projects in Kenya, Morocco, Cuba, Thailand and Vietnam, working with the United Nations to help communities make the most of their assets in their own way.

"We don't work without the involvement of the communities, their citizens and their councils.

"At the coast we have beach areas with potential to be different from what has happened at the Sunshine Coast and to the north.

"There are mountains, including large areas of parkland and in Gympie flood prone areas provide landscape opportunities."

The team plans to meet with members of the Gympie community next week.

Gympie Times


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