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Lord Mayor scraps Brisbane's major urban planning advisory group

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Brisbane City Council has quietly scrapped several long-standing urban advisory boards in a significant shake-up of its relationship with the city’s planning and architecture community.

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Urban Futures Brisbane provided strategic advice on major protects in the city for nearly 15 years but its demise will pave the way for a shake up in the civic policy influence of some of the city’s high-powered architects and planners.

Civic Cabinet resolved last month to “dissolve” Urban Futures Brisbane and associated advisory boards.

The Urban Futures Board, chaired by architect Bevan Lynch, boasted some of the most influential figures in Brisbane’s business, planning and architecture communities, including former Mirvac chief and Queensland Performing Arts Trust chair Chris Freeman, architect Noel Robinson and former Property Council boss Ross Elliot.

It was heavily involved in shaping some of Brisbane’s major urban renewal and revitalisation projects.

A spokeswoman for Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the boards had been in place “a long time” and the council had decided to change the way it received advice on major planning projects.

But despite the wealth of experience on the Urban Futures Brisbane board, she said some of the skills members had were not “like for like” in relation to how the council wanted to develop the city.

“It was time to reassess the way we do things,” she said.

“Rather than pay people a salary, council decided to pay for the spent advising on a project,” she said.

She said the council would establish “panels of industry experts” to provide the advice that Urban Futures Brisbane was responsible for.

“Panel members are appointed through a procurement process, with remuneration reflective of their industry experience,” she said.

“Brisbane is one of the best cities in the world to live and it’s important Council continues to seek independent advice from a range of experts on matters such as social inclusion, design and planning.”

Lynch, who had been chair of the dissolved body since 2010, said he agreed that Urban Futures Brisbane had probably “had its day”.

“Particularly in the planning space, you’ve got to accept that nothing lasts forever,” he said.

He said he would continue to have a role in advising the council and he and former board members had been appointed to the new expert advisory panels.

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