Milton Residents Voice Concerns Over Billionaire Developer’s Ambitious Project

A billionaire developer’s ambitious $300 million project in Milton is facing mounting opposition from the local community. 

John Lin’s Shayher Group, known for their significant contributions to the Brisbane skyline, has proposed a colossal undertaking at the Milton Green site, which includes four towers overlooking the Brisbane River. This development (DA A006291436) has triggered over 100 objections and formal public submissions. 

A Transformational Masterplan

Shayher Group’s Milton Green project, often described as a “landmark design,” is set to redefine the western approach to Milton and the Brisbane CBD. This S300 million-plus venture encompasses a riverfront public plaza, an indoor sports facility, a range of shops, modern housing units, and retirement living spaces. The proposed towers, with heights ranging from 30 to 37 storeys, have drawn attention for their sheer scale and architectural ambition

One of the central aspects of the proposal is its commitment to opening up 5000 sqm of the site for public green space, providing the community with a much-needed recreational area. Notably, this property houses the historic Milton House, dating back to 1853. Shayher Group recently restored this heritage-listed homestead, which was built by the pioneering chemist and cotton grower, Ambrose Eldridge. The house is among the ten oldest in Brisbane and holds significant historical value.

Shayher Group had initially requested a maximum building height of 40 storeys, but in response to Council planners’ concerns, they reduced it to 36 storeys. The Council acknowledged a previous approval dating back to 2012, which permitted a maximum of 20 storeys, valid until 2026. The Council is now seeking additional information from Shayher Group regarding the potential impact of these towers on skyline views and the outlook towards Milton House.

Milton Green
Photo Credit: DA A006291436

Community Concerns

The proposal has sparked concerns from the local community, with over 100 formal submissions expressing reservations about the project. 

“Many residents question the purpose of our city planning codes if non-compliance is no longer a reason for refusal. It is incredibly undemocratic for individual assessment officers to be able to decide what is and is not in the public interest. Residents of this area are fed up with having their amenity ruined, having already experienced rapid and unsustainable development that consistently fails to meet our city’s planning requirements,” Milton local Derek Moore wrote in his submission.

“I feel that 30,32 and 37 storeys are too high. The number of stories should be reduced to 20 storeys at the most. I would prefer rows of Terrace Houses built, in the English style with a central road running through the middle of them with parks and playgrounds for the children,” Jane Millar wrote. “I am worried that if the Council allow these massive towers that in 50 years Milton will be like Manhattan in New York.” 

“The purpose of this submission is not to object to redevelopment of the site for the proposed uses in principle, but rather to raise design concerns in relation to the excessive scale of built form, including key non-compliances with assessment benchmarks and uncertainty about the proposed variations. The development being considered will change the character significantly, which will reset the character of this area for future application, creating an issue in perpetuity,” resident Alexander Brock Knight wrote. 

Local federal Greens MP, Stephen Bates, has rallied against the project, spearheading a letter-writing campaign and community initiative in response to the masterplan. Bates expressed concerns about the absence of provisions for affordable housing and the inclusion of short-term accommodation. He stressed the need for genuinely affordable housing amidst a housing crisis and called for inclusive zoning in all new developments to address this issue.

“This proposal fails to include any provision for affordable housing, but does include at least 4 storeys of short-term accommodation. We do not need any more AirBNBs and riverfront luxury apartments. We are in a housing crisis, we need more genuinely affordable housing, which is why the Greens are calling for 20% inclusionary zoning for all new developments to ensure supply of public and community housing,” he said.

Moreover, Bates raised issues related to increased traffic congestion and inadequate street parking, particularly in the vicinity of Coronation Drive, where the development is planned. He cited discrepancies in the developer’s assessment of traffic impact, given the substantial number of car parks to be provided.

Milton Green
Photo Credit: Milton Green/Instagram

A Developing Debate

As the debate surrounding the Shayher Group’s Milton Green project continues to evolve, the local community, developers, and political figures must navigate the delicate balance between progress and preserving the heritage and liveability of the cherished suburb of Milton.

The proposed project has the potential to reshape the city’s skyline and provide valuable amenities but also brings forth concerns about the impact on the community and the environment. The ongoing dialogue will determine the path this ambitious development will take in the heart of Milton.