TasPIN - 19 April 2016

Planning law changes will change Tassie forever Planning laws are being significantly changed this year. The new Tasmanian Planning Scheme (TPS) is out now on the Tas Planning Commission website and up for public comment till 18th May. Many people are feeling left behind by what will be galloping change in our communities. Once this new TPS is implemented there will be no going back.

All of this has happened with virtually no real public conversation about how we want Tassie to look in the future; how we can best manage the old, plan for the new with the state’s natural and built environment whilst also attracting tourists and new residents. Well said Richard Goodram! In Mercury letters, 12 April, Mr Goodram quotes visitor feedback, writing that people come here for the “clean, green, small, in an attractive architectural setting” which is increasingly attractive in our fast paced world of twenty-first century.

Do people around Tassie know the following?

  1. In the General Residential zone (a very large part of suburban Hobart and other Tasmanian cities), dwellings and units up to twice the height and density of surrounding buildings will be classified as “no permit required”. These buildings will be able to be built without any notice to neighbours or opportunity to comment on how it will affect the character of their area.” The new planning provisions allow much smaller block sizes, increased height and densities, more concrete, more units and minimal garden space. Little regard is given to quality of life. Do not despair though, unit dwellers will be allowed 3 hours of sunlight in the middle of winter in their living space, if they are lucky!
  2. Councillors who are elected to look after their ratepayers and their local area now appear to be largely sidelined by this process and risk losing their ability to stand up for what their community values.
  3. Even these changes aren’t enough for some. There is also a concerted move by the development lobby to undermine the established legal processes by which the rest of us have to abide, at the same time overriding the community’s right to voice an opinion (see Jessica Howard’s Mercury article p2 Sat 2nd April titled “Planning power push”)
  4. There has been no open public discussion to allow people to actually see what our cities, suburbs, environmental areas might look like (a small ad in the Mercury advertising a 429 page document of highly technical planning provisions plus an almost equally lengthy 245 page document of explanatory notes hardly qualifies).

In European cities, people successfully go about their activities within historic spaces, respecting the heritage character and applying a cautious approach – changing as much as necessary, but as little as possible (Burra Charter 2013, cl 3.1). Hobart and indeed all of Tasmania needs a planning system that respects what is wonderful about our island state.

The new planning laws will change this state forever. The government is promoting the new system as “fairer, simpler, faster and cheaper”. A system that makes it faster and cheaper to degrade what makes Tassie unique, what brings visitors to this island, and what residents love is certainly not fairer! Please check out the Tasmanian Planning Commission website and the new state planning provisions (SPPs). Let’s tell the government over the next 4 weeks that to serve current and future Tasmanians we need a planning system that is not only fairer and simpler, but “better”.