Image for ‘Fragrance highrise a backdrop to community concerns over development laws’

First published September 29

A weakening of planning laws and community engagement, undemocratic ‘major project’ legislation and a taxpayer funded PR campaign are all targets of a community action today outside the potential Fragrance high rise hotel site in Collins Street.

The event was organised by the Planning Matters Alliance Tasmania (PMAT) a growing network of almost 50 community, environment and social justice groups working together to oppose the Hodgman Government’s gutting of planning laws.

Participants were wrapped in ‘hazard tape’, symbolising the lack of transparency, good governance and community say in the way Tasmanian development decisions will be made in the future.

“Premier Hodgman is spending tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on TV and newspaper ads that spin his weakened planning laws as cutting red tape,” said PMAT coordinator Sophie Underwood. “In reality Premier Hodgman is cutting corners, community engagement and longstanding planning protections for the things Tasmanian’s love, like privacy, sunlight, amenity, heritage and local character.

“These laws roll out the red carpet for property developers, at the expense of community engagement, good governance and a genuine vision for what Tasmania wants to be in the future.

“We’ve got our own tape, and it symbolises the dangers of lifting proper development controls, giving development decisions to a Minister alone and removing the voice of the Tasmanian community in development decisions in the places they love.

PMAT has printed 10 km of hazard tape for use by local groups at events and community engagement activities, to highlight the local impact of poor planning and governance at the local level.

“Planning-related conflicts have been emerging around the state, including the Fragrance high rises in Hobart and Launceston, privatisation of public waterfront land at Boat Harbour, legislation to give a leg-up to the controversial cable car project and more.

“The Tasmanian Planning Scheme is creating a planning hazard,” said Ms Underwood. “This event is about bringing people together and inspiring them to get involved by using the tape in creative way to highlighting planning issues that are important to them, and sharing the image on social media.

“The fact Premier Hodgman and Planning Minister Peter Gutwein is spending thousands of dollars of Tasmanian’s money to sell his planning reform is enough to raise suspicion. The ads don’t assist public understanding, invite engagement or explain complex planning changes, they simply spin so called benefits using the rhetorical ‘red tape’ analogy.

“The Fragrance high rise hotels in Hobart and Launceston have become emblematic of the problems with planning and major projects legislation in Tasmania.

“Way out of character, opposed by locals and non-compliant with planning regulations, greedy international developers are looking to exploit Tasmania and a Government that appears willing to prioritise development over good planning, governance and proper public engagement.