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Arana Hills retains ‘village’ feel despite proximity to Brisbane CBD

 

SOME 10km from Brisbane’s CBD is a suburb possessing “village” warmth, where locals hope urban sprawl and greedy developers never taint their way of life.

Arana Hills, despite being a similar distance from the CBD as Upper Mt Gravatt and Chermside, has so far escaped being picked over by developers.

One reason may be because it sits beyond Brisbane City Council’s reach and under Moreton Bay Regional Council.

Local business owners and siblings Kristy and Stephen Soderholm said they hoped developers never invaded and destroyed the great community feel that defined the suburb.

“A lot of people like it here because there is still very much a village feel, and we are really worried about losing that because that is what makes the area,” Ms Soderholm said.

“You really do feel you are close to the City, but we have been able to maintain that village atmosphere, and that’s what we are worried about losing over the next five years.”

The Soderholms’ parents started the Arana Hills 7 Day Hardware Store, opposite the Arana Hills Plaza, in 1983, with the siblings since taking over.

Ms Soderholm said some of their customers spanned three generations of the one family, while lately there appeared to be a strong influx of Europeans.

“There are a lot of younger families in the area, and it definitely is becoming more multicultural, with a lot more Europeans and South Africans, but we also get a few Scandinavians dropping in,” she said.

“We are getting the children of customers coming in and even the grandchildren of our original customers.”

 


Salon operator Claire Mock is an overseas-born resident of Arana Hills. Picture: Darren Cartwright
According the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Arana Hills has a population of 6810.

The top five ancestry responses to the 2016 Census were English (29.8 per cent), Australian (27.1), Irish (10.8), Scottish (9.1) and German (5.1).

However Australia was the top country of birth, followed by England, New Zealand and South Africa.

Hair Unlimited salon owner Claire Mock, who emigrated from South Africa less than five years ago, originally opened her store in Ferny Hills before relocating to Arana Hills earlier this year.

She said many of her clients were aged 30 to 50 and were very down-to-earth.

“I moved here five months ago and it’s the best thing I could have done,” she said.

“It’s a better location business-wise and it’s a lovely suburb with down-to-earth, ordinary folk.”

Local real estate agent Simon Whitehead said Arana Hills may have escaped Brisbane City Council’s 2014 Urban Renewal Plan — which will transform areas around nearby Ferny Hills and Mitchelton train stations — but there would still be some changes.

The Moreton Bay Regional Council has approved pockets of development around Arana Hills Plaza under its Next Generation Neighbourhood Plan.

“The average-sized house block was 600sq m and pretty much the minimum until the changes to the town panning a couple of years ago,” he said.

“The area around Arana Hills Plaza has been rezoned, which entails more high-density, so you can subdivide or go to the townhouse unit option.

“There are some units and apartments in and around Arana Hills Plaza already, but about 95 per cent of the dwellings are houses.”

The median house price for Arana Hills is tracking at $537,500 after finishing at $525,750 in 2016 and $497,000 in 2015.
On average about two houses sell a week, and Mr Whitehead said there were a lot of interstate buyer’s agents sniffing around the suburb because of its proximity to the CBD.

“For properties up to $600,000 you are looking at about 40 per cent sold going to interstate investors and the rest would be first home buyers,” he said.

“The big selling point is the distance from CBD, and it provides the happy medium between strong, happy growth and higher rental return.”

Despite being known as a family friendly suburb, Arana Hills has no schools within its boundary.

The nearest education centres are Grovely State School, Ferny Hills State, Mitchelton State High and Primary Schools, St William’s Catholic, Patricks Road State School, St William’s Grovely Catholic Primary School and TAFE Queensland, Grovely.

The suburb also relies heavily on public buses, with the nearest train station, Grovely, about 1km from the plaza.

Mr Whitehead said the lack of local schools and a train station certainly hasn’t held the suburb back.

It sits at the foot of Bunya State Forest and the most expensive houses in Arana Hills, which were only built in the nineties, have sweeping views of the surrounding suburbs and parkland.

The record sale for Arana Hills was in Yarraman St million and it was once the home of a Broncos legend, said Mr Whitehead.

“Arlington Estate was built in the late 90s and Yarraman St has had the most expensive sale,” he said

“It’s the house Shane Webcke once lived and it sold for $1.080 million.

‘The houses back on to Bunya State Forest which has bike and walking tracks and picnic areas.”

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