Urban sprawl engulfs country life
MERINGANDAN residents fear their peaceful country existence is about to be engulfed by Toowoomba's uncontrollable, ever-expanding urban sprawl.
A 54-lot housing estate was last week approved for the peaceful rural hamlet by Toowoomba Regional Council's development assessment panel.
The estate's developer, real estate agent Doug Bartowski, lives in Meringandan.
Mr Bartowski said the strengths of the estate were the country atmosphere and laid-back lifestyle the area offered.
But long-time Meringandan residents Evan Hollis and Jason Grice are concerned that atmosphere and lifestyle could be lost if major housing developments like Mr Bartowski's continue to occur.
In less than 15 months, close to 150 housing blocks have been approved in or around Meringandan.
A 98-block rural-residential development is currently before Toowoomba Regional Council for approval.
Mr Hollis, who bought his home 20 years ago, said while development in the area could boost real estate values, he had no intention of selling his home.
He said he had moved to Meringandan “for life”.
“I fully understand that development will happen and there is little you can do to stop it, but keep in mind that a lot of people moved out here for the country atmosphere,” Mr Hollis said.
“And I don't care about my property values because I never want to leave.”
Mr Grice said he was so concerned about development in Meringandan he was looking to move to get away from the invading urban sprawl.
His concerns are shared by his parents and sister, who live in the same neighbourhood.
Once a rural retreat, Mr Grice said the area had started to resemble suburbia.
“There isn't much you can do about it because I suppose we all need to live somewhere,” he said.
“There was nothing here when we moved here, but now we're surrounded by developments.
“I suppose you can't knock it for property values, but I think I'm going to move out further.”
Toowoomba Regional Council planning and development services spokesman Cr Peter Marks said under the existing town plan there were already similar housing estates in the area and no reason more could not be added if the demand for “tree-changes” continued.
“Basically it means more people will have more opportunity to go out to rural areas,” Cr Marks said.
“But there has been a lot of ‘hamlet' building in the area and we do hope to consider this in the new town plan.”
Cr Marks said there would be more consideration placed on preserving rural-residential areas in the region's new town plan to prevent small-block housing developments in inappropriate areas.