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How Moreton Bay is tracking to a $40 billion economy

February 2, 2024

Brisbane’s Moreton Bay region plays a key part in the discussion as to how South East Queensland will keep up with population growth and housing demand over the next two to three decades.

The region, north of Brisbane and comprising of over 100 localities like Redcliffe, Albany Creek and Deception Bay, has had significant investment in recent years and has ambitious growth plans, mooted by both the Moreton Bay Council’s Regional Economic Development Strategy 2020-41 and the now confirmed 128-page government dossier, Shaping SEQ 2023.

Back in 2020, when the Moreton Bay Council’s Regional Economic Development Strategy 2020-41 (REDS) was released, Moreton Bay Regional Council Mayor Peter Flannery said it’s important to reduce reliance on population-driven industries and focus on supporting high value-adding industries, exports, and innovation, while balancing the lifestyle that locals expect. 

“Key to this will be a focus on exports and embracing innovation,” Flannery says.

“We must be single minded about attracting new investment that will provide a high level of value to the economy and embracing industry advancement across advanced manufacturing, food and agribusiness, tourism, sport and major events, and knowledge, innovation and entrepreneurship.”

What did the Moreton Bay Council’s Regional Economic Development Strategy 2020-41 say?

The Regional Economic Development Strategy 2020-41 said that while the Moreton Bay Region is the third largest local government area in Australia by population, the region “lacks a coherent regional identity and reputation as a business destination.” 

“Given the attractive residential offering, the region’s economy has aligned to (and relies on) population growth (and associated industries such as retail trade, healthcare, education and construction)," the report read.

In 2019, the region’s population grew by 2.2%, while the economy grew at just 0.5%, the lowest levels of growth since 2001.

The three key themes of the report were to be bigger, brighter and bolder.

It said the region will become bigger, with the economy reaching $40 billion in 2041, more than double its current size. The council said they will be bolder, with the creation of 100,000 new jobs and 16,000 new businesses by 2041, adding that there will be a focus to ensure Moreton Bay residents have the necessary skills and knowledge to access these jobs. The bright future refers to the region’s growth and talent, making it one of the top 10 regional knowledge and innovation hubs in Australia.

The regional and innovation will be focused around The Mill at Moreton Bay, pitched as a thriving new precinct which will generate thousands of higher education and employment opportunities. The Mill will have the University of the Sunshine Coast campus at its core, as well as an onsite train station.

The plans for The Mill. Image credit: Archipelago

It was 2016 when the site, next to Petrie Town Centre, was declared a Priority Development Area (PDA) to fast track development. The Mill at Moreton Bay comprises 460-hectares of council owned land, zoned for urban mixed-use development. It is considered one of Queensland’s most significant PDA’s. The plan is for a major campus for the University of Sunshine Coast (which has already opened), a major private health precinct, advanced manufacturing, commercial mixed use, and medium density residential with significant open space and rec areas.

How is the City of Moreton Bay tracking in its targets?

The Moreton Bay Council provided an update in the Interim Action Plan Report Card 2023 released in December. The report showcased the results of activities of the Regional Economic Development Strategy (REDS).

In 2023 alone the City of Moreton Bay, the third most populous local government area in Australia, generated an additional $700 million in gross regional product, with 4,193 new jobs and 857 new businesses.

“The momentum has continued in 2023 with direct progress being made against 20 of the 23 action items listed in the 2023-24 REDS Action Plan in the first ten months of the two year plan,” the report said.

Some of the activities included the My Future in Moreton Bay, a virtual work experience program launched with nine modules and over 4000 enrolments. One of the main actions of note was the agreement reached between University Sunshine Coast and Council on an initial innovation hub to commence early 2024.

There were 18 major sponsored events over 2023, drawing over $18 million in visitor spend. 

2023 also saw the LGA take out the 2023 Economic Development Australia Award for Economic Development: Recovery & Resilience, as well as three other awards for growth.

Peter Flannery said the report card results clearly demonstrated the ripe opportunities and investor confidence in the local area.

“Investment attraction is a key focus for the City of Moreton Bay, and this year we attracted 156 investment leads, resulting in three secured major investments that will contribute $189 million in capex and 615 jobs, including 179 ongoing jobs contributing to the local economy,” he said.

