Northern Tasmanians should be excited by the City of Launceston council's approval of the $70-80 million Global Premium Hotels development for Cimitiere, Tamar and William streets.
Not only does the development show there is still confidence in the region's economy amid a pandemic and likely recession, but it is also a project like no other the city has seen before. The 170 jobs created during construction, and a further 300 when the hotel opens, will give jobseekers and the construction industry hope.
It is a unique opportunity to attract a new brand of traveller to Launceston, fill a conference centre void with a capacity to host 590 people and to revitalise heritage buildings that have been derelict for far too long. It will be the first five-star hotel the city has seen. And converting the existing ex-Rankin and Bond Brass Founders' shop into general retail and hire use only adds to the benefits. Yes, it is 12 storeys high and 40.3-metres tall, but on a low contour, it will not look out of place. It is adjacent to the almost complete Verge Hotel and will work in nicely with the already approved infilling of the Gasworks Gasometer with an art gallery and the proposed multi-storey car park on Cimitiere Street.
Many of the submissions against said it was too tall and pointed out the smaller Gorge Hotel was knocked back by the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal because of height. Some also said it was too ugly. But this area is nowhere near as culturally sensitive as the Cataract Gorge gateway. Architectural aesthetics are subjective and something not everyone is going to agree on.
Just because the landscape is going to look slightly different doesn't mean all progress should be roadblocked.
If developments meet the planning scheme they should be given the right to proceed. The developers have put in a lot of work to layer and setback the tallest levels and mix new buildings with old facades.
This development will be a catalyst for further investment and will help revitalise Launceston into a modern city that is not so reliant on traditional retail businesses.