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Chapter 3 Recognising the character of our city - Recognising the

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Chapter 3 Recognising the character of our city - Recognising the Powered By Docstoc
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   Recognising the character
                   of our city
Protecting heritage and promoting good urban design
The character of Launceston
Launceston City has a unique urban character. It is renowned for its heritage buildings and
streetscapes, its century-old parklands, and for the Cataract Gorge, a scenic riverine reserve close to
the city centre. The city is recognised for its 'human scale' and its liveability.

Arguably, Launceston has the largest remaining concentration of nineteenth century buildings of any
city in Australia.

The city's layout and architectural legacy are now recognised as central to the city's identity, largely
defining the character of the city and greatly valued by the community. Council has formally recognised
the city’s heritage in the current planning scheme and in many of the strategic documents developed
over recent years.

The character of the city gives a key ‘competitive advantage’ to Launceston – that is, it is something 'we
do better' and it therefore contributes to the economy, the lifestyle, and the sense of community among
the city's residents.

Through Launceston Vision 2020 the community has expressed a strong desire that the character
of the city be recognised and retained. The Launceston City Council's corporate plan, economic
development plan, recreation planning guide, open space strategy, heritage strategy, central area
development strategy, cultural plan and retail strategy all recognise the importance of the city’s built
heritage and the importance of quality, functional urban environments.

Recognising the city’s character and ensuring it is respected and where possible enhanced through
future development are key community concerns that must be central considerations in the new
planning scheme.

Underpinning the consideration of Launceston's unique character in the planning scheme will be an
understanding of the elements that combine to create that unique character. These are outlined below.


A sense of place, authenticity and community
The residents of Launceston have said that they value and identify with the appearance of their city.

Over time the appearance and character of the city has been formed by building types, styles,
architectural details and town form, as well as the activities of commerce and special events.

While there is considerable diversity in architectural style in Launceston, much of the development was,
and has remained, true to the style, materials and aesthetics of the time of construction. That is, it is
authentic. Lack of large-scale redevelopment within the inner areas particularly, has helped preserve
the authenticity of the Launceston streetscapes. This unique character is becoming an increasingly rare
and precious asset.




Issues paper for community comment
	        	       	        	       	
October 2007, Launceston City Council
                                        	      	      36	
Green	space
Launceston’s natural setting is both dramatic and picturesque. Retaining these qualities is important
both for the community's own 'sense of place' and quality of life, and for the experience of visitors. Key
attributes include:

    1. Cataract Gorge Reserve

    2. river corridors including walking tracks and recreational spaces

    3. formal parks and gardens including City Park, Princes Square, Brickfields, and Royal Park

    4. significant tree plantings including those at Cornwall Square and the streets of East Launceston

    5. Windmill Hill Reserve

    6. the undeveloped rural approaches particularly along the Bass and Midlands highways.

The high standard of maintenance and level of protection afforded these assets is integral to the
reputation of the city. Future protection of the functionality and amenity of these key attributes has been
clearly expressed as a community priority through Vision 2020.




Scale	and	character
The patterns and forms of development in Launceston have resulted in a relatively compact city that for
the most part has a characteristic 'human scale'. This expresses itself in two major ways, firstly in the
scale of the city itself and secondly in the size and form of its major elements.

The leafy parklands, developed river edges, and Cataract Gorge Reserve; and the major public
buildings including the Inveresk arts precinct and the Aurora Stadium, are all within walking distance of
the CBD and some also of each other. Many people live within walking distance of their workplace. This
proximity is valued by the community and results in a city that is accessible and easy to work, shop and
spend time in.

The Launceston CBD fulfils the traditional role of a city centre by being the administrative, commercial
and retail hub. The CBD as the centre of both city and regional activity is a key component of the city’s
character.

