The planned appeal against GP Hotels' five-star Launceston establishment helps the argument of those in favour of the state government's proposed Major Projects legislation.
City of Launceston councillors - elected representatives acting as the planning authority - approved the $80 million development a fortnight ago.
The councillors agreed 11-1 that the 43-metre high hotel would go along way to resurrecting a neglected part of the city. Extensive work from all parties went in to ensure the impact on the area would be minimal and the area's manufacturing history remains a key element of the modernisation.
Progression with prudence.
Yet Launceston Heritage Not Highrise - an unelected group with no traceable membership base - have decided to exercise its civil right and appeal the council's decision to the Resources Management Planning Appeals Tribunal, because they say the development is too high. The objection reads almost like a carbon copy of what stalled $50 million from being spent on the construction of the Gorge Hotel. While resident groups and individuals have a right to have a say in the planning process, given COVID-19 challenges and the state of the economy, it's clear the need for change is urgent. There is widespread discontentment with the existing, outdated planning system, and the Major Projects Bill will allow for a smooth transition for such projects without the micro-level of scrutiny and power afforded to minority groups.
There will still be high standards for developers to meet, but if met, the fear of these sorts of appeals will hopefully be abated. There must be blanket guidelines for all councils to make it easier for builders and developers to navigate and have a clear understanding of the rules and standards required before they submit a proposal.
While the state government has ruled out intervening to save GP Hotels from an appeal, it has been spruiking the Major Projects Bill for a long time, saying it will reform projects and support development.
The time for talk on this legislation is over - it's time for action. Tasmania's reputation as being "open to investors" is at stake.