Image for What Happened to the Public Reserve along the Droughty Hills?

After writing an article recently on my 1996 proposal for the Sky Walk trail, including a wildlife and people crossing over the South Arm Highway ( HERE ) I checked the List Map to see that reserves that I had been party to creating, were on the map.

The extension of the Knopwood Hill recreation area could be seen, created in 1998 as part of a subdivision settlement for a Howrah Hills property, to allow residents a way to legally walk to the top of Knopwood Hill, and also extend the Sky Walk along the hills.

I was pleased to see that more land had been added above the Howrah Quarry, adding a bit more to the Sky Walk, for when the whole trail is created from Bellerive and along the hills to Droughty Point.

One of the most difficult battles was fought in 2003, with a subdivision along the Droughty Hills.

I had lodged a representation calling for an extension of the Sky Walk.

It turned out that I was the only person to lodge a representation, but many other people were very interested in the outcome, seeing the need for public reserve land along the Droughty Hills, rather than a line of houses marching along the hill-line.

The first round in the Tribunal was unsuccessful, with costs being awarded against me.

That hurt.

Further opportunity for public representations came with the next stage in the subdivision to the south, with a petition doing the rounds, many letters sent flying in all directions, and a good number of strong representations calling for public reserve land along the Droughty Hills.

Rather than face an endless fight with a stronger groundswell of opinion in the Tasmanian community, because Droughty Point is a greater Hobart skyline issue, the owners agreed to the creation of a 27 hectare public reserve, running for 2 kilometres along the skyline.

This was a wonderful addition to the Sky Walk on the ground, and in the sky.

After such a huge and expensive battle, and 14 years later, I look at the List Map, but see no sign of any public reserve.

Am I suffering from some false memory of the past?

An image from the List Map is included below, and there is no sign of a 2 kilometre long public reserve on those hills.

What is going on?

Enquiries to the Tribunal drew a curt reply ~

“The Tribunal is not the relevant body to whom this query should be directed. I am unable to assist you any further.”

Apparently, the Tribunal takes your money, and runs.

With no indication of “the relevant body” given, I directed an enquiry to the Minister for Local Government and Planning, and gained a little more insight ~

“As this is not land owned by the State I contacted Clarence City Council to seek some advice in relation to the area.”

and

“This area is a mix of Council land and private land with the private land to be progressively transferred to Council as subdivision progresses.”

How could 27 hectares of public reserve land be approved with a subdivision 14 years ago, and that land still be in the possession of the property owner?

A letter from the Clarence City Council confirmed that the public reserve land, after 14 years, had still not been transferred to the Clarence City Council ~

“A report detailing a proposed planning scheme amendment (A-2010/12) was considered by Council at its meeting on 4 July 2011. The report contained a background section relevant to that proposal and is included for your information below. The section most relevant to your enquiry is highlighted at 1.2 indicating that the land is yet to be transferred to Council.”

The relevant section from a 2011 document reads ~

“The higher portion of the property above the subject site was approved in conjunction with an amendment to the previous Eastern Shore Planning Scheme 1963 (SD-2003/106) to allow for 12 lots of approximately 7ha and a hilltop lot of 27ha to be transferred to Council.  Although this subdivision is considered to have “substantially commenced” the lots have not yet been created and the public open space lot has not been transferred to Council.”

Is that amazing?

The public wins a great battle in the Tribunal 14 years ago, but the gate remains locked, and the land remains locked up in private hands.

What is anyone to think?

Will time run out, and a new subdivision application be lodged?

Will the community have to fight for a public reserve along the Droughty Hills, all over again?

Who is responsible for this slow motion debacle?

The Clarence City Council?

The Tasmanian Government?

What do the candidates for Pembroke have to say about this?

The Clarence City councillors?

Tasmanian politicians?

Members of the Tasmanian community with an interest in the greater Hobart skyline, public reserves, and walking trails?

image
The List Map showing no sign of the reserve created in 2003 in a Tribunal hearing. The List Map is a very reliable on-line service by the Tasmanian Government, showing property boundaries and land use, and is swiftly updated: http://maps.thelist.tas.gov.au/listmap/app/list/map

*Kim Peart is a visual artist, researcher and writer. In 1996 Kim proposed a walking trail along the hills from Bellerive to Droughty Point, which he called the Sky Walk, and engaged in land and bushcare activities in Clarence. In 1998 University of Tasmania students made a study of the Sky Walk. In January 2007 Kim was included in The A List of Movers and Shakers in Tasmania by the Mercury at 115 in regard to, “An urban bushland conservationist who has worked tirelessly over the years to maintain walking tracks and protect wildlife from the encroachment of bush-front housing developments.” Kim now lives in Ross, where he is promoting the creation of walking trails around the area.

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