Locals Want to Replace Bellbowrie Shopping Plaza With a Health Services Precinct

It might take more than the $12-million redevelopment of Bellbowrie Shopping Plaza to convince retailers to stay on. Locals seem to be hoping that the site would be transformed into a health services precinct, a high school, or a community facility.

In a poll via the 4070 & 4069 Action Group, at least 39 per cent of the locals think Bellbowrie Shopping Plaza should be replaced with a 24/7 health centre or a high school building after ensuring its safety from floods. Some 23 per cent said the plaza must be turned into a library or a community facility with food and drinks options and a garden. 

At least 16 per cent said that the shopping centre should be rebuilt with units, cafes and small retailers, whilst nine per cent believe Bunnings could take over the site. Four per cent said it could be used as a transport terminal for a new green bridge, whilst three per cent said it should be renovated with a limited line from a supermarket and small shops. 

The suggestions come as Metcash, the parent company of IGA, recently confirmed they have no plans to build a supermarket at Bellbowrie Shopping Plaza, much to the disappointment of both shoppers and the remaining tenants who have been hoping that a supermarket would bring foot traffic.

Bellbowrie Shopping Plaza
Photo Credit: Google Maps

After Coles moved out of Bellbowrie Shopping Plaza in June 2021, several closures followed suit, such as the Bellbowrie Bakery, Woka Woka Thai restaurant, Star Seafood & Burger, a hair salon and a doctor’s clinic. 

Elizabeth Watson-Brown, Greens MP for Ryan, said: “The floods of early 2022 were the last straw for many tenants, but the decision of supermarket giant Coles to move to higher ground had already seen many shops in the centre close.”  

The MP has earlier proposed to turn the site into a public facility. 

“Moggill-Bellbowrie is in desperate need of more amenities, especially education and health. When people can access essential services near their homes, there’s much less need for them to get in the car and add to the traffic on congested roads!”

Meanwhile, upgrades and floodproofing are underway at Bellbowrie Shopping Plaza, which the owner hopes will entice new business as there are currently no plans to sell the property. 

Petition Opened to Turn Bellbowrie Shopping Plaza into a Community Site

A petition to turn Bellbowrie Shopping Plaza into a community space or a public service site has been created following the departure of Coles, its anchor tenant, and other businesses in early 2021.

The owner of the plaza has reportedly been in talks to bring in IGA but with no confirmation or official announcements on the deal, Greens for Ryan MP Elizabeth Watson-Brown started a petition to revitalise the commercial precinct as a public space.

Ms Ryan said that while the plaza is not yet vacant and small retailers continue to trade and thrive, there are large and under-utilised sections in the property that could be repurposed into other potential public facilities.

She suggested that these vacant spaces be turned into any of the following, pending community consultations:

  • A public high school, taking pressure off Kenmore and Indooroopilly State High Schools
  • A transit hub with a light rail or busway across the river via Riverhills to Darra, giving commuters a reliable and traffic-free route into the city
  • Public specialist medical services, functioning as a satellite hospital for the western suburbs
  • A library with meeting rooms, or other community facilities

Ms Ryan also pointed out that the growing population in Bellbowrie has been lacking in public services for years. 

“This would be a perfect location to fill a need for public services in the area,” she said

Bellbowrie Shopping Plaza
Photo Credit: Google Maps

Ms Ryan thought that putting an elevated high school or a similar community facility in a former shopping precinct would be ideal since this is a walkable area. 

“Studies suggest secondary-age students will walk or bike to school if there’s a safe route taking about that time or less. Right now almost every secondary student in the area must be driven to school and back.”

However, some of the residents said that Bellbowrie Shopping Plaza is a flood-prone area which was partly why Coles vacated the site. The MP said that the flooding issues should be accounted for in the community consultations, which will entail coming up with a good design solution. 

“The site is not completely deserted, but our suggestions don’t necessitate that the whole site is used – the vacant lot portion alone could fit a high school or transit hub as we’re suggesting,” Ms Ryan added.  

“I’d love to see the site become a nexus of community activity and there’s no reason that can’t include businesses.” 

Refurbishment Plans Lodged

However, in November 2021, Planning Solutions filed a development application (DA A005894017) on behalf of the plaza’s owners to build an elevated car parking area on the property.  

Bellbowrie Shopping Plaza
Photo Credit: Developmenti/BCC

Sparc Architects was hired for the designs that will provide shoppers with direct access to the supermarket section from the elevated car park. The plans also underscored a refurbishment of the centre to improve customer experience and amenities. 

Photo Credit: Developmenti/BCC
Photo Credit: Developmenti/BCC

“It is proposed to renovate the existing Centre and to improve shopper convenience and amenity. The existing supermarket at (circa 2020) the eastern end of the shopping centre was built at RL 13.1m AHD to meet flood immunity standards applicable at the time, and it is proposed to raise the level of the adjacent car park (from a surface level of 11.5m AHD) to 12.92m AHD to be at a similar level as the supermarket floor to cater for ease of movement for customers and for ‘click and collect’ services and also to increase its flood immunity.”