Economic Development Queensland (EDQ) is the state government’s streamlined business unit for residential, urban and industrial development. Their primary goal is to facilitate the economic development of Queensland through various stimulating projects.
EDQ was born in February 2013 through the union of the Urban Land Development Authority (ULDA) and Property Services Group (PSG), continuing the projects and activities of those previous bodies while identifying new ones such as development outcomes. Chris Mills, a General Manager at EDQ, was a former employee at Property Services Group before joining the new company.
Today, EDQ plays a key role in streamlining and fast-tracking development throughout the state, and undertakes a strategic planning function for priority development areas (PDAs). It works closely with local governments to undertake planning within PDAs and – where appropriate – provisional priority development areas (PPDAs).
Though EDQ is barely a year old, they have already attracted recognition from within the industry. At the 2013 UDIA Queensland Awards for Excellence, they won the Residential Subdivision Award, and were nominated for the Mining and Resource Development Award, as well as the Wildcard Award.
The Mining and Resource Development nomination was earned by Blue Ridge in Blackwater, a community that – once complete – will comprise of approximately 176 homes. It has been designed as a vibrant inclusive community, providing residents with a diverse range of high quality, smartly designed, and well-priced homes.
The Wildcard Award nomination, meanwhile, was earned on behalf of EDQ’s Augmented Reality 3D Interactive Tool. Chris is very excited about the possibilities this new technology would provide.
“It’s really a good opportunity for people to learn about projects in an efficient way,” he explains. “With it, we can produce cards that – when scanned and recognised by a particular piece of software – create a 3D image that you walk through, look down on, or peel back. That can be a house, or piece of land, or a street, or even larger scale than that.”
“It provides the opportunity to – rather than just see a picture of what your house might look like – see a 3D image that you can walk through and look at and get a feel for with things like shade, neighbours, street scape, and other things that you can not only visualize but touch and feel.”
Most significantly, EDQ’s award-winning project – the Fitzgibbon Chase residential community – commenced in 2010, and is located just thirteen kilometres from the Brisbane CBD. The project is strategically located to be only minutes from public transport, shopping and a range of established amenities, and once complete the community will comprise of approximately fifteen hundred homes.
Like Blue Ridge, Fitzgibbon Chase has been designed as a beautiful, comprehensive community, and provides both the option for pre-built homes and land only sales. Set amidst natural bushland on a 122 hectare site, the community offers an idyllic lifestyle with all homes situated within metres of a park. According to Chris, it was designed to suit a variety of residents – including first home buyers, professional couples and established families.
Fitzgibbon Chase was a somewhat unusual project for EDQ, Chris explains.
“Typically when you come to us, you’re signing a land contract and then getting a home-building contract from a builder. Not so with Fitzgibbon Chase – we started out with a vision of affordable housing and to test a range of innovative building types with our existing building partners. We also wanted to try using lot sizes that hadn’t been previously seen in Brisbane before.”
“In terms of the affordability, we have lot sizes that start at 54 square metres and range up to and over 600 square metres. What that means is because of smaller land sizes, you’ve got lower cost purchase prices. The aim was to achieve a certain amount of product at or below Brisbane’s median house price, and we actually have achieved to date 80 per cent below that.”
“We attempted to cover broader sustainability initiatives too,” Chris adds. “At the time of the award, Fitzgibbon Chase was the most northern project in Queensland to achieve a 6-leaf EnviroDevelopment accreditation.”
EnviroDevelopment is a scientifically-based branding system designed to gauge a development’s environmentally sustainability. The accreditation process is separated into six key elements –ecosystems, waste, energy, materials, water, and community. If a development achieves the objective of that element, it is certified with a leaf. By including a wide range of sustainable and efficient initiatives – such as a stormwater harvesting scheme, and a minimum 6 Star energy rating for all homes – Fitzgibbon Chase was able to achieve all six leaves.
“Ultimately, Fitzgibbon was a successful test,” Chris says. “We tested things that other might not – what other developers would not try until it’s been attempted or councils would not be convinced could work with smaller lot sizes. But it was an achievement because we did it, and now those developers and councils are picking up on that and are using and improving on what we did even more.”
Moving forward, EDQ is very excited about the next project they are working on. Taking the knowledge gained from Fitzgibbon, the company has started redevelopment of Parklands, Southport on the Gold Coast for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. The project will be one of the largest urban renewal projects ever undertaken on the Gold Coast.
“It’s incredibly exciting,” concludes Chris. “The village is going to be home to over 6,000 athletes and officials in game mode, and it’s going to provide a lasting legacy for all future games.”