OPINION: South East Queensland is ripe for investment, but policy needs to stay ahead of the curve


Words by Chris Mountford, Property Council Queensland Executive Director, Property Council of Australia

There’s no denying that Brisbane’s industrial property market has been one of the shining lights of the city’s economy in recent years. There are many indicators of this, including the ANZ/Property Council quarterly industry sentiment survey, which has routinely recorded industrial as the sector with the highest anticipated capital growth in Queensland for the last couple of years running.

And the sector shows no signs of slowing down.

Right now South East Queensland is experiencing significant demand for logistics and warehousing facilities, driven by rising consumer demand and a growing population. This applies at a local, regional and state-wide level, and far beyond.  

South East Queensland’s industrial sector and all it has to offer boasts many advantages for investors.

One of the great advantages of our region is The Port of Brisbane - the closest major Australian port to the growing economies and populations in Asia. With the continual growth of the middle-class across Asia, it’s expected to present an increasing array of opportunities for Australia - specifically through an increase in demand for our goods - and we’re perfectly poised and positioned to deliver on that. 

Close to home, South East Queensland is a rapidly growing region in its own right, with many industrial operators looking to invest in new facilities to meet this burgeoning local demand.

So when investors consider areas of the world with steady growth potential, there are few better prospects than Queensland’s south east.

Change poses a challenge for policymakers

Of course, there are many new trends and technologies impacting on the sector, which means it’s a case of evolve or be left behind for many businesses. 

Increasingly in today’s modern workforce, you are more likely to find millions of dollars’ worth of robotics and workers in lab coats upon stepping inside a facility, rather than the smoke stacks and overalls that were once an iconic sight. That nature of the industry is changing, and there’s a definite increase in the use of dark warehousing, automation and drone technology now across the sector.

These new trends will no doubt shape the future of the industry, and as technological processes advance and the world economy continues to evolve, the demand for different industrial uses within South East Queensland will continue to change. 

But in a rapidly evolving environment such as this, therein lies the challenge for policymakers. With the future requirements of industry difficult to predict, and considering that incorrectly anticipating tomorrow’s land-use demand can result in perverse market outcomes, it’s an area we policymakers must navigate with caution. 

The key will be planning with flexibility, able to adapt and pivot in line with industry changes as and if they occur.

Brisbane City Council’s new Industrial Strategy 

It is encouraging to see Brisbane City Council taking steps to keep their planning controls flexible to the rapidly changing industrial sector.

The Queensland property industry has welcomed the release of Brisbane City Council’s new Industrial Strategy, which outlines a number of targeted planning reforms aimed at encouraging investment and job creation. 

This new strategy seeks to maintain this growth by removing a number of the obstacles to further investment that are currently being experienced by the sector. Increasingly industrial land is being used for clean high-tech industries and logistics uses servicing an on-demand world.

That is why it is so important that our planning system moves with the times and ensures there is flexibility to attract the industrial uses of the future, rather than locking up land in a dogmatic way.

By removing some of these investment roadblocks, Brisbane is taking a proactive step towards securing more jobs and investment in the burgeoning next-gen industrial sector.

While a lot of the detail is yet to be worked out within the new Industrial Strategy, it is clear that the strategy is aimed at making industrial land within Brisbane more flexible to changing market demand – particularly with respect to land in key logistics corridors surrounding the Port of Brisbane and Brisbane Airport.

Allowing more logistics uses to be code assessable within the General Industry C zone will remove one of the key obstacles to enabling the market to grow efficiently over the coming years.

Industrial land supply the challenge of the future

Going forward, the challenge will remain to ensure adequate industrial land supply across all of South East Queensland. 

While there is plenty of theoretical supply, there is still a question mark over what will actually be developable when the market demands it. It is critical that investments be continually made in catalytic localised infrastructure projects that will turn planned industrial areas into investment-ready precincts.

That way, we can ensure a strong future for South East Queensland’s industrial sector that is at the ready to scale and adapt to demand - both local and international - to ensure a prosperous future for all involved. 

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