The second key element of Launceston’s scale is the prevailing size and bulk of the buildings. The CBD
and surrounding commercial area consist largely of substantial 2–3 storey (8–12m) buildings built up to
the street frontages. Due to the mostly level nature of this central area, streets are laid out in a regular
grid fashion. It is only as the topography changes that the grid deforms or distorts. Narrow service lanes
weave through the mostly solid blocks with only isolated occurrences of central squares and shopping
arcades.

Issues paper for community comment
	        	       	        	       	
October 2007, Launceston City Council
                                        	     	       37	
The prevailing height of buildings allows for sun to penetrate to street level in the CBD, a feature that is
progressively rare in cities that have adopted higher buildings as the norm.

Few sites have been ‘redeveloped’ so building stock is largely original and generally consistent in scale
and type. This provides a clearly readable character and formal context for development in the city. If
this character is to be maintained new development must be respectful in terms of scale, built form and
layout.


Topography
The original township of Launceston was established on the river flats at the confluence of the North
Esk and South Esk rivers as they flowed into the Tamar Estuary. As the commercial centre grew, it crept
up from the river's edge to the level terrace upon which it now stands. Residential areas grew on the
surrounding slopes, eventually spreading beyond.

The level areas of the flood plain and the terrace rely on the surrounding hills for visual enclosure. This
form contributes to the aesthetic quality and comprehensibility of the city and is thus a vital element of
Launceston's comfortable ‘small city’ character.

Launceston also owes much of its character and uniqueness as a city to the proximity of the Cataract
Gorge. Featuring dolerite cliffs carved out of the hillsides of Trevallyn and West Launceston by the
South Esk River, the gorge provides extensive views and recreational opportunities for residents and
visitors. It is integral to the character of the city and is highly valued by residents and the people of
the northern region. Views of the mouth of the Gorge and Kings Bridge are iconic in Tasmania and
symbolise Launceston.




Issue 12: Recognising the character of Launceston

Integral to the land use strategy and planning scheme must be the recognition that Launceston has a
unique character that is valued by the community.

Launceston's character is founded upon the authenticity of the city’s buildings, the human scale of
the city, the prevailing forms of development, its green spaces, and the ways in which the city has
developed in response to its topography. The city's character serves to create the community’s sense of
place.

The location, design and function of new development should be considered for the degree to which it
maintains or enhances the desired character of Launceston.




Issues paper for community comment
	        	       	        	       	
October 2007, Launceston City Council
                                        	      	       38	
Promoting good urban design
The	objectives	of	urban	design
While care must be taken to ensure the unique attributes and character of Launceston are preserved,
the planning scheme must also allow opportunities for new development to help the city further evolve.
Modern architecture that is true to its age and is well designed and integrated into the existing fabric
should be welcomed. A planning scheme with a focus on achieving good urban design outcomes
should provide for the successful integration of new developments into the city.

Urban design is the area of town planning that focuses on creating desirable urban environments for
the people that live and work in them. This is achieved by creating places that are attractive, functional,
liveable, environmentally sustainable, and economically viable. It brings together many elements of
good planning practice.

New development that is respectful of its surroundings can contribute to communities, enhance what
we have, and make our city a better place to live in. Launceston City Council should be proactive in
encouraging positive urban design outcomes through its land use strategy and planning scheme.

The key objectives of urban design are:

Liveability
    New development should maximise people’s ability to participate in community activities, access
    services and facilities, and undertake the activities of their daily lives.

    Essential for a liveable city are: i) the accessibility of houses and commercial, recreational and
    community facilities; ii) the integration of alternative means of transport; and iii) high levels of
    amenity, particularly in public areas.

Community health and safety
    Attractive, well-planned cities are healthier and more accessible and suffer from lower crime rates.
    Opportunities for children to play and for people to walk, ride bikes and enjoy attractive and safe
    outdoor environments are key contributors to community health.

Economic advantage
    More attractive cities are more appealing places to live in, are better at attracting and retaining
    skilled workers, and attract tourists in larger numbers and for longer periods. Attractive, well-
    designed, successful projects that integrate good urban design will create higher property values,
    increased desirability, and generally improved economic outcomes.

