Hobart - a brilliant future

Perhaps its the Derwent River, or the spectacular harbour stretching south from Hobart. Or Mt Wellington, towering large over Hobart, changing its moods as it interprets the weather patterns it presides over. Maybe its the waterfront, with its wonderful mix of old working port and upmarket bars and restaurant, framed by old sandstone buildings, with their connection to colonial Hobart Town. And just a couple of blocks away, a modern city bustles with life. It seems Hobart has it all.

It is here that we choose to live, in suburbs lining the riverfront, or on foothills looming over the city, capturing a panorama of unsurpassed natural beauty. People here understand the mountain, the river, the bushland suburbs and the heritage of our colonial past. Residents love it already. And more and more visitors are looking to stay on. The secret is out – Hobart is the city for the 21st century!

Civic leaders of past generations should be congratulated for protecting Hobart’s unique assets, and for resisting the worst excesses of get-rich-quick developers. Now, it is the task of this generation to ensure Hobart is passed on to future residents at least as well cared for as it is now. There is no reason why that should not be possible. But, to be honest to ourselves, we also have to admit that mistakes have been made, and learn from them. We know there have been some notable exceptions to the sensitive development of our city. Lets not allow that to happen again.

The ‘public memory’ is perhaps our greatest bulwark against ugly encroachments that threaten our city. We must tap into that resource, and use it for our benefit. Consultation is the key; and I mean Fair Dinkum Consultation.

Hobart stands on the cusp of a golden era. People want to live here. We should embrace them, and encourage businesses to provide work for them. Approvals for new projects are at record levels – if only they can be brought to fruition. The Gehl Report offers a blueprint for a vibrant, liveable city. Some of his recommendations will be controversial. Some will not find easy acceptance. We must engage the public, hear what they say, and facilitate their wishes.

It won’t be easy.

In creating the conditions for it all to materialise, there are identifiable challenges.

For example, the city centre needs to be revitalised. The CBD must become an inviting and interesting destination that creates its own atmosphere – not just a business and commercial district, but an experience that excites the senses. Hobart has an astonishing array of arts and crafts, but they exist on the periphery of the city – as if not part of it. Their inclusion into the commercial centre can bring the city to life. They will draw people into the city, adding to its colour and vitality.

Hobart’s future is bright. It is on the cusp of greatness. Lets work on the vision. The future is now!