City of Launceston vote to rescind original St John Street plan for bus stops

CONTROVERSIAL: The part of the St John Street redevelopment which related to moving the bus stops was rescinded at Monday's council meeting.
CONTROVERSIAL: The part of the St John Street redevelopment which related to moving the bus stops was rescinded at Monday's council meeting.

A decision to move the St John Street bus stops has been suspended while the council investigates other options to ensure the “best decision” for the city is made.

Alderman Ted Sands brought forward the notice of motion to rescind the council’s endorsement of the bus stop portion of the St John Street redevelopment. 

He said the Pitt and Sherry study in Launceston’s CBD bus exchange showed the only reason the stops were not moved was due to economic reasons.

Chamber of Commerce president Tim Holder and Cityprom executive officer Steve Henty both spoke in support of moving the bus stops.

“There are other better places that would make more sense, St John Street has a vibrant future ahead of it where the richest of [the] City Heart [project] can play itself out,” Mr Holder said.

He said the argument to move the bus stops away from the front of retail stores was the same argument against moving the bus stops.

Mr Henty said without a complete relocation there would be a permanent restriction of trades like hospitality in the area.

“The advice from Cityprom members has been overwhelmingly in favour of a relocation … some of the members are concerned that they have not been adequately consulted,” he said.

Mr Henty called on the aldermen to revisit and expand on Pitt and Sherry’s 2014 study.

Alderman Hugh McKenzie said while he had championed the relocation of the bus stops, a balance must also be struck which supported bus users.

“[For] the people who are less able, the elderly and people with young children, we need to have a spot where they can get off in a reasonable spot,” he said.

“We need to be more innovative about the way that we think about these kinds of things. Clearly we have a problem, Launceston’s cross hairs are Brisbane and St John streets and we’ve cut off one of the cross hairs.”

The re-invigoration of St John Street was not happening purely to include a bus stop move, Alderman Danny Gibson said.

He said it was just one part of a larger project to bring new life into the entire block.

“When that motion was unanimously passed [in April] neither the Chamber or Cityprom were present to speak of their dissatisfaction … [but] there is a genuine feeling that we can do better,” he said.

“I think here we have an opportunity to reexamine our decision making process with the community and all other interested parties, to get the best possible outcome for our city.”

He said the interested groups were not “going to fight against” council or “criticise from the sidelines” and instead they must work together.

Mayor Albert van Zetten said the decision showed the council was willing to listen to the public, despite when their feedback was offered.

However, he said moving the bus stops to the Myer car park would be costly because the council did not own the land and would have to pay more than $6 million to redevelop the area.