What did the Shaping SEQ 2023 say about Moreton Bay?

The Shaping SEQ 2023 said Morteon Bay will be a World Heritage-listed healthy Ramsar wetland of international importance, and the cultural, environmental, economic and recreational value of the bay and islands will be an important component of SEQ’s way of life.

Based on ShapingSEQ’s projections, the population of Moreton Bay will grow by over 308,000 by 2046, the third highest growth LGA in South East Queensland behind Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Population will rise by 62 per cent, from 484,000 to 782,000. To keep up with population growth, the Government is targeting 125,000 new homes for the Moreton Bay region in the same time period.

“The long-standing policy of seeking compact urban growth which limits sprawl, protects cultural heritage values and our precious natural landscape and minimises environmental impacts is still relevant to SEQ,” the report noted.

“The consolidation/expansion dwelling growth ratio for SEQ is achieved through meeting dwelling supply targets which take a place-based approach that has regard to each LGA’s local characteristics and needs balanced against the overall characteristics and needs of the region.”

The baseline employment forecast for Moreton Bay by Queensland Treasury Regional Employment Projections suggests employment to 2040/41 will rise to 234,000 from the current 149,000, a 57 per cent increase.

ShapingSEQ mentioned the direct Sunshine Coast Rail Line, in their region shaping infrastructure section. The line, from Beerwah to Caloundra and Maroochydore, expands the SEQ rail network through a proposed spur line to provide faster, more reliable and sustainable connections between Sunshine Coast, Moreton Bay and Brisbane. They said it will support increased dwelling densities and employment growth around any new public transport stations and more accessible and efficient public transport.

There will also be upgrades to Gateway Motorway and Bruce Highway, from North Brisbane to Moreton Bay Region, providing for additional capacity and improving safety and network efficiency, particularly for freight. It will also help to reduce peak hour congestion and overall travel time. 

ShapingSEQ also noted Moreton Bay’s biodiversity when developing the bay islands of Southern Moreton Bay.

“Future development of the bay islands, including those of Southern Moreton Bay, will need to be informed by detailed land use and infrastructure investigations that examine the effects of climate change and natural hazard risk, as well as the impact growth will have on the environmentally sensitive Moreton Bay Marine Park. This will require a coordinated response between the Queensland Government, local government and key stakeholders to determine the safe development capacity and long-term sustainability of the islands.”

The Sandstone Point Hotel was identified as a key economic driver for the sub-region, providing job generation and boosting tourism and recreation opportunities for the wider area. The plans by South East Queensland hospitality operator Comiskey Group are for a Bali-style beach club, known as The Oyster Shed Beach Club, complete with eco villas, heated swimming pools, a swim up bar, spa, and a mini golf course.

“The area has been identified as a SEQ development area to ensure appropriate local planning can occur and site attributes can be managed and/or avoided such as coastal hazards and matters of environmental significance,” the report read.

Gallery Group’s impact in Moreton Bay

Builder developer Gallery Group has completed a number of land subdivisions in the estates of Contempo in Bellmere and Bayside Moreton Bay in Deception Bay. Their most recent sell out was the 42-lot house and land project Seagrass Moreton Bay in Deception Bay.

Lot prices at Seagrass had started at $630,000.

The interiors are all crafted by Gallery Group’s experienced inhouse design team which has won a number of HIA awards since 2011.

Conveniently located within a few hundred metres of an Aldi, a medical centre and a number of fast food outlets, Seagrass is also just over one kilometre from Market Square Deception Bay, one of the region’s largest shopping centres, after an extension last year which saw a new full-line Coles added, part of an 8,500 sqm extension. MKT Square Deception Bay already is home to a full line Woolworths, Dan Murphy’s, Snap Fitness and a Play & Learn Child Care Centre, as well as a number of cafes and restaurants.

Between MKT Square Deception Bay and Seagrass is one of Deception Bay’s largest parks, home to a playground, Deception Bay Aquatic Centre, PCYC Deception Bay, Kairos Community College, D-Bay Skate Park, a basketball court and a sports oval.

To speak to Gallery Group to hear about their latest opportunities, click here.

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