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BCC to challenge ‘ceiling height’ on CBD

Brisbane Times, 26 March 2013

Brisbane City Council will challenge Brisbane Airport Corporation’s 274-metre ‘‘ceiling height’’ over the inner-city, claiming that raising it to 300 metres would mean six extra floors and an extra $624 million in high-rise investment per year. It has written to Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese, noting a report that says raising the height to 300 metres could be done without compromising safety.

The Council last year commissioned a survey by New South Wales firm Strategic Airspace which says higher buildings in the CBD can be achieved if aircraft take-off’s are three per cent steeper.

The steeper take-offs will add $1 million per year to fuel bills for airlines.

Cr Quirk said increasing CBD building heights to 300 metres could add an extra six building levels and yield up to $624 million per annum of economic value to the economy.

‘‘The efficiency of airport operations may be impacted but those costs would be far outweighed by the potential opportunities for increases in CBD-based economic activity,” Cr Quirk said.

“Brisbane’s CBD is projected to grow rapidly over the next 20 years, however the current cap on building heights will potentially limit floorspace and curtail economic activity,’’ he said.

“Given the economic importance of the CBD to the regional economy, it causes me some concern that building heights are limited to 274 metres due to the prescribed airspace associated with the Brisbane Airport.’’

The study says it is ‘‘unlikely’’ Brisbane’s CBD building heights could be increased to 350 metres, despite that fact it could generate $2.08 billion a year for Brisbane.

‘‘To achieve 350 metres over the whole of the CBD – which was requested as the target height for the consultancy – is unlikely,’’ the Strategic Airspace report says, adding that "it might be achievable over the western end of the CBD".

In November 2011, Airservices Australia warned that the 274 metres was the safety ceiling for approaching Brisbane Airport.

That decision came after developer Billbergia proposed pushing the application for their 90-storey development at 111/222 Margaret Street at 274 metres to 297 metres.

That building is still predicted to be Brisbane’s tallest building, despite a slow start.

Airservices Australia is responsible for air traffic control around Australia. A spokesman said radar signal reflections and interference with take-off and landing flight paths into the wind were the two main issues confronting development in Brisbane’s CBD.

"Anything above that height interferes with the radar signals and also could conceivably cause problems for flight paths into Brisbane Airport," he said.

"Essentially it is a safety issue and CASA being the safety authority has very strict height limits that have to be met around flight path areas."

However Council's Strategic Airspaces study contradicts this advice. ‘‘It should be possible to raise the (minimum radar terrain tolerance) to at least 2000 feet so that 300 metres might be achievable,’’ the report says.

"But this may be the subject of some debate with Airservices.’’ Brisbane City Council’ new City Centre Master Plan suggests Brisbane’s CBD and nearby suburbs needs an extra 50 new buildings by 2031.

Meanwhile, BCC is also pushing the need for extra five-star hotels in the city.

Research by Brisbane Marketing released a fortnight ago said the lack of hotel rooms in Brisbane cost the city 87,000 visitors each year and deprived the local economy of $106 million each year.

Brisbane’s five tallest buildings

  • Margaret Street: 274 metres, 90 storeys (approved)
  • Infinity Tower, Herschel Street: 247 metres, 76 storeys (under construction)
  • Soleil, Adelaide Street: 243 metres; 74 storeys (under construction)
  • Aurora, Queen Street: 207 metres; 69 storeys (completed)
  • Riparian Plaza, Eagle Street: 200.3 metres (250 metres with communications spire); 55 storeys (completed)

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