Sustainability
    Environmental sustainability and good urban design are intrinsically linked. At the most fundamental
    level the layout of the city, the transport system, and locations of residential, employment and
    recreational opportunities can significantly dictate patterns and efficiency of resource use.

    Poorly connected urban development can make cities more car-reliant and contribute to poor social
    outcomes including isolation and lack of access to community services.

    Good urban design can also encourage sustainable construction practices such as energy and water
    efficiency; water-sensitive stormwater management; and landscaping, tree planting and natural
    habitat creation and retention.



Issues paper for community comment
	        	       	        	       	
October 2007, Launceston City Council
                                        	       	       39	
The	role	of	the	planning	scheme
The current planning scheme does not seek to influence urban design in any significant way. It does not
for example have a strategy for promoting or achieving good urban design outcomes, nor state a vision
for the character of the city. This leads to conflict and does not allow Council the opportunity to highlight
important issues nor seek to negotiate better standards of development.

Design is particularly important in the CBD and in the older areas of the city where the existing
character is well-defined and valued by the community.


Issue 13: Integrating urban design principles into the planning scheme

The planning scheme should explicitly promote good urban design.

The location and form of new development should be assessed on how well it integrates both
functionally and visually into the existing urban fabric; and explicit consideration should be given to the
ease of use and accessibility of new developments, along with the aesthetic appeal of the development
and the degree to which it contributes to environmental sustainability.


How the planning scheme can influence good
urban design
To achieve good urban design in Launceston, the planning scheme should give Council opportunity for
input into the design of buildings.

The appropriate level of design control is often controversial. Views range between the extremes of:

'Council has no role at all and design should be left to developers and architects'

and

'Council should approve the design details, location, materials and functioning of individual buildings'.

There have been examples of recent years where Council may have wished for greater opportunity to
influence the design of developments but did not have authority through the planning scheme. Many
community members have expressed the view that the planning scheme should play a greater role if
Council is to protect the city’s advantages and maximise the benefits of development for the community.

There are a number of mechanisms a planning scheme could employ, including:

        •	   setting expectations of the future character of areas (precincts) of the city

        •	   introducing performance-based design guidelines based on explicitly-stated desired
             outcomes rather than generalised minimum standards

        •	   providing a clear vision of what Council expects as the basis upon which decision-makers
             exercise discretion.

In Launceston where there is great diversity of architectural form and layout the characteristics that
would be considered 'desirable' for new development vary considerably, such that any regulatory
mechanisms must be appropriate for their particular areas. In many areas regulation may not be
necessary. In others, sophisticated controls may be appropriate.

In the precincts recognised as important to the character of the city, specific guidelines on such
considerations as building size (in particular, height); design features such as roofs, access and
orientation; and how a building ‘fits’ into it context would lead to more certainty for developers and better
outcomes for the city.



Issues paper for community comment
	        	       	        	       	
October 2007, Launceston City Council
                                        	       	       40	
Many developments need to consider complex and often conflicting factors, including the need to be
profitable, the needs of future tenants, the constraints and opportunities of individual sites, and the skills
of the designer.

Design controls may be appropriate for identified important development sites or more broadly applied
to areas, streetscapes and precincts that are particularly valued by the community.


Issue 14: Implementing design controls

Where it is considered important for new development to fit into the established character of an area or
to contribute to a desired future character, the planning scheme should implement design controls that
provide guidance on the parameters for acceptable development.

Issues to consider would include the design of buildings including height, bulk, orientation, materials
and signage; and integration into the public realm including access and car parking, landscaping, and
pedestrian linkages.


Response to context and environment
Launceston has many areas where the congregation of buildings, their design and their layout establish
a particular character that is valued by the local residents and the wider community. Areas can be
distinctive through the scale of development, orientation and setbacks, the building materials including
roofing, windows and other details, and other characteristics such as landscaping and fencing.

