The Master Builders Association and the Property Council are calling on the Hobart City Council to address grave concerns regarding the Woolley Report into building heights and proposed changes to Hobart City Council’s planning scheme.

The Council’s Planning Committee is due to consider the proposed changes tonight.

The Tasmanian Executive Director of the Property Council, Brian Wightman, and the Executive Director of the Master Builders Association, Matthew Pollock, are calling for the Planning Committee to defer consideration of the Report and the proposed amendments until a number of fundamental questions are answered.

“This report is being secretly rushed through Council without proper community and business consultation”, Mr Wightman said.

“Worse, there has been no consideration of the potential ongoing economic and negative job impacts of its implementation.

“If these proposed changes are accepted, it would make it incredibly difficult for sensible developments to go ahead in Hobart.”

Mr Pollock questioned what impact planning scheme changes could have on housing in Hobart.

“Not only will this cost jobs and hurt economic growth, it could also make Hobart’s affordable housing issues worse.  We’re at a stage now where a number of developers are looking to increase housing stock in Hobart, through urban infill developments in particular, but if Council adopts the proposed amendments some of these projects may not go ahead,” Mr Pollock said.

“We are calling on the Council to defer consideration of the Woolley Report and the proposed changes to the planning scheme until a number of fundamental questions are answered.” 

Mr Wightman called for the Woolley Report to be peer reviewed.

“Firstly, Council must explain why the Woolley Review wasn’t peer reviewed. Surely, a report like this that could have significant consequences for Hobart for decades to come should have been peer reviewed, which is a fairly standard step.

“Secondly, if the Council does want to change the planning scheme in line with the Woolley Report, how will it ensure that urban infill developments can still go ahead without the necessary scale to make them viable? How will Council ensure that housing supply continues to increase in line with population projections for Hobart under the proposed planning changes?” Mr Wightman said.

“Third, what analysis has the Council done to determine the opportunity cost in terms of jobs and economic growth by capping building heights to such extreme lows in some places?

“Hobart is currently going through an economic golden age and we should be looking for ways to capitalize on that prosperity, not cut ourselves off at the knees.”

Mr Wightman and Mr Pollock said that any decision to change the planning scheme could have long lasting and serious unintended consequences and that surely it was in the community’s best interests to defer a final decision while all of the impacts of the changes can be properly assessed.