Building a more resilient Bundaberg with the Bargara Emerging Community Infrastructure Planning project


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The Bargara Emerging Community Infrastructure Planning project pioneers an innovative approach to address climate change and resilience challenges in emerging community areas. Using green infrastructure, this award-winning project enhances resilience, leading to reduced flooding, improved biodiversity and climate adaptation and sets a new benchmark for sustainable approaches to development. 

In 2021, Bundaberg Regional Council engaged AECOM to prepare an integrated trunk infrastructure masterplan for the Bargara Emerging Communities Area. The project integrates nature-based strategies to tackle fragmented landownership, stormwater management, flooding, and ecological concerns in the Bundaberg region. 

The project was awarded the Excellence Award for Innovation and Sustainability in Water at the 2023 Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia – Queensland and Northern Territory Annual Conference. 
AECOM’s multi-disciplinary team collaborated with five Bundaberg Regional Council departments to identify site constraints, opportunities, and define a unified design philosophy. The final structure plan delivers community-driven outcomes across three key areas: 

1/ Supporting the growing residential community 

Well-designed, efficient residential community with the potential for 70 hectares of developable area with a central ‘green infrastructure spine’. The 24-hectare green infrastructure spine acts as an integrated landscaped public open space, waterway and active transport corridor, providing opportunities for nature-based solutions that benefit the ecology, amenity and resilience of the community. It also improves the public open space network in highly accessible locations that meet the needs of the community and maximise the benefits of the public-owned ‘green spine’.  

2/ Strengthening flood resilience and environmental outcomes 

The ‘green infrastructure spine’ has been designed with future flood behaviour in mind. Waterway corridors and wetlands are sized and sequenced to safely manage flood risk and water quality, providing a holistic solution for this site and the broader catchment. Furthermore, the corridor provides high amenity, multi-purpose corridors in public ownership enhancing environment, movement, and open space outcomes. Notably, the proposed stormwater network is predicted to deliver a net improvement in water quality to the receiving environment, which includes the Great Sandy Marine Park.   

3/ Transport network upgrades 

Transport network upgrades have been integrated to serve multiple infrastructure functions, such as road and active user connectivity, flood attenuation and protection for other essential assets. Simple, but intentional integration of assets to provide complementary functions significantly improved the affordability and efficiency of the overall infrastructure masterplan.  

Setting a new standard  

Embracing nature is vital for the future of our built environments and the Bargara Emerging Community Infrastructure Planning project is a best-practice example of how to integrate fit-for-purpose nature-based solutions into multi-disciplinary infrastructure functions.  

The project achieves several pertinent outcomes, including: 

  • A financially sustainable and maintainable trunk infrastructure masterplan.
  • An attractive precinct for communities to enjoy for generations to come, with nature re-established as its centre point.
  • Buy-in from technical and non-technical stakeholders.
  • A precedent for holistic, trunk infrastructure master planning that balances the needs of the Council, community, and environment.