Saturday 17 February 2018

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University of Tasmania event on the oval in Ross, next to the Town Hall

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With only space for one bus to park in the bus parking location in Ross, four buses parking by the Town Hall leaves one over the one disability parking place in Ross.

Do the historic towns and heritage attractions of Tasmania need special oversight by the Tasmanian Government?

Ross is a very popular town with visitors to Tasmania, and as an iconic heritage village, needs special care.

The town is like a little Port Arthur, with its own isle of the dead on a hill, and hosted one of Tasmania’s Convict Female Factories.

Visitors arrive by car, at times pulling a caravan that together takes up three parking spaces, and buses that must also find somewhere to park in Ross.

Considering how tourism is a growth industry in Tasmania, the need for parking space can be expected to grow in Ross.

And then there is the potential for functions, events and receptions in Ross, where weddings in the iconic Uniting Church are frequently followed by a reception in the Town Hall.

Yesterday, the University of Tasmania held a function on the old School Oval (image 1), with buses and cars filling up the street, with one parking over the only disability space in Ross (image 6).

Why is there no plan for a public car park in Ross?

If the number of businesses double or triple, where will all the customers park?

As more grey nomads roll through Ross, with their long vans, where will they park?

As more coach loads of tourists arrive in Ross, where will they park?

As more events and functions are held in Ross, on the oval and in the Town Hall, where will all the patrons park?

And where will the residents of Ross find a place to park, when the streets are filled with cars, caravans and buses.

With nowhere found to park, many travellers will keep driving out of Ross, taking their money with them.

BACKGROUND

The need for a larger parking capacity in Ross was identified in the Ross Bridge Conservation Plan 2003 (image 12), to be located on the site of the Caravan Park (image 11), but this never happened.

In 2016 privately owned land was on the market (see “privately owned land” in image 11), and I wrote to the Council suggesting that they should purchase this land for a public car park in Ross. This did not happen, and the land was sold, and is again privately owned.

Later in 2016 the Council purchased land next to the Man O’Ross Hotel to develop a new town park in Ross.

If the “privately owned land” had been purchased for a car park, walking access to Church Street could have been through the new town park.

Examine image 10 to see just how much unplanned and undeveloped public land there is around Ross.

Did the Council need to buy more land for a new town park?

The old school oval, where the University of Tasmania held an event yesterday, is public land, located next to the public toilets in Ross, and the Town Hall.

Then there is the public land by the river, with views out over the Ross Bridge, the Macquarie River, and the surrounding heritage landscape, right where the belt of main heritage attractions are located in Ross.

WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

With no plan for a public car park in Ross, I fear that the old school oval will become the public car park in Ross, because there is no other location.

How bizarre would that outcome be?

To have a ground next to the public toilets and the Town Hall in Ross that can be used for events, functions, carnivals, and even a farmers market, and have the location at risk of becoming a car park, reveals an absurd lack of planning where it counts.

A policy is already being developed by the Council to use the oval for parking, when there is an event in the Town Hall.

What happens when the event is on the oval, as happened yesterday?

TOWN PARK OR CAR PARK?

Does Ross need a new town park (see image 11), when the need is by far more urgent for a public car park?

As the tourism experience is being messed up in Ross, should the Tasmanian Government take more responsibility for planning matters in heritage towns?

The situation in Ross has been allowed to stumble in the dark, because the Tasmanian Government takes a hands-off approach with the Northern Midlands Council, but is the Council up to the task of planning in Ross?

Failing to include a public car park in Ross, shows that the Council is totally failing in its planning duty.

Bad planning is a drain on the public purse, and undermines the economic potential of a heritage town.

Developing a new town park, which is not needed, costs a large amount of public money, and then developing a public car park in Ross, which is needed, will cost a heap more money.

And if there is nowhere else to go, will it have to go underground (image 9)?

Obviously, an underground car park in Ross is a crazy idea, but so is failure to include a public car park in town planning for a popular attraction.

STATE GOVERNMENT SOLUTION

After the election, whether I am in parliament, or not, I plan to seek the forming of a Ross Heritage Committee, to include Tasmanian Government, the Council and local interests.

A similar committee was formed to work on future plans for the Ross Bridge (image 12).

Now there is a need for a plan and vision for Ross, to identify where the public car park should go, and how this can be made to happen.

Getting the planning mix right needs to include ~

a heritage plan,
a business plan,
an environment plan,
a community plan, and
a cultural plan.

Relying on local Councils to get heritage planning right, not to mention basic town planning, is a gamble with high risk, and in Ross, that gamble is being lost, along with economic opportunities.

Should the Tasmanian government look at an overview body to ensure that all the planning boxes are being ticked with heritage and tourist towns across Tasmania?

There is a precedent for this, with the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority created in 1987.

Ross for instance, has no management plan, so there is no planning guide for the Town.

A heritage oversight committee could be a partnership between the State Government, Council and local interests, and ensure that each heritage town has a management plan, and that all needs are being met, such as a public car park.

If the current approach were working, there would be a focus on delivering a public car park for Ross, rather than an additional and unnecessary public park.

AN EXAMPLE OF THE PROBLEM

The Northern Midlands Council is currently seeking to rezone the old Ross Clinic, so it can be leased commercially (image 7). ~
http://www.iplan.tas.gov.au/Pages/XC.Track.Assessment/SearchAssessment.aspx?id=744

The building is currently empty.

I have suggested to the Council that the building should be dedicated to the interpretation of the art of the Ross Bridge.

I have not yet been able to inspire the Council in this discussion, which would need to include the Tasmanian Government, who own 3D digital images of the 186 stone carvings along both sides of the three arches.

When the Council advertised the rezoning, no mention was made of a Master Plan for the whole property, which includes the Ross Swimming Pool (image 7).

Focusing on part of the property, the need for parking spaces for the Swimming Pool was not included.

Access to the pool has for decades been across the Uniting Church land, and through their gate.

One day the gate was smashed.

The gate has now been replaced, and locked (image 8).

It can but be wondered why the Council assumed that it was OK to access the Ross Swimming Pool across Uniting Church land, and why access and parking was never developed from the street access for the property on Bridge Street.

We now wait to hear what the Planning Commission concludes with this canine breakfast of planning.

A MISSING PLAN

The Ross Swimming Pool property connects with large areas of public land (image 10).

Rather than focus on one small area of this public land around the Swimming Pool, a plan is needed for all the public land in the area, from around the Ross Bridge, and around the Uniting Church, to the Convict Female Factory.

Those are the three main heritage attractions in Ross, and the public land around them is a natural heritage park in waiting (image 11).

It is quite crazy that the planning for the heritage area is neglected, and more land purchased in Ross for an unnecessary new town park, when the need is for a new town car park.

The only way that this unfortunate logjam in planning may be broken, is with heritage oversight planning by the Tasmanian Government.

Relying on the Council to get the heritage planning right, has been tried in Ross, and has failed.

This failure has a financial impact on Tasmania’s economy, when a heritage town like Ross can be contributing so much more.

When a heritage town works better, it creates more employment, and delivers greater pleasure to the community, and for visitors.

Authorised by: Jennifer Bolton, 39A Bridge Street, Ross
Kim Peart, Candidate for Lyons in the Tasmanian election, a lion for Lyons, a tiger for Tasmania