Excellence in building design should come before building height limits, says Launceston Chamber of Commerce chief executive Neil Grose.
The Launceston CBD Building Heights and Massing Study by heritage and architectural consultant Paul Davies was commissioned by the City of Launceston Council.
The study outlined a number of recommendations for Launceston, examined how building heights and setback controls could be developed to support the future development of the city, and aimed to provide certainty to developers.
Mr Davies also split the city into four precincts with differing height limits.
He said Precinct A, consisting of the western edge of the city, was the most “contentious area”.
Precinct A had the highest ability for development, with a maximum approvable height of 30 metres and a maximum height at street front of 15 metres.
The other three precincts would all have a maximum approvable height of 24 metres, with a maximum street height of 12 metres.
Mr Davies said for those wanting to exceed the maximum limit a planning scheme amendment could be made, however there were “very few developments that would go that path”.
Mr Grose said the Chamber would recommend to the City of Launceston Council that a design review panel be implemented to review all new constructions in the precincts outlined in the Paul Davies report.
“Launceston has some of the most remarkable and architecturally-significant heritage buildings in Australia, the integrity of which should be preserved,” he said.
“However, we should not exclude new contemporary buildings which can enhance this city simply because of height.
“Other cities in Australia have recognised the folly of restricting height without reference to design and have implemented design review panels to assess new buildings according to their design and sense of place: Launceston has a clear obligation to do likewise.”
Mr Grose said the key performance criteria of any new buildings should be what it looks like, and how it fits with the surrounding buildings and streetscape.
“Under the recommendations of the Paul Davies report, a building exhibiting outstanding design excellence higher than the recommended limits would not be permitted, yet a short building which is inherently ugly could be built,” he said.
“In Hobart we can see clear examples of how an absolute height limit can allow for inappropriate buildings which fall under that limit to be constructed – Launceston has an opportunity to learn from those examples and implement a system of design excellence as the key performance criteria.”
Mr Grose said the chamber had submitted a response to the study outlining issues relating to the proposed setback requirements, restrictions on the combining of land titles in certain areas of the city, the recommendation of absolute height limits, and the “potentially flawed” planning approval process for developers who wished to seek planning scheme amendments.