Newsletter no.5 from Ald Anna Reynolds - July 2015
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Street makeover for your neighbourhood!

I was inspired to hear from a tribe of passionate ‘urbanists’ recently, at the 2015
Liveable Cities conference in Melbourne. Great work is being done to improve the environment and society in cities globally, by creating more lively, walkable and sociable neighbourhoods.

Central to this movement is empowering communities to have a say in the design of their streets, adding more ‘green infrastructure’ and traffic calming, and creating places where people want to get together.
In the next few months several Hobart suburbs will have the chance to redesign their main street. If you’ve ever said, “gee, I’d like to see {add your desire here} in my neighbourhood”, now is the time to speak up!

Hobart City Council is developing designs to revamp Macquarie Street in South Hobart, Augusta Road in Lenah Valley, Main Road in New Town, and Hampden Road in Battery Point. Many of these areas haven’t had money spent on them for decades, and now it’s time to create plans for these streets.

The plans will only be as good as your ideas and passion to see change, so please look out for this, and
email me if you want to be kept informed! I hope you will get involved in the planning process.
Battery Point walkway

I was very disappointed by the decision of the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal (RMPAT) to back a handful of waterfront landowners and reject the Council’s application to develop a walk and cycleway around Battery Point. The Tribunal’s written judgement was a shock to many who monitor its decisions.

The Tribunal clearly does not understand the value of this walkway in connecting the city from north to south, nor the public health value of city design that makes walking and cycling easier.  The judgement made some rather ill-informed and inaccurate statements about the ability and desirability for cyclists to use other routes, saying:

The Tribunal is satisfied on the evidence that the benefits conferred upon commuters by the development of Stage 1 compared to the present arrangements are not overwhelming; they are not so significant as to make a compelling case for the development on this basis alone.
The Tribunal considered that, in the absence of evidence from “organised cycling groups or cyclists”, there was no evidence as to the “suitability of the accessway to service their [cyclists] needs” or whether the proposed accessway was considered an “attractive option”.*

I was extremely disappointed that this evidence did not get to the Tribunal. “Why not?, I asked the Council’s legal team , but have yet to receive a satisfactory answer. It does highlight the value of community groups taking steps to join as a party to RMPAT cases that are in the public interest, to ensure their views are heard.

The Tribunal made quite a unusual judgement that the primary concern was not the loss of a view, but the impact of a change to a view:
View loss is not the central issue in this matter; it is hardly relevant at all. It is the amenity impact caused by the introduction of a significant element into residential outlooks that is in issue.
Many planning experts are now rightly asking if any change of a residential view is enough to stop any development, or is this a case of the Tribunal finding that some people’s views are more important than others? When making their final decision, they had to decide whether the impact on a few “residential outlooks” could be justified in the public interest. The Tribunal’s decision was that views from waterfront mansions take precedence.
I reluctantly agreed with the Council decision not to appeal this finding, because the advice was that we were unlikely to win an appeal because of the need to find an error in law. As a Council we will regroup and reconsider other options for providing access to the foreshore.
I will continue to actively find a way to allow people to walk and cycle along our foreshore. The loss of access to our coastline is not in keeping with our
history, and a very poor outcome for our waterfront city.
* thanks to the EDO for their useful summary of the RMPAT judgement
Threat to creative Hobart

On Monday 13 July,  I joined the Hobart arts community to hear from Tony Grybowski of the Australia Council for the Arts about recent changes made to federal arts funding. These changes were announced by Senator George Brandis with the establishment of his new thought-bubble, the National Program for Excellence in the Arts.
Local arts organisations are a fundamental part of the fabric of Hobart. These organisations will be devastated by funding cuts of over $104m, after cuts of $120m made in last year’s Federal Budget. Money will be transferred from smaller regional companies to larger festivals and institutions in the mainland capital cities. 98% of the arts industry in Tasmania will not qualify for funding through this new ‘national program for excellence’.

That’s why I seconded a motion by Ald Burnet, passed by Council, to acknowledge the importance of the arts sector to Hobart’s economic, social and cultural health, and raise concerns about the impact of the cuts.  Council will make a submission to the
Senate Inquiry established to look into this.

