Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Friends of the Toowoomba Range


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When a community challenges its elected representatives

On January 11th we attended a public meeting to join the protest against a Toowoomba Range development that would change the nature of a highly visible part of our town and diminish liveability values of an area close to where we live—the background of the protest and personal reflections on the meeting follow…

St Lukes Church - Toowoomba Range Public Meeting  Photo: Doug Spowart

St Lukes Church – Toowoomba Range Public Meeting ………Photo: Doug Spowart

At a special meeting of the Toowoomba Regional Council on December 21st approval was given to a major commercial development at the ‘Top of the Range’—the main road transport entry to Toowoomba. The development, it is claimed, is required to service the needs of the local community with a McDonalds, a KFC and a convenience store that will operate 24 hours per day. The development is conditional on the installation of traffic lights, by the developer, at the intersection of the Warrego Highway (Cohoe Street) and Herries Streets.

It is claimed that responses provided by the community against the development in the pre-approval stage were not adequately considered in the Council’s decision.

Concerned residents called the protest meeting at St Luke’s Church because the development was given the go ahead despite their objections and those from other stakeholders. As the area is currently mainly residential with adjoining motels and a service station their objections included the 24 hour presence of:

  • safety issues of the proximity of the traffic lights at the crest of the Range creating mayhem for trucks and busses—gearboxes, clutches, mechanical and loading problems that may require breakdown vehicles and Range holdup and delays;
  • traffic/car park noise;
  • overnight carpark lighting; and
  • cooking odours permeating the local environment.
I have a question ...    Photo: Doug Spowart

‘I have a question’ …   .. Photo: Doug Spowart

The meeting was chaired by East Toowoomba resident Kate Powell and those addressing the meeting included State Government members Trevor Watts & John McVeigh, TWU state secretary Peter Biagini and councillor Mike Williams. Questions and comments from the floor were clapped, hissed and booed depending on the feelings of those in attendance. Councillor Mike Williams was indeed a brave man to attend such a meeting however his answers provided understanding of council process and procedures—he refrained from answering questions relating to the specific council decision to approve the development. He did comment that he had voted against the development in the December Council meeting.

The Second Toowoomba Range crossing was a side issue, but one which stirred the crowd. They were advised that authorities felt that the current crossing would be satisfactory for traffic densities of up to 23,000 vehicles daily and that was expected to be by the year 2020—BUT that number of vehicles is using the crossing every day NOW!  And … 25% of those vehicles are heavy transport.

Traffic jam after truck breakdown - Toowoomba Range  Photo: Victoria Cooper

Traffic jam after truck breakdown, 10-01-2013 – Toowoomba Range ………Photo: Victoria Cooper

Members of the audience voiced their emotional outcries as well:

  • ‘What an ugly entry this will provide to the our Garden City’;
  • ‘What have you done to my beautiful city’; and
  • ‘How can you approve another ‘fast food’ outlet in this town … there are already 7 in Toowoomba?’

It was agreed that the Council’s decision would be challenged by the appeal process and to achieve that a committee of nine members were selected from the floor. One attendee quipped that: ‘For council to fight a legal battle derived from this meeting they will use the money of those ratepayers here tonight protesting!’ And a legal battle is where this protest is leading…

What we felt important is the recognition that government, council or administrative bodies need to consider that commercial ‘development’ should go hand-in-hand with community values.

Dr Doug Spowart

The protest group has established a website called FRIENDS OF THE TOOWOOMBA RANGE – To visit click HERE

For more information see the links to some Chronicle Newspaper reports:



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