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Green 'Grand Central': Cross River Rail unveils changes to parklands vision

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Developers of Queensland’s biggest infrastructure project, the $5.4 billion Cross River Rail, appear to have bowed to public pressure and moved to preserve more public space in its redesign of the city’s Roma Street parklands precinct.

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The Cross River Rail Delivery Authority has confirmed it will allow more public open space in a revised development plan for the area.

A new development scheme for the Roma St precinct, which will contain the state’s most most important transport interchange (dubbed Grand Central) as well as the proposed Brisbane Live arena, identifies new green areas and more affordable housing than was originally planned.

The Palaszczuk government has insisted that the development of an underground Roma St station as part of Cross River Rail is a chance to revitalise an under-used part of Brisbane into a major opportunity for private investment.

The government expects that over the next 15 years there will be nearly 4200 new residents and more than 19,700 new workers within the 32 hectare Roma Street priority development area, bounded roughly by Wickham Terrace, North Quay and College Rd.

However, the delivery authority came under fire for giving over part of the Roma St parklands which houses a public car park and Brisbane City Council maintenance depot to residential and commercial development.

The authority now says under the finalised development scheme the precinct would have more “publicly accessible open space”.

“The existing 11 hectares of publicly accessible open space within the Roma St Parklands will not only be protected forever, but will be expanded even further by more than two hectares,” the authority said in a statement.

“The development scheme also provides for new social and affordable housing as part of new residential buildings parallel to the rail corridor, adding to the existing apartment complexes along Parkland Boulevard.”

“This scheme is all about renewing one of Brisbane’s most underutilised inner-city locations while protecting and enhancing the beautiful natural features that already exist.”

The council’s planning chair Krista Adams said the changes were a “victory” for local residents who had argued against over development.

She added that the finalised plan was “a better outcome to the Labor-led proposal to take public space away from residents in favour of private development at Roma Street Parkland”.

“This plan has just been released, and we will continue to review the revisions to better understand any impacts on car parking and the onsite works depot,” she said.

“While this is a better planning outcome than the initial proposal, we remain unsupportive of the State Government skirting Council’s infrastructure charges, which have short changed Brisbane residents of more than $450 million since 2014.”

About 46,000 people each weekday are expected to use the new high-capacity underground station at Roma Street by 2036.

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