In areas where there is an identifiable, distinct and valued character, or where a desired future
character has been agreed, the planning scheme should seek to ensure this is explicitly recognised and
considered in the design of new development. Analysis of the development site and beyond the site
boundary into its larger context should be a required step in the design process for any development
that has the potential to degrade the character.

 A site analysis, required as part of a planning application, would require the applicant to demonstrate
that the development takes into account the context of the surrounding area, including:

        •	   slope

        •	   prevailing building setbacks

        •	   built heritage

        •	   architectural styles

        •	   existing vegetation

        •	   overlooking and overshadowing of neighbours

        •	   appropriate density.


Issue 15: Requiring site-responsive design

The planning scheme should require that a site analysis be submitted as a mandatory component of an
application for use or development that has the potential to detract from the character or amenity of an
area.

Site analysis should detail how the prevailing characteristics of the area have been considered in the
proposed design.




Issues paper for community comment
	        	       	        	         	
October 2007, Launceston City Council
                                        	      	       41	
Design of public spaces
A significant contributor to the character of Launceston is the quality of the public spaces in the city
– the streets, parks, squares, and other areas where the public enjoy free access.
The Launceston City Council and the community place a high value on these public spaces and
considerable efforts have been made over the past decades to improve these areas in the CBD, and
notably the Kings Meadows and Mowbray suburban centres.
The value of functional, safe, accessible and aesthetically pleasing public spaces is not currently
recognised in the planning scheme. This can lead to fragmented assessment processes for elements
such as paving surfaces, street furniture, awnings, outdoor dining areas, landscaping and an
uncoordinated approach. This is can lead to misunderstandings and delays.
Coordination of assessment in planning for public spaces is particularly important, as there has been
a trend for private developments to include such spaces. This has been particularly the case in larger-
scale developments, the Gasworks redevelopment and the Old Launceston Seaport being recent
examples.
When approving development that includes significant public areas or is otherwise used by the public,
Council should take care to ensure high standards of design and usability. Issues include accessibility
for people with a disability, appropriate surface treatments, street furniture, landscaping, lighting, and
pedestrian and cycle access.
Care should also be taken in the design and orientation of buildings to maximise their interactions with
public spaces. Providing attractive public environments that are safe, accessible and usable ultimately
brings people into new developments and contributes to their success. The planning scheme should
also seek to encourage opportunities for the integration of public art and the creation of active street
frontages.
The creation of successful public spaces requires partnerships and coordination between public and
private interests. It also requires coordination between many areas within Council, particularly land use
planning, infrastructure and capital works, and the economic and community development portfolios.




Issue 16: Ensuring the good design of public spaces

Launceston's safe, attractive, accessible and usable public spaces are a considerable asset to the city.
The planning scheme should give consideration to public spaces in new development to ensure that the
benefits for the city are maximised.

The scheme should consider the orientation and layout of buildings, accessibility for people with a
disability, appropriate surface treatments, street furniture, landscaping, lighting, and pedestrian and
cycle access. Opportunities to integrate public facilities, artworks, and active frontages should be
identified where appropriate.

Council should also seek opportunities to coordinate activity in partnership with private developments
that will assist both in the success of the development and its integration into the existing and desired
fabric of the city.

Issues paper for community comment
	        	       	        	       	
October 2007, Launceston City Council
                                        	      	       42	
Urban vegetation
Trees and other types of vegetation including hedges, shrubs and garden beds in urban areas are
valued by the community, in particular because they:

        •	   trap particulate pollution and absorb pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and carbon dioxide

        •	   regulate microclimates and provide shade, reduce glare, reduce wind effects, and protect
             from rain

        •	   contribute to soil stability and prevent erosion

        •	   regulate soil water allowing slower run-off and reducing flooding

        •	   provide habitat for birds and animals

        •	   can have considerable aesthetic value.

