HCC Elector Poll 2019
Further Detail

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Following a public meeting held on 15 April 2019 to discuss the issue of building heights in central Hobart, a petition signed by over 1,000 electors was lodged with the Hobart City Council on 15 May 2019 requesting this elector poll in accordance with section 60C of the Local Government Act 1993.


Under Tasmanian legislation, local government councils approve planning permits for the construction of new buildings or alterations to current buildings within their municipality.

The City of Hobart has always had height standards in the planning schemes for its city and suburbs.

For example, the current permitted building height limit in the CBD is up to 30 meters (up to 10 storeys) if the building is set back from the street.

However, the current planning schemes also allow the Council to use discretion to approve taller proposals if the building is deemed to meet certain criteria. There is no absolute maximum building height specified.

Following community concerns surrounding planning approval requests in 2017, the City of Hobart commissioned an architect and urban design consultant to undertake a Building Heights Standards Review (the Review) in order to ensure the height of development in the central area of Hobart and Sullivans Cove makes a positive contribution to the streetscape and townscape values and meets community expectations.

Following the Review and a community consultation process, the Council’s planning officers made recommendations to Council.

Council did not support these recommendations but resolved to commission a report to consider the social, environmental and economic impacts of height restrictions. Council has since agreed to work with the State Government to develop a precinct plan for central Hobart - as yet no timetable has been established for this.

The Recommendations to Council:

The Recommendations to Council In summary, the planning officers recommended that:

Maximum height limits be set for nine new Height Areas across the city
[including Sullivans Cove, Wapping, and four areas within the CBD - see map below].

New height limits range from 15 metres (up to 5 storeys) on the edge to 60 metres (up to 20 storeys) in the centre of the CBD.

Important view lines around the city are protected.

The combination of height limits and protection of view lines will assist in maintaining central Hobart as a ‘compact’ and ‘human-scale’ city.

Graphic representations of the Proposed Height Areas

Hobart City Elector Poll Mapped Proposed Height Areas

Hobart City Elector Poll Mapped Proposed Height Areas

Reasons provided to the TEC in support of a 'Yes' or 'No' vote for the principal question -

Reasons Council should support the recommendations:

Absolute maximum building heights will strengthen the protection of Hobart’s heritage, view lines and streetscapes, preventing Council, now and in the future, from approving buildings taller than these limits.

The 50 plus recommendations made by the City’s expert planning officers will protect Hobart’s heritage, view lines and streetscapes. Many residents have said, on numerous occasions, that they don’t want high-rise towers, and they want heritage buildings, view-lines, and streetscapes to be protected.

Maximum building heights give certainty, and reduced costs, to all involved (developers, architects, valuers, City planners, Aldermen, the public, and the Tasmanian Planning Commission).

High rise buildings are out of character with Hobart and will impact on the heritage values of the city.

High-rise buildings will impact on pedestrian comfort by increasing shadows, and creating wind tunnels.

Views of the water and the mountain are important to Hobart’s residents and visitors, and high-rise buildings are likely to interrupt these views.

Many cities around the world have preserved their historic centre and character by having strict height limits. That’s what makes them special. The existing scale and charm of Hobart is attractive to residents and visitors alike.

Low and medium rise development will allow growth without impacting on the character of Hobart.

Reasons Council should not support the recommendations:

Absolute maximum heights will restrict the Council’s ability to use discretion to approve a range of buildings and designs.

The Council should not support the recommendations of the planning officers because:

  • The existing planning scheme standards (related to building height, bulk, design, amenity and heritage) are sufficient to allow proposals for inappropriately high buildings to be refused.
  • Building height limits may reduce the level of economic development in the city.
  • Height restrictions could limit practical and commercially viable projects.
  • There is insufficient information available to fully understand the social, economic and environmental impacts of imposing building height limits.
  • The standards in the planning schemes should allow all proposals to be assessed on their merits and height limits may reduce innovative design solutions.
  • The city needs to be dense to thrive and grow. Limiting height in the CBD may create urban sprawl and force people to live further from the city, which will increase traffic congestion.

Your ballot paper has 3 questions:

Principal question -

Should the Council support the building height limits and other recommendations made by its planning officers?

Further questions -

Would you prefer the building height limit in Height Area 1 to be lower than 60 metres?

Would you prefer the planning schemes remain unchanged?

What role does Council play in planning?

This video from LGAT (Local Government Association Tasmania) is used to answer this question for new Councillors.

Extract from LGAT Councillor Resource Kit   also outlines the role Council plays. (PDF 395KB)

The Recommendations to Council and the Review documents:

(Each opens in a new tab)

Hobart City Planning Director's report to Council  (PDF 588KB)

Building Heights Standards Review  (PDF 119MB)

Attachments to the Building Heights Standards Review  (PDF 49.6MB)

Central Hobart Building Height Standards Review Project - Proposed Planning Scheme Amendments  (PDF 32.2MB)

You can listen to a recording of the public meeting held on 16 April.

Listen (1hr 40mins)

For even more background detail, you may want to visit these websites

Each opens in new tab

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