The Greens initiated the Senate inquiry, to hear from the arts community which has thus far been left out of the discussions.

Hobart City Council provides in-kind and actual funding support to a range of organisations, performances and festivals. However, our resources don’t stretch far enough, so it’s essential we speak out on this issue! Submissions close 17 July.
To AirBnB or not BnB

Is Council going in too hard against the little guy doing AirBnB to earn some extra money?  I like AirBnB - I like all types of sharing economy car share, bike sharing, job sharing! I've used AirBnB myself and intend to what are Council’s rules?

As I’ve said before in this newsletter, planning laws are often subject to judgement calls and discretion – good for flexibility, but tricky for certainty. Whether you need to get Council permission for your AirBnB rentals depends on the degree to which you are using your home for this purpose.

The key question to ask: is there a change of use? Is your house or a room in your house set up for regular renting out for holiday accommodation? Or is your use of AirBnB occasional, short bursts of rentals for just a few days now and then? If it’s the latter, Council is not interested. If it’s the former, Council is interested, and there are a few steps that you need to take in order to be an official provider of visitor accommodation, who regularly rents out a room.

In residential zones throughout Hobart (outside of Battery Point) you’re allowed to provide visitor accommodation provided three criteria are met – that is (a) the accommodation is in existing buildings;  (b) has a floor area of no more than 160m2 and; (c) provides for parking on-site. You would need to spend $150 to lodge a once-off application, but if you can tick those three boxes you'll have your permit. Where your proposal does not meet these criteria, approval would then be discretionary and require a further advertising fee of $250. This may get complicated if your neighbours don’t like the idea of the visitor accommodation.

So while there are a few rules around this, it’s certainly still an option available to many people! Check the
HCC website for more information and contacts.
Happy birthday Town Hall!

I’ve joined another Committee! Not that I really need another meeting to go to, but I’m keen to be part of organising the 150th birthday celebrations for our wonderful Town Hall.

From September 2016 there’ll be a focus on the Town Hall and some of its stories. One of my favourites is the story of the ‘Tasmanian Nightingale’ Amy Sherwin (1855-1935). Born near Huonville, she returned to Hobart in 1887, following her meteoric rise to fame appearing in opera houses around the world. Hailed as the greatest soprano of her age, she was met by Hobart’s Lord Mayor and 4000 people lining the streets, before she performed in Town Hall. On another visit, a group of Hobart gentlemen unharnessed her horses and themselves dragged her carriage though the streets. Amy is now almost forgotten despite being the first Australian singer to make an overseas impact, before Dame Nellie Melba.

The 150th anniversary is a fitting time to pay tribute to people like Amy and many other amazing lives connected to our Town Hall. Please let me know your suggestions, and if you have photographs or stories you’d like to contribute.
Speed limits

I’m glad there’s currently a community debate about the broader solutions for tackling Hobart’s transport issues.

There are a lot of strong opinions expressed on social media and elsewhere, many unnecessarily vitriolic, against any suggestion of changing urban speed limits.

But when it comes to reducing speed limits in residential and shopping areas, we should stop and look at what the data tell us. There’s plenty of science that shows a small drop in speed has a big impact on safety.

Higher speeds mean greater risk of death for pedestrians. Like this evidence, from the
Curtin-Monash Accident Research Centre:
Full decision of the RMPAT (pdf download)




Pic: The George Brandis Live Art Experience




Amy Sherwin,
Tasmanian Mail, 1897 (TAHO)

Commemorative plaque at 59 Harrington St, Hobart

Mercury, 30 June
Noddy and Big Ears drove right into each other!
Please stay in touch!

I'd love to hear your ideas and opinions, and receive your feedback on Council decisions.

Email me at
Call me on 0423222149
Write to me at Town Hall, Macquarie Street, Hobart 7001.
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Previous editions:
Newsletter 1 (Jan 2015)
Newsletter 2 (Feb 2015)
Newsletter 3 (April 2015)
Newsletter 4 (May 2015)

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