City ready to transform

OPTIMISM met the Launceston City Council's recent unveiling of its vision for the city and outer region for the next 25 years.

The Greater Launceston Plan document set out projects and strategies in community development, infrastructure, the environmental and commercial interests for the North, and gave the region a coherent plan it could pitch to higher levels of government for funding.

The real action will come after community consultation this year when aspects of the plan begin to be implemented, starting with the redevelopment of Launceston's CBD.

On redevelopment, Errol Stewart's plan for the Kings Wharf grain silos was welcome news and attracted a good deal of reader attention - much like his headline-grabbing $70 million tower in Royal Park did in 2012.

The Launceston developer now plans to expand the hotel development outside the silos into a new building to be placed directly behind the structure.

The development will include 128 rooms, eight apartment suites, two penthouses, and restaurant, bar, cafe and conference facilities.

The hotel, which is set to open in 2015, is one part of the transformation of Launceston's industrial North Bank area to a community and tourism space.

The river side of Lindsay Street is destined for a complete overhaul with new parklands, a large playground, a network of walking and cycling trails and a boardwalk to link Kings Wharf, Seaport and the Inveresk precincts.

A sound shell for entertainment has also been mooted.

It is hoped the other side of Lindsay Street will become a bulky good retail precinct, with hardware store Bunnings the first retailer on the 20-hectare site.

Construction on the $47 million 16,000 square-metre store, due to open in the middle of this year began in 2013 once the former Gunns headquarters was flattened.

Bunnings bought the former Ogilvie Park site for $14 million, a year before the failed timber company entered voluntary administration.

The stalled $30 million three-storey retail development at the former CH Smith building in Charles Street continued to attract attention, despite no activity at the site since demolition works were completed 12 months ago.

The proposed Big W development at Kings Meadows attracted similar interest as land sale negotiations continued between Big W developer Emmanuel Kalis and the Launceston Golf Club.

Metro Cinemas resurrected its interest in opening a cinema at Inveresk and a land sale is expected to be finalised early next year.

Woolworths announced its intention to open up a new full-line supermarket on Wellington Street. It is expected construction will begin soon for a January 2015 opening.

The city's future and existing commercial and residential premises will now be protected from a one-in-200-year flood through its new $58.3 flood levee network.

The project started in 2008 and it will officially finish next year with beautification of the levees, some of which will form cycling and walking tracks.

Water and sewerage services continued to reform with the merger of the state's three regional water corporations and overseeing body Onstream into one single corporation TasWater.

Launceston City Council found out this year that it would be hit with a $5.8 million bill by the state corporation next year for its combined sewerage and stormwater system when new urban drainage legislation comes into effect.

The council submitted to the bill's architects that the system should be recognised as unique and that ratepayers should not be burdened with the cost - which works out to be $190 per ratepayer.

Their plea was not acknowledged so now the council will have to negotiate with TasWater over the charge.

Local government likes to let people know that reform of the sector is always happening, and while this claim is debatable, there was no argument over it when it came to council planning schemes.

The process has been slow but detailed.

Statewide planning reform began in 2007 and a statewide planning template was signed off in 2011.

From then, each council developed a tailor-made scheme that fitted their individual needs and that of their region.

Launceston received its interim planning scheme in October 2012 and this year has been dominated by hundreds of hours of public hearings in response to the scheme.

Work on the new Bunnings at Invermay is gathering pace.

Work on the new Bunnings at Invermay is gathering pace.


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