Council signs deed for Birkdale Commonwealth land

Redland City Council has signed a heads of agreement with the Australian Government to buy 61.78 hectares of Commonwealth land at Birkdale for environmental and community purposes.

Mayor Karen Williams said the $4.1m purchase provided great value for the community.

“The land at 362-388 Old Cleveland Road East is the latest significant strategic purchase of land by Council that will benefit generations of Redlands Coast residents,” Cr Williams said.

“The heads of agreement is binding on both parties and is a major step towards the land purchase and ensuring it is retained and used for conservation and community purposes.

“We will now complete due diligence and settle the purchase before consulting widely with the community on what they believe to be the best use or uses for the site.

“This land has been on our hit list for a long time, because of its size and the broad opportunities it provides for our community.

“Council resolved four years ago to seek to acquire the land.

“This is a strategic purchase, as the site is large, ideally located and suitable for community purposes. It also contains a number of European Heritage and Indigenous Cultural Heritage sites that Council will ensure are protected.

“Discussions over many years have included using the land for education, a university, recreation, sporting facilities and environmental reserves.”

The property has been in Council’s sights since 2009, when the owner, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) approached Council to gauge its interest in the site.

Council indicated a preliminary interest in acquiring the property for environmental protection and community uses.

In December 2014 ACMA announced the land was surplus to requirements and indicated its willingness to dispose of the property.

Cr Williams said Council wrote to the Commonwealth requesting it immediately rescind its decision to divest the land in 2019-20 for 400 houses, as outlined in the Federal Government 2018-19 Budget Papers.

“Council also requested the Commonwealth enter into urgent negotiations with Council to acquire the land with the intention of retaining it for community use, such as educational facilities and recreation, to protect the property’s environmental overlays and significance.

“I have lobbied the Prime Minister, presented a petition to the PM and spoken many times to Coalition and Labor politicians and bureaucrats in Canberra, telling them just how important it is that Council acquire the land and for it to be used for conservation and community purposes,” Cr Williams said.

“The years of constant lobbying, more recently to acquire the property off-market, has finally reaped huge dividends.

“We are now just a step away from settling the sale and I would like to sincerely thank the Federal Government on behalf of our Redlands Coast community for agreeing to sell to us.”

About the land:

The land falls away from its Old Cleveland Road frontage towards a tidal section of Tingalpa Creek along the southern western property boundary.

The site is predominantly covered by dense woodland with some cleared areas in the centre of the site.

The 61.78ha site comprises 72.48 per cent protected conservation area and a cleared area of 17ha of useable land available for community purposes. Most recently it was used by the Federal Government’s Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for radio communications infrastructure.

The site contains European Heritage and Indigenous Cultural Heritage sites that Council will ensure are protected.

This includes a building constructed by the American Army Corp and used to house a US Army Radio Receiving Station during WWII. The radio station is believed to have received the first message in Australia in August 1945 that the Japanese had surrendered and was used by General MacArthur while he was in Australia.

The land also includes known Aboriginal cultural heritage sites.

The land is being sold to Council for the purpose of conservation and community use.

It was an off-market sale that includes a Security of Purpose condition and a Conservation Agreement in line with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (Cwlth) Act 1999. The conservation agreement is for the conservation and management of the flora and fauna within the existing zoned conservation areas and for heritage assets (Aboriginal and European) on the land.

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