Hobart rides $215m construction boom

Lenna Hotel owner Lloyd Clark, right, and project manager Dean Coleman ahead of the $60m development at the site. Picture: Chris Kidd.

The Hobart City Council issued development permits worth $82 million in January this year as it heads toward a five-year high.

The bumper January helped boost the tally for the first seven months of this financial year to a whopping $215 million. Last financial year the total was $203 million.

And that figure is expected to soar in coming months with a further $90 million worth of developments currently being advertised.

However, one Hobart alderman is concerned that the lack of published detail around high-level development applications could deter residents from having their say on multi-million-dollar proposals.

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Alderman Anna Reynolds told the Mercury that many Hobart residents would not even be aware that the projects were being planned under the council’s current advertising system.

“The current system is not user friendly or transparent enough,” she says.

Two multi-million-dollar developments are online for public comment — the $60 million expansion of heritage Battery Point hotel Lenna including a new 85-room, boutique hotel on the existing car park site; and a $30 million, 200-plus room, nine-storey proposal for the site of a rug and tile centre on Macquarie St previously knocked back by the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal.

Lenna Hotel development Hobart

An artist’s impressions of the proposed development of Lenna Hotel in Battery Point.

The advertised documents for the Lenna and Macquarie St developments were posted to the council’s online portal for feedback on January 30 and 31.

Members of the public wanting to make representations on either development must do so by this Friday for Lenna and Monday, February 18 in the case of the Macquarie St development.

“The little text heavy signs and the hard to navigate website fails to communicate to the public about the major projects being planned in the city,” Ald Reynolds says.

It demonstrates just how booming the city is at the moment

“With a few modest reforms we could make our planning process much more accessible to residents interested in major projects.

“I would like to see us learning from cities like Fremantle that provide really accessible information to the community about large development applications.”

The West Australian city of Fremantle actively discloses major projects and large amounts of detail online.

It was a bumper month for developments in Hobart last month with 39 permits issued from January 1 to January 31 to the value of $82,425,503, taking the current value of building permits in Hobart for the entire 2017-18 financial year to $215 million — already the highest for any of the past five financial years.

Chief in the $82 million-month were two major permits issued for the $689 million Royal Hobart Hospital development — a $73 million permit for a new building and main stage and $4 million for alterations and additions to the hospital’s service tunnel.

Royal Hobart Hospital development

The beginning of major building works at the Royal Hobart Hospital. Picture: Sam Rosewarne.

Chair of the council’s city planning committee Alderman Jeff Briscoe said the $90 million worth of developments being advertised off the back of a $82 million month showed just how healthy the activity was in Hobart at the moment.

“It demonstrates just how booming the city is at the moment,” he says.

“It’s extremely good for Hobart as long as we make sure that we follow the planning scheme and protect the city.”

Hobart general manager Nick Heath says he hopes the investment continues in the city.

“They are certainly big numbers,” he says.

“I think they are good numbers and I think they indicate that Hobart is a good place to invest in.”

Ald Briscoe says if council could improve the information available for the public then it was worth investigating.

“On the face of it seems attractive but the devil is in the detail,” he says.

This article from The Mercury first appeared as “Hobart enjoying $215 million development boom”.