Australia is a very passionate nation.
We proudly cheer on our heroes and love seeing them do well.
It’s our nature to relish an underdog story – to follow a “rags-to-riches” journey that inspires and warms the heart.
We love to see these underdogs become champions and, most times, take delight in their continued successes.
Unfortunately, the other side of the coin is true as well; human nature sometimes has a tendency to “get over” our heroes just as quickly as we’ve embraced them.
And, on occasion, when someone gets too much attention, we tend to cut them down – it’s the classic tall poppy syndrome that can affect anyone in the public domain.
It happens to our musicians, sporting elite and movie stars and it can happen in real estate development as well.
When things are going too good, growing too big or progressing too fast, often our first reaction is to try to put the brakes on – and that can sometimes be an overreaction.
Currently, Toowoomba is undergoing a growth spurt we haven’t seen in many decades.
It seems everywhere you look new housing developments are under way. The wooden skeletons of new units and apartments are popping up everywhere around the city.
And that can bring its share of concern for long-time residents who remember the “good old days” and how Toowoomba was once a quiet, laid-back country town.
It’s very true – that is how we were, but we also have to remember that today will be the “good old days” for somebody 50 years down the track.
Time moves on………..and, unfortunately, progress doesn’t care for memories or sentiment.
Good communities flourish. They expand…..they grow.
Developers don’t force that to happen – the passage of time does.
As our major cities continue to expand (upwards and outwards) real estate prices go through the roof – home ownership can be difficult and larger populations also mean jobs can often be harder to find.
That’s why the appeal of regional centres is growing at such an incredible rate. Opportunities abound.
As the Toowoomba area enjoys a new renaissance on the back of the mining sector and a host of multi-billion-dollar infrastructure works, it’s easy to see that our area is “on the move”.
Is it a good thing?
Everyone has their own opinion on that.
That’s where we rely on Council to diligently manage the types of developments that are approved in the area to ensure that we, as residents, parents and business people, are provided with a safe, prosperous and well-planned home for many years to come.
They need to get the balance right – put too great an emphasis on development and you lose the warm character and the iconic “garden city” reputation that we’re renowned for the world over.
On the other hand, place too many controls, stipulations and constraints on developers and you will see them take their business elsewhere……..and, as a result, our region’s economy stagnates, jobs dry up and our city slowly begins to die.
It’s a tough juggling act.
So, should we support developers?
I have no doubts some of you will be screaming a big “NO”!
But, let’s remember that developers are often servicing changing needs. They are assisting to create that blueprint for the future.
By better managing urban sprawl we can often increase density in our city – which, you might be surprised, isn’t such a bad thing.
As we bring more people together we can actually help the environment by sharing existing resources and infrastructure (or building bigger and better ones). We can utilise electricity more efficiently. We can recycle more effectively. We can live closer to our work places, coffee shops and restaurants.
People often complain about the limited public transport we have available in the city – greater density allows bus and taxi companies to make more confident decisions about increasing services – they see the viability of new routes and know the population base is available to support it.
When disgruntled residents take aim at developers, they’re often quick to focus on the “out of towners” taking OUR money.
It might be just as true to argue that they’re “bringing us money”.
Maybe they’re sourcing building materials from local suppliers, using local tradies on their crews, bringing hundreds of workers to buy lunch from local shops or goods from local shopping centres, visit local bars and restaurants. And, for longer projects, these workers may well live in our region (paying rent as they stay long-term in motels and rental accommodation).
There are some very good developments in Toowoomba that bring great value to the area. I’m sure the residents of north Toowoomba are very pleased to see the Northpoint Shopping Centre come to their neighbourhood – a wonderful asset.
Development for development’s sake is a bad idea, but residents need to encourage and get behind good development for the region to prosper.
Then we all win.
You might say: “But, we don’t want that in Toowoomba – we want our small, country town back”.
It’s not going to happen…..THAT Toowoomba has grown up.
Our small, country town has evolved into a prosperous city with a myriad of resources and sectors to rival anywhere in the country.
I have no doubts we will continue to grow on the back of our dynamic economy and a lifestyle that is the envy of the nation.
And when that happens, EVERYONE benefits.