Advocacy, Access, Action

We are the independent voice for Greater Hobart Small to Medium Business. Our aim is to create and maintain the best environment for small/medium business to be able to both start and flourish within the Greater Hobart locale.

Objectives

To provide advocacy and lobbying on behalf of members To provide regular monthly low cost networking events To obtain information on local issues and ideas from members.

MEDIA RELEASE

Representation for DA 21-609 – our fight against Closure of Melville Street for UTAS

Representation against the DA 21-609 

The area

The project is located in Melville St between Elizabeth and Argyle Streets covering both sides of the road.

A portion of this project will take place in an area zoned Commercial (23.0)

The built portion will take place in an area zoned Central Business (22).

https://iplan.tas.gov.au/pages/plan/book.aspx?exhibit=hobips

The intersection at Patrick Street and Elizabeth Street is a known blackspot.

Project Cost

$680 000

Nearby Development

“Penny Lane” a recent development which required the demolition of ‘McCanns Model World” building (139 Elizabeth Street) for pedestrian/active transport access. 

Relevant Zone purpose Statements from Planning Scheme

 

22.1.1.1

To provide for business, civic and cultural, community, food, hotel, professional, retail and tourist functions within a major centre serving the region or sub-region.

22.1.1.2

To maintain and strengthen Hobart’s Central Business District and immediate surrounds including, the waterfront, as the primary activity centre for Tasmania, the Southern Region and the Greater Hobart metropolitan area with a comprehensive range of and highest order of retail, commercial, administrative, community, cultural, employment areas and nodes, and entertainment activities provided.

UTAS

UTAS is a registered charity

From UTAS’s enabling legislation

“6.   Functions of the University

            (e) to provide educational and research facilities appropriate to its other functions;

(g) to engage in activities which promote the social, cultural and economic welfare of the community and to make available for those purposes the resources of the University.

7.   Powers of the University

(1)  The University has power to do, both in Tasmania and elsewhere, all things necessary or convenient to be done for or in connection with the performance of its functions and, in particular, has power –”

ISSUES

Negative business impact

It is our contention that this development will negatively impact local retail small businesses as well as our professional service business in Patrick Street.

In 2021 research found that 77% of people arrive via motor vehicle of which 23% are passengers. https://www.transport.tas.gov.au/roads_and_traffic_management/about_state_roads/plansstrategies/small_tiles/greaterhobarthouseholdtravelsurvey ] 

Reduction in parking and road access negatively impacts at least approximately ¾ of people travelling to the city.  Our customer base, like so many centralised small businesses situated in the CBD and outskirts rely on a broad client base stretching across the entire of Greater Hobart.  Only a small portion of clients are located in the Hobart City Council area.

The client base for most small businesses being NOT from Hobart City Council area was made clear when lockdown imposed the 5km restriction on travel to purchase food items.  Stall holders at the Farm Gate market noted both new faces attending but overall a massive decline in attendance.   The customer base is broad and traffic networks need to be designed to respect this.

We noticed significant negative impact from inner city developments requiring smaller parking provision such as the installation of the Mid town Parklets. The Melville Street project will remove a further 10 parking spaces to an already under supplied area for parking. Our own business is blocks away from this project site yet we regularly get calls from clients who could not find parking for blocks around us, and thus cancelled their appointments.  This in no way strengthens Hobart CBD for the provision of retail or professional services when our clientele cannot reach us.

Retaining Melville St’s dual way character would allow for UTAS staff, students, and customers to surrounding businesses to be dropped off, and picked up in a more flexible manner.

This project seeks to remove this current flexibility in the road network, while at the same time duplicating provision already allowed for by the “Penny Lane” created by the demolition of the McCanns Model world building.

The area behind Penny Lane is quite large.  There is no apparent use of either this area nor the ‘green space’ supplied further up Elizabeth Street where not only seating is provided but also a television for entertainment.

Buses now travel along Brisbane Street due to physical and scheduling limits imposed by councils narrowing of more central roads such as Elizabeth Street and associated network congestion.  It seems fair to assert that even public transport is being displaced further from the CBD center onto roads also not designed to carry them. We have seen this with multiple occasions busses travelling down the hill at Patrick Street and turning at the blackspot intersection onto Elizabeth Street.