There is considerable evidence that vegetation and gardens also contribute to higher property values
and increase the desirability of areas. Many of the most attractive streets in Launceston are those with
significant mature trees on both private property and the street. Mature European trees are a feature of
many of the older parts of Launceston and contribute to their special character.

The current planning scheme does not explicitly recognise the value of trees or other vegetation in our
urban areas and as a result opportunities have often been missed to either retain significant trees or
encourage the planting of new vegetation in appropriate areas.

The appropriateness of planting particular trees and issues concerning their maintenance vary between
public and private areas. Trees in streets and public areas such as parks are generally selected for their
capacity to grow to become significant landscape elements. Larger trees in private gardens on the other
hand, may reach a size capable of damaging property and require removal. Regulation should therefore
be appropriate to circumstances.

In new public areas, such as new streets in subdivisions or areas of public open space, appropriate tree
planting should be considered as part of the design, and location should be clear of infrastructure and
other constraints. Ensuring appropriate trees are planted should be a condition of approval.

In private development, opportunities for significant planting may be more restricted, requiring
consideration at the earliest design stage. Landscape plans for residential and new commercial
developments should be encouraged to appropriately select and locate new vegetation. The
responsibility for maintenance must be specified in planning permits.

The planning scheme should not get in the way of the removal of trees that have become dangerous,
are inappropriately located, or are not appropriate species for the area.




Issues paper for community comment
	        	       	        	       	
October 2007, Launceston City Council
                                         	      	       43	
In Launceston there are many places where the vegetation contributes to the overall scenic character
of the city, for example the treed hill faces of West Launceston and Trevallyn. This aspect is considered
further in the scenic protection section below.


Issue 17: Valuing urban vegetation

Trees, hedges and other vegetation in urban environments have aesthetic, amenity and environmental
benefits. Launceston has many areas where trees form an important and valued part of the city’s
character.

The planning scheme should recognise the benefits of trees and seek opportunities in new
developments for their inclusion. Landscape plans should be prepared as part of significant new
developments and consideration of vegetation should be integral to their design and layout.

New streets and public open spaces created by subdivision should contain appropriate tree planting as
a condition of approval.


Built heritage
Launceston is a heritage city of national importance. Significant areas have remained substantially
unchanged since they were developed. The community has increasingly recognised that our built
heritage is an asset that requires careful management.

There are currently over 1000 Launceston buildings formally protected, either by the Tasmanian
Heritage Council (THC) or by the Launceston City Council (through the planning scheme heritage
lists). There are many more buildings that have been recognised in various ways by institutions and
community groups. Places are identified as having individual heritage value because they are important
to the identity of Launceston and have contributed to its history and development.

Heritage-listed buildings are often examples of:

        •	   early development that reflects the establishment of the third-oldest city in Australia

        •	   major public buildings, institutions and spaces that demonstrate key phases and events that
             were significant in the growth of the city

        •	   homogenous commercial or residential streetscapes or precincts that represent major
             phases in regional prosperity

        •	   architectural styles and construction technologies, or the work of significant architects and
             builders

        •	   the workplaces and homes of people who played an important role in the history of
             Launceston

        •	   places important to the community because of their use, or their visual or emotive qualities.

Heritage conservation in Launceston has generally tended to concentrate on the heritage-listed
individual buildings and places.

While this approach has been successful to some degree and secured protection for many buildings
it does not recognise that it is often the sum of the parts that is unique and that many areas of the city
have collective value. For this reason it is suggested that the focus of heritage should be expanded
from a building-centred approach to one of identifying and preserving the character of whole areas.


Issues paper for community comment
	        	       	        	       	
October 2007, Launceston City Council
                                        	       	       44	
Regulation over heritage places is split between the Tasmanian Heritage Council and the Launceston
City Council. Each has its own legislative powers and its own permit system. Because each body has
slightly varying objectives the dual system cannot be avoided. For dual-listed places, two permits are
required and the applicant is required to comply with the 'stricter' of the conditions specified by the two
regulators.

