Let’s talk about height, Hobart City

In light of recent planning approvals for several buildings in Hobart, the Property Council today encouraged the Hobart community to have an open and honest debate about building height. 

“The Property Council supports a community discussion regarding building heights.  Far too often the debate is simplistic and doesn’t consider the economic and community benefits of specific clever architectural designs which showcase sympathetic solutions,” Executive Director TAS, Brian Wightman said.

Recently approved taller buildings in the city include the new Royal Hobart Hospital building (68m), the UTAS Melville Street student housing project (40m), the Myer/Crowne Plaza Hotel (53m), and the Palace Hotel (63m).  Proposals currently before Hobart City Council include Fragrance Group’s hotels proposed for Collins and Davey Streets which would be taller again at a reported 83m and 120m.

The Property Council called for a more sophisticated approach concerning decisions regarding the height issue in planning applications.

The Tasmanian Division has led the calls for Development Assessment Panels whose decisions would reduce the politics in development assessment. 

“The current applications before the Hobart City Council and the community debate which has flowed highlight the reasons why Panels, representing the State, Local Government and independent experts, should assess proposals of significant economic benefit.

“The Development Assessment Panel could also be linked to a Design Review Panel to ensure that the highest design quality is achieved for major projects, as is done in NSW,” he said.

The Property Council called for a discretionary height limit linked to a specific public benefit test that would create certainty for both developers and the community. 

 “The provision of affordable housing, public infrastructure, art works, public open spaces, and environmental sustainability as community benefits related to large scale developments should be objectively considered without the fear of political ramifications,” he said.

Mr Wightman encouraged the Tasmanian community to consider the importance of the jobs that the property and construction sector delivers in Tasmania when investors and developers have confidence in decision-making processes.

“A focus on continuous economic growth will be underpinned by the property and construction sector but this does not have to be at the expense of the liveability or beauty of our cities,” he said.  

Media contact: Brian Wightman, Executive Director Tasmania | bwightman@propertycouncil.com.au