SPLASHED on the front page of The Mercury yesterday (October 11) is the revelation by Charles Waterhouse of a huge, 11-storey development in the Hobart CBD. A $40 million hotel and apartment complex proposed by Doherty Hotels after six months of talks with the Hobart City Council and the Tasmanian Heritage Council , and supporting documentation which says the proposal complies with the use, height and siting provisions of the City of Hobart Planning Scheme.

The story sent a shiver down my spine. There are already huge, great ugly buildings in the CBD and, judging by the artist’s impression, this would be another one.

Public objections closed at 5.15pm yesterday (October 11) and at 4.10pm, I hastily lodged a protest : “As a citizen of Hobart, I object to the proposed development because it appears it would be yet another blot on the horizon, without architectural, historical or aesthetic merit.”

Why is it that developers, the Council and the State Government work against the very things that make Hobart special? It’s not that I object to contemporary buildings, quite the contrary. Nor am I against major projects. But I do object to the unleavened lumps that so often disgrace our city. If this monstrosity was on the waterfront, there would be an outcry. But it’s in the CBD and our poor, beleaguered citizens are weary …

Subsumed by the almighty dollar

The pursuit of excellence in design and purpose is subsumed too oft by the almighty dollar. The result? Developments, often on key sites, which do not add anything to the cultural heritage and character of these sites and nothing to the enhancement of Hobart — but they do comply with planning schemes and regulations.

The Hobart City Council should be at the forefront of town planning. Instead, it appears to process development applications.

Strangely, it can approve Zero Davey, at the entrance to the city, yet it can shilly-shally for years over public access to the foreshore. Architectural design aside, Zero Davey might spoil the alignment of buildings in Hunter Street, but the city fathers and mothers used a discretionary clause in the planning scheme to allow the building to exceed the permitted height by 5.5 metres — roughly, one and a half storeys.

But back to the foreshore, or more particularly, the Battery Point foreshore.

I live in Battery Point and have always said that a simple walking track was my preferred option, which I said at the public forum for candidates hosted by the Battery Point Sullivans Cove Community Association last week. The Association, however, seems to have its head in the sand — if not following in the footsteps of Custer’s last stand — on this issue. I have had enough and yesterday resigned from the Association (and yes, I have the receipt for my current membership,
despite whispers to the contrary).

If the Council shilly shallies, the Association obstructs.

A walking track was what I wanted. But I am sick of the obfuscation. That’s right! The stony wall of silence on the issue, with
behind-the-scenes moves to stonewall anything at all happening. Guy Parsons, in his comment on this website, criticises me for treading “too softly,” particularly after my “great series of articles on the difficulties, for the public, of treading (however softly) the southern foreshores of the city.”

I’ve walked on: I support a boardwalk as the way to go.

There is one more public forum on what the candidates have to say. It’s hosted by West Hobart Neighbourhood Watch, at the Lawrenny Court Meeting Hall, 131 Hill Street, today (Wednesday October 12th) at 8pm. I urge all readers to attend — to size up candidates for themselves.

Margaretta Pos is a candidate in the Hobart City Council election. Written and authorised by Margaretta Pos, 13 Crelin St, Battery Point, 7004.

For sure, Mr White