Given the whole point of additional green space and the narrowing of the roads was to encourage the public’s use of public transport it is extraordinary to see that public transport has also been removed from the areas.  It implies that no real planning has been made to ensure genuine access for any member of the public outside the immediate 2km radius of the CBD.

The reduction in parking also has a significant negative impact on local businesses nearby.  Trial parklets in Elizabeth Street have attracted rubbish in the form of cigarette butts and public smoking in the area, both day and night.  Whilst it is clear to see that the use and movements of the trial parklets is being monitored, we note with concern that no data has been made public for consideration BEFORE a similar project, being the Melville Street project  is put up for consideration. 

Planning impacts

This project seems to contravene

Parking and access code purpose.

E6.1.1.1 (a)     ensure safe and efficient access to the road network for all users, including drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists;

 By      

1.  Diverting extra traffic via Patrick/Elizabeth Street intersection a known blackspot

2.  By subjecting other roads and road users to increased congestion.

3.  By decreasing the flexibility of the road network to handle adverse events.

4.  By preventing easier drop off of staff and students to the university.

5. By reducing access for freight delivery for local small businesses

Is it appropriate to be decided upon at this time?

Throughout the planning scheme there are methods to handle a shortfall of parking required for a development.  It is noted that different developments require differing amounts of parking to be provided.

This development is proposed under the Passive Recreation land use.

“Passive recreation

use of land for informal leisure and recreation activities principally conducted in the open. Examples include public parks, gardens and playgrounds, and foreshore and riparian reserves.

Hobart Interim Planning Scheme 2015 – Administration”

Parking as a logical result, is not required.

Yet this project as it stands will require the removal of parking, a negative value overall.  In no portion of the planning scheme are negative values countenanced. A similar issue arises if we are to consider the setback of the built works, on the road, as the building is on the road the setback is surely negative?

As the planning scheme defaults to all things outside the provisions of the scheme are prohibited. Does this not mean that this development too should be prohibited? How often are major CBD roads closed and the underlying land granted for the purpose of a developer in Tasmania?

Title/Governance questions

As the land will need to revert from a highway to the crown to allow for a development of this sort (road closure) does this not allow the university to seek title of the land, something once used for the provision of transport options to all to then be granted to UTAS as it will own the structures contained on this land?

Given that it is only UTAS’s planned structure that is classified as temporary (5+ years) what assurances to the contrary do we have that this is not simply a land grab?

Surely UTAS should have obtained sufficient land for its purposes? Would any other developers be afforded the luxury of provision of street real estate for its development?

Does UTAS via it’s “Rates equivalent deal”, the details of which are not public only the media release, have a fiduciary advantage with its dealings with the council?

“The parties will meet annually in March to discuss:

  • The frequency of instalments of the rates equivalency payments;
  • The application or distribution of the rates equivalency payments;
  • The identification of works Council intends to undertake to improve and enhance public areas adjacent to or in close proximity to land owned by the University.” -UTAS media release.

With respect to UTAS’s enabling legislation if it is aware of negative impacts of its development to the “economic welfare of the local small business community” and that this development is superfluous to “providing educational and research facilities appropriate to its other functions” as it is a duplication of the “Penny Lane” how does it justify this development with respect to its guiding legislation?

Traffic Network impacts

The current traffic environment.

  1.  The intersection of Patrick Street and Elizabeth Street is a known blackspot.
  2. Warwick Street, Elizabeth Street, Campbell Street, and Murray Street are all subject to regular congestion and gridlock during the afternoon rush hour. These are common occurrences.
Congestion Warwick Street, Harrington Street, Murray Street, and Elizabeth Street. Warwick Street is congested westbound beyond the Trinity Church on the skyline  Congestion Patrick Street, Elizabeth Street, Murray Street and the Patrick Street closure  
Congestion over the hill
Traffic congestion Elizabeth Street Stretching to North Hobart (southbound)Traffic congestion Elizabeth Street Stretching to North Hobart (northbound)
  1.  The data chosen to model the traffic implications was sourced from 2019 which coincided with a lull in construction works around the UTAS developments.  It is material to note that at this point in time the public was largely unaware of the availability of the car park underneath the student accommodation building.
  2. No provision has been taken for network (traffic) demands from the University project itself, as it will not be apparent in the 2019 network data.  A realistic sample is only likely 6-8 weeks after the beginning of the 2022 semester as students start using the city buildings.
  3. Patrick Street is under a partial closure due to building works (between Elizabeth and Murray) Streets

