‘Go back and design a better laneway’ – BCC planners want a better outcome

Grocon’s submission to build a 15 floor office tower needs ground level amending after uninspiring laneway proposal.

In a recent correspondence from Brisbane City Council planners to Melbourne based developer Grocon, planners have asked for a better designed laneway, in order to create a ‘shared space’ rather then it’s current emphasis on servicing and traffic access. The correspondence referred Grocon to go look at Brisbane Streetscape Design Guidelines which outline council’s vision for better street and laneway interaction. This signifies the start of private sector involvement in council’s ‘vibrant laneways’ program which aims to transform underused and ‘forgotten spaces’ such as CBD laneways into vibrant, energetic public spaces. 

A snippet of the correspondance is located below, or you can read the information request here.


Landscape Architecture:

1. Provide an amended Ground Floor Plan to demonstrate attention to the listed issues listed below: 
  • The applicant is encouraged to look at the Brisbane Streetscape Design Guidelines under cross block links to see what council’s vision of this looks like and then to design it appropriately (as a shared space). The current emphasis on servicing and traffic access is not the intention that council had in mind for this link

The idea behind Cross Block Links is outlined in the Brisbane Streetscape Design Guidelines below:


Typical Layout Considerations – In And Out Of Centre

Adjacent developments must contribute to an open space by allowing for solar access, visual interaction and surveillance of the Cross Block Link. Where Cross Block Links meet the roadside public footway, the footway treatment/layout shall be kept free of furniture and street trees, to facilitate the future construction of a pedestrian road crossing as shown in the typical layout below.
Where located in Centres, Cross Block Links may be in public of private ownership with public access. Neighbourhood Plans will identify the preferred ownership within the plan area. This will be agreed on a site-by-site basis through the development assessment process. Where privately owned, Cross Block Links shall be publicly accessible during business hours as a minimum, with extended hours where supported by appropriate activation. Refer to the typical layout diagrams for acceptable solutions in and out of Centres. 

Previous development submission article below, more information to come.


Melbourne property developer and construction company Grocon has entered the Brisbane market with a 15 level proposal to build an office tower on the old treasury row site. The previous proposal by Metacap Developments was for a 64 level Westin hotel, however due to a lack of funding options the site was sold to Grocon. The developer is rumoured to have secured the Australian Tax Office as the whole tenant for 55 Elizabeth Street.

The proposal entails building over the laneway off Elizabeth Street which houses The Coffee Supplier, a popular growing cafe. While it is not known if the coffee shop will remain, the exact details for the urban laneway behind the tower remain sketchy however a small pedestrian walkway will remain towards the back. This may be a blow to the Brisbane City Councils Vibrant Laneways and Small Spaces Program which aims to create spaces where people can shop, dine, meet and relax in otherwise forgotten locations like Brisbane’s back alleyways.

The 55 Elizabeth Street proposal appears to have turned its back on the laneway renewal concept, with the plant and equipment room taking up any potential retail space at the back, (shown below on the left). The image below to the right illustrates how retail could look in the back alleyway behind 55 Elizabeth Street. If something of this nature could be developed, a better urban environment could be achieved which would not only directly benefit the future office workers of 55 Elizabeth Street but also all residents and retail users of Brisbane.

The proposal does however create a new side cafe/restaurant which is planned for the covered laneway off Elizabeth street. There is also a large retail tenancy which is planned for the Elizabeth Street shopfront (shown below).

It is not known when a decision on the development application will be made. Below are images from the publicly available online development submission. More details to come.

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