A failure to test the proposed site of a new $80 million hotel development for contaminants before the granting of council approval is argued as a main appeal ground for protectionist group Launceston Heritage Not Highrise, in addition to concern about the hotel’s height.
The appellant Jim Collier, on behalf of the group, argues that Global Premium Hotel’s development application relating to environmental testing, assessments to human health and plans for remediation of the site is not acceptable and therefore the City of Launceston’s approval should not have been granted.
In evidence at the tribunal yesterday afternoon council development manager Richard Jamieson said from his experience such testing does not occur prior to approval.
He said given the history of the site – on the corner of William and Tamar streets and corner of Tamar and Cimitiere streets – it was likely that the site was contaminated but that the likelihood of the type of contaminants being extreme and novel is low.
“The site’s history shows they are likely to be known contaminants which have known decontamination processes.
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On the issue of the proposal’s height, Mr Collier’s group argues the proposal is not compatible with the streetscape and character of the surrounding area, namely that its height of 43 metres is double that of some existing buildings, and is in stark contrast to their generally low profile and modest form.
Mr Jamieson provided evidence that Launceston city was characterised by lower buildings interspersed with taller buildings. He said that the design of the hotel, which sees floor area for each level of the building progressively decease in size from level eight, is “quite successful in minimising height”.
“If this [proposal] was just an isolated form then it would be less compatible … it will be slightly higher but this does not make it out of character,” later adding “while it is tall it will be perceived as lower, depending on where you view it.”
For example, Mr Jamieson said that the building would not be seen by someone walking along Launceston’s Southern levee walking track.
The appellant questioned Mr Jamieson’s evidence because it looked at the character of the surrounding area in the future, arguing that this must be assessed at the time of the application.
Mr Jamieson’s evidence took into account the changing nature of the surrounding area, and other development proposals such as the gasworks art gallery and the university Inveresk precinct.
“This will sit in a changing streetscape … Developments encourage other developments and those uses, or legacy uses may well change.”