Issue: High-Rise Buildings, Heritage Buildings, Streetscapes, View-lines.
Brian has worked hard, as President of Hobart Not Highrise Inc. to, as Premier Will Hodgman put it, "put a sensible and practical hard ceiling on maximun building heights", to keep Hobart a low-rise human-scale heritage city.
It was Hobart Not Highrise Inc., at a public meeting at the Grand Chancellor, and later at a deputation to the City of Hobart planning committee, who put forward the idea of absolute maximum heights, and the current Aldermen who followed through. Leigh Wooley's report on absolute maximum heights, heritage, view-lines etc. is probably the most important decision that Hobart City Council will ever make. It gives certainty to everyone involved in a development; owners, developers, architects, the public, planning staff, and Aldermen. This is now out for public consultation.
Brian is pleased to have been a part of this effort.
Issue: Cable Car
Brian has a number of concerns and questions, having watched this issue unfold over the past few years
Brian's concerns and questions are:
- the claim that 'due process' is being subverted has a lot of merit
- what are the impacts on the environment?
- what are the visual impacts if there are large developments between the organ pipes and the top?
- are there impacts on aboriginal heritage?
- where is a cost / benefit analysis?
- what will a return ticket cost?
- what are the benefits to Hobart's community?
- what is the commercial value of the public land required for the road, and do they expect to get it for nothing? How much land is required for the base-station, including parking?
- what are the legal liability issues, when public land is used?
- will there be a public lookout with easy access?
- what happens if the project is unsuccessful?
Issue: Council Amalgamations
Brian believes that councils should never be forced to amalgamate. We value local democracy, with local aldermen looking after us, responsive to our issues, and accountable to us, particularly in this world of big business, instant communications, and the global economy.
As Councils get bigger, they become like corporations and start to provide bland services. In recent years, across Australia, the Councils that resisted mergers most vigorously were those with a long history and a strong local identity; Councils like Hobart.
Community groups are local experts. Each residents’ association knows its suburb inside-out, and, when aldermen work closely with these local associations, it makes Local Government much more ‘local’. If you expand a local government area, being ‘local’ is put at risk, which is why amalgamations must always be voluntary – then it’s the ratepayers’ choice.
About 10 years ago, forced amalgamations in Queensland reduced the number of Councils from 157 to 72, designed to cut costs through greater economies of scale. In March this year, Local Government of Queensland CEO Greg Hallam, said: “Any claims of savings were clearly illusory … Amalgamation wasn't the silver bullet.” A 2018 poll had 69% wanting to undo the council amalgamations, and only 10% saying that amalgamation were “worth it”. There have been a number of de-amalgamations in recent years.
In rural areas, the local council is the backbone of the community, providing local services, and usually the biggest local employer. Towns can die if the council offices close down. Jobs are lost. Local identity is lost. Clearly amalgamations must be a local voluntary choice.
If the City of Hobart was to amalgamate with an adjoining Council, and rates were charged across the amalgamated council area based on land values, Hobart residents would likely pay more, as we have higher land values. Needless to say, Hobart residents would not be happy with this.
Issue: City Deal
There are three City Deals in place: Western Sydney, Townsville, and Launceston.
The Launceston City Deal is about the Utas precinct at Inveresk, improving the health of the Tamar River, and revitalising the city centre area.
The proposed Hobart City Deal focuses on modern public transport (light rail, ferry, etc), re-development of Macquarie Point including the Antartic Precinct, support for affordable housing, a UTas STEM centre, and a Greater Hobart Act to promote collaboration between the state government and the four Hobart councils. All of these would be welcome as Hobart grows.
These are major issues that would require a lot of Council involvement, and I would love to be involved, to help shape Hobart's future.