Tasmania - a special place and lifestyle

68% of Tasmanians consider the best thing about living in Tasmania is its lifestyle (Mercury reader survey results, 29 April 2016).

"We live in what must seem the golden age of a blessed land compared to so many people throughout the world and throughout history...As Tasmanians, we enjoy the additional benefits of a clean and beautiful island where it is possible to enjoy a lifestyle the envy of many, where a deserted beach or an unspoilt scenic vista can still be enjoyed, where the frustrations of traffic congestion and long commutes are barely known and where a sense of community still binds neighbours as friends in a way that is but a memory elsewhere." (The Mercury Editorial, 4 January 2017)

The government's new Tasmanian Planning Scheme (State Planning Provisions) will profoundly and irreversibly change the look and feel of Tasmanian communities, residents’ lifestyle and living environment. It is vital that the Tasmanian community understands and supports any major Planning reforms. This is not what is happening under the Hodgman Liberal Government.

Community concerns

Key concerns about the Government's new statewide Planning Scheme include:

  • The people of Tasmania have not been adequately informed or involved in the process of developing this Statewide Planning Scheme which will affect everyone in the State. For example, a couple of small advertisements placed in the public notices about complex new proposed State Planning reforms is far from adequate communication with the public about such important Planning matters.
  • The composition of the Taskforce set up by the Hodgman Liberal Government to reform Tasmania's Planning system was not appropriately balanced to deliver sound, integrated statewide Planning for Tasmania's best possible future. The Taskforce was heavily weighted towards the building and development industry - apparently with a focus on making the planning process cheaper and easier for developers and commercial interests. This approach offers short term gain for some, and long-term loss for many.
  • There are serious concerns that Tasmania’s natural and cultural heritage and the quality of Tasmanians' lifestyles will be negatively impacted as a result of the new State Planning Provisions. Particular issues of concern include:
    • People want to have a meaningful say in protecting, enhancing and shaping the future character of their local area and the places they care about.
    • Planning needs to ensure generous provisions for public open space, recreation and nearby parks for all.
    • Planning needs to ensure there are adequate safeguards for protecting nature and the environment.
    • Planning should contribute to residents' lifestyles and living environments - not degrade and spoil the very things that make living in Tasmania special. There is strong community feeling that inappropriate developments and overcrowding are already starting to degrade neighbourhoods, reduce naturalness and affect the social and environmental amenity.
    • The ability for ordinary citizens to have a say in what happens next door to them, in their local area, and in the places they care about has been greatly reduced or removed under the new Planning reforms.
  • There is no clearly stated vision for the future of Tasmania and no Planning mechanism for guiding the delivery of long-term desired social, economic and environmental goals.

Additional concerns include:

  • The public needs to be fully and properly informed by the government about the content and implications of any proposed planning reforms. Accessible and readily understandable information in the public arena is essential for genuine community engagement and involvement in planning matters that will shape our island state's common future. Development of a state-wide Planning Scheme deserves a respectful state-wide conversation. 
  • The present quality of life and amenity that Tasmanians value and enjoy should be understood, recognised and reflected in a Tasmanian Planning Scheme. For example, the Planning Process should clearly identify what Tasmanian communities most value about their natural and built environment and living amenity, and ensure that these qualities are protected and/or enhanced into the future.
  • The character and identity of the built and living environment - which contribute to Tasmania being so unique and special - should be considered and appropriately protected. For example, the proposed new building envelopes, living densities and other provisions in the State Planning Provisions impose a very different and 'foreign' form and scale from what currently exists in many places in Tasmania, and this will dramatically change the future character of our towns and streetscapes. Is this what the community wants? There has been no public discussion or consultation about these important matters.
  • Tasmania’s unique and outstanding scenic beauty, wildlife, and natural environment are valued locally, nationally and globally. It is these values in large part that attract visitors from all over the world to Tasmania. The State Planning Provisions appear to take a “one-size- fits-all” approach which treats all land and communities as having “development potential”. Let us value what we have in Tasmania and cherish and protect our unique and outstanding natural and cultural heritage!
  • Long term integrated strategic planning at all levels of government is necessary to achieve an optimal sustainable future for Tasmania. Such planning should draw on sound policies, professional Planning expertise, and reliable evidence (such as demographic data and accurate vegetation mapping). Planning should also make best use of leading practice decision-support tools and techniques such as Scenario Planning and predictive modelling.
  • Integrated risk management and informed decision-making are crucial to avoiding or mitigating readily foreseeable problems (such as increasing traffic snarls around city centres as a result of rapid growth in outer suburban centres; and increasing risks and impacts associated with climate change and our ageing demographic).
  • A Tasmanian Planning scheme should not just be about the development potential of land and economic activity; it should be about achieving the best possible balance of social, economic and environmental outcomes for community well-being. What outcomes do Tasmanians want the plan to deliver? What outcomes will the Planning Scheme deliver? Is the balance right? 
  • There are multiple and serious concerns with the proposed removal and weakening of environmental protections and impact assessment processes. 
  • There are concerns around the implications for rates and land tax if all land is to be viewed and assessed for its development potential, e.g. treated as “undeveloped” for rates and land tax assessment purposes.
  • Sound strategic planning should always involve the community in shaping a shared vision and plan for the future. Regrettably this has not happened to date under the Hodgman Government.

A new and respectful government information and consultation process is needed to inform, inspire and involve the community in developing a new and improved Tasmanian Planning Scheme that can deliver the best possible future for Tasmania and our social, economic and environmental well-being.


New Tasmanian Planning Scheme - what will it mean?

Developers will be happy with the Liberal Government's changes to Tasmania’s State Planning law. But most people haven’t even heard of the Tasmanian Planning Scheme and many would be shocked to find out what it will mean for the future of their local area and living environment.

  • For a general overview of the new Tasmanian Planning Scheme and its implications, click here.
  • For a presentation explaining what's changed under the new Planning system, click here
  • To view a video of the Planning Matters Town Hall public meeting in Hobart (8th November 2016) featuring distinguished speakers, click here.
  • For a presentation explaining the background to the Planning system in Tasmania and related terms, click here.
  • For an article summarising local community concerns about what the State Planning Provisions would mean for Kingborough municipality and its residents, click here.
  • For a detailed table comparing the provisions for the General Residential Code between the Planning Schemes for Hobart in 1982, under the Interim Planning Scheme in 2015 and under the State Planning Provisions in 2017, click here.

For media articles, opinion pieces and letters to the newspapers, go to Food for Thought