Griffith University: Cities expert forecasts bold future for the Gold Coast

The future of many Gold Coast golf courses could lie in productive parks where food crops are grown and technologies created, according to a Griffith University cities researcher.

With ideas ranging from reshaping today’s golf courses, to the rise of ecotourism and the challenge of moving people and goods, Cities Research Institute Director Professor Paul Burton shared plenty of exciting ideas at a recent Young Professionals Gold Coast event, where the Gold Coast Great Ideas 2021 report was unveiled.


Professor Paul Burton.
Professor Burton said it was up to Gold Coast locals to forge their own path by getting involved in shaping their city.

“If we think the future is predictable and inevitable, then we’re handing it over to others and that has never been the Gold Coast way,” he said.

“The Gold Coast’s future is ours to make.”

The town planner said an example of a change that could improve the Gold Coast was rethinking the use of the city’s golf courses, as the demand for golf plateaus, and in some instances, courses become no longer economically viable.

“Until recently we were very reluctant to see them turned into anything else and for good reasons: we don’t want to lose the greenspace and wildlife habitat they offer,” Professor Burton said.


Golf courses could be turned into productive parks.
“But perhaps instead of being turned into a master-planned residential community when their golf course life is over, they could become productive parks.

“Places where high-value food crops are grown, processed, and sold for example.

“Places where new growing and processing technologies are developed and applied and where local residents and visitors watch and learn.”

He said while there were some privately owned courses, there were still many publicly accessible courses that could be converted and enjoyed by more residents.

Professor Burton also predicted other infrastructure would require evolution, the academic imploring tourism companies to capitalise on eco-opportunities as a complementary industry to the region’s famed theme parks.


Natural Bridge in the Gondwana Rainforests.
“With a 60km beachfront, more canals than Venice and World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforests, we can offer tourists and visitors something they can’t get anywhere in the world,” he said.

“Making these available in sustainable ways that don’t destroy themselves in the process is a challenge, but one that emerging Gold Coast eco-tourism operators, including Indigenous tourism ventures are up for.”

Professor Burton said people should also consider how they wished to see transport evolve in the future, including whether goods should be delivered by dedicated freight ways or even by drones.

“One area where we can make a difference in the shorter term is how we move goods and freight around,” he said.

“Just as we have dedicated busways in Brisbane, maybe dedicated freight ways for heavy vehicles will become viable.


Drones could be used for freight.
“If we can move our goods differently over the last kilometre, before they reach our homes, shops or factories, then perhaps we can reduce congestion pressure even more.”

He also expects the way citizens use cars and even petrol stations to change.

“As a city with a large footprint that grew up in the era when the car was king, we face some big challenges in planning to make our city accessible in the future,” he said.

“Cars are not going to disappear from our streets in the foreseeable future, but we might not own so many ourselves and they won’t be running on petrol and diesel for much longer.

“Our servos are already becoming places to access a range of services, rather than just filling up on fuel and this will continue to accelerate as they turn into places to get your virus test, vaccination and pick up your parcels while charging your vehicle.”

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