This representation calls into question significant aspects to the traffic analysis

We query

  1. The data chosen to model the traffic implications of the project appears flawed and non- representative of the true traffic flows.
  2. The lack of acknowledgement of increased flow through a known blackspot, nor any modelling of the resultant risk (Patrick/Elizabeth Street intersection)
  3. Lack of modelling of the project’s effect on congestion/gridlock, nor its possible contribution to such.
  4. Probable loss of flexibility in the traffic network, and ability for some to escape congested conditions. This is particularly relevant in light of future plans of lane closure throughout Melville Street.
  5. No inclusion of the effect of the current Patrick Street closure between Elizabeth and Murray Streets
  6. How does GHD explain how an increase of traffic +72 vehicles per hour INTO the intersection of Elizabeth and Melville Streets (southbound) result in decreased traffic volume in all directions OUT OF the intersection.  A simple nodal analysis the sum of vehicles into(+) and out of(-) an intersection must total 0 (teleportation of a car is currently not possible)

    I would especially query this result due to its relevance to the DA. How is the below result attained?

The GHD report includes “The intention of the reallocation of the road space is to provide

better active transport outcomes in terms of both access and safety” This appears to be at the expense of existing road users, local shop owners and the broader community at large.

This is a duplication of the pedestrian provision via “Penny Lane” (The demolition of McCanns model world building) which surely already achieves the stated intention?

Other scenarios in the DA indicate a more broad scale modification to the traffic network are planned for the future.

Consultation issues.

The contribution of McCanns Music’s opinion needs to be called into question due to the fiduciary relationship of the sale of the McCanns buildings to UTAS and UTAS providing a new home for McCanns Music in the foyer of the Student Accommodation Building.  This is a clear conflict of interest and as such should have at least been declared or removed from public forum.

Moreover in a tightly knit network of small businesses where parking and access is limited, not seeking responses from those on Elizabeth street seems unconscionable.  We in Patrick Street expect to feel the impact.  Small businesses in Elizabeth Street and surrounds are rightly concerned about their future.

The anger over the existing parklets in Elizabeth Street from small traders in the area is significant.  Representations from a number of local businesses are likely as we have never had the opportunity to raise our concerns nor to see the full detail of the project.

With HCC’s Midtown development project plans were originally presented without a turning lane on Macquarie Street much to the consternation of local business operators.  The HCC repainted the line to address concern at the time.

What is far more concerning is that AGAIN the lane removal is highlighted within this project as one of the scenarios planned as part of this Development Application.  It appears that there has been possible collusion or fore-knowledge of this current Development application.

There is ample evidence demonstrated that this development application is simply the first of many development applications for sections of Melville Street.  The scenarios provided as part of the Development application imply that UTAS is intending carve out sections of the street one at a time. 

The parklets in Elizabeth Street were assured to be trials, and that UTAS had nothing to do with them. It does however appear to be significantly influenced by UTAS on their upkeep.  Once the dead flora was publicly noted, in particular mentioned to UTAS staff how quickly the planter boxes were revitalized at great expense.

These new temporary parklets look like permanent fixtures, but of a short durability. To be approved before any assessment of the success of the trial parklets.  The HCC after direct questioning, to council, did not admit to any monitoring of the usage of the trial parklet area even knowing there is a pedestrian monitor in place there. No data has been supplied publically.

Pedestrian monitor on reverse sidePedestrian Monitor

When asked if financial proof of the impact of the trial parklets would be considered as part of the trials assessment we were told by the council officer sent to quell concerns that success or otherwise is up to Councillors.

We feel that we have been consistently deceived by the whole consultation process, and not allowed to have a say.

This is highlighted by the timing of the council approval process, the earliest it may be considered by council is December, and delays and it’s likely to be over Christmas.

With us having 14 days to make representations, of which we are not remotely experienced, and council staff saying that we are simply required in our representations to state how the project affects us, are we being deceived again, such that we can’t present an argument that will stand in planning matters?

Would the council accept other Development Applications’ of this significant nature from other sources such as the Fragrance Group? Is any development that requires a temporary road closure now able to gain access to crown land for their own development due to the fact that normal services have been unavailable for a length of time?  If I were to build an apartment block in the middle of the city, could I request that the council provide me with a road for green space? Would they assist with the whole process?

There is an appearance of bias, with major scope for conflicts of interest with this Development Application.

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