Council has enjoyed a good working relationship with the Heritage Council and the two bodies are
currently working together to update and improve the management of heritage places in Launceston.


The Launceston Heritage Study
The most significant joint project between Council and the THC has been the Launceston Heritage
Study undertaken by Paul Davies Heritage Architects.

The purpose of the study was to identify all places of heritage importance in Launceston that had not
been formally identified by either body. Approximately 2000 additional properties were identified. The
study also produced a 'thematic history' of Launceston, analysing the history and historical geography
of Launceston and its evolution as a city.

The study recommended the establishment of conservation areas: precincts containing groups of
consistently designed places and/or significant places that collectively demonstrate the history of
Launceston. Conservation areas would usually contain heritage-listed places. Different levels of control
would be specified for each area depending on its heritage significance.

The study recommends that conservation areas be used as the principal means of control over heritage
for the city. With the purpose of retaining the heritage and aesthetic value and character of whole
precincts, conservation areas would contain parameters for acceptable future development to preserve
their character.

In order to implement the Paul Davies recommendations and integrate them into the planning scheme a
number of key steps need to be taken:

1. the consolidation of all heritage lists to create a single list for the Launceston area that would be
   adopted by both the THC and Council

2. the clear identification of responsibilities of state and local authorities

3. the development of appropriate processes and decision-making criteria for buildings on the heritage
   list

4. the establishment of conservation areas and the specification of attributes to be considered in
   relation to any changed use or development.

The heritage study will assist Council to develop a planning scheme with clear links between strategic
objectives for heritage and the criteria used to assess development.




Issues paper for community comment
	        	       	        	       	
October 2007, Launceston City Council
                                        	       	       45	
Issue 18: Valuing and managing Launceston's built heritage

Launceston is a heritage city of national importance. The city's heritage is recognised by the community
as an asset that requires ongoing and careful management. The focus of heritage protection in the
planning scheme should be expanded from an individual-building-centred approach to one of identifying
and preserving the character of whole areas through the introduction of conservation areas.

The recommendations of the Launceston Heritage Study should be implemented through the planning
scheme by the creation of a single heritage list, the clear delineation of state and local responsibilities,
the development of appropriate processes and decision-making criteria concerning heritage-listed
buildings, and the identification of conservation areas and the attributes that would need to be
considered in the event of changed use or development.


Complementary measures
In addition to the mechanisms regulating development through the planning scheme there are many
measures that should be considered as part of a broader strategy to better manage the city’s built
heritage.

The identified options include:

        •	   Good design codes – providing guidance on signage, colour schemes, communication
             equipment, fences, driveways, garages and carports, and trees – could be developed and
             promoted to provide 'up front' advice on best practice.

        •	   Incentive schemes for heritage-listed properties could be developed, for example to: remove
             inappropriate signage, repaint in sympathetic colour schemes, and restore or reinstate
             heritage features. Exempting planning applications on heritage-listed residential properties
             from Council fees would reduce the costs associated with such improvements.

        •	   Council has in the past engaged heritage specialists to advise owners about their heritage-
             listed properties, thus reducing the potential for unsympathetic development proposals.
             Council could consider reinstating this proactive service.

Some larger heritage properties particularly in the inner city have substantially increased in value and
the costs associated with maintaining them for their original uses have also grown significantly. Heritage
properties generally attract higher levels of regulation, including the requirement for permits to conduct
maintenance works. Council assistance through advice and incentive schemes would assist owners of
heritage properties.

By coordinating the regulations governing heritage properties, and introducing incentives and proactive
advice for property owners, Council would work towards its strategic goal of retaining Launceston's
character and better managing its built heritage.


Issue 19: Further protecting heritage

In order to achieve its strategic objectives for heritage, Council could implement a range of measures
that would complement the regulations contained in the planning scheme. Council should consider:

   introducing best practice guidelines for owners of heritage-listed properties

   providing incentive schemes for beneficial works or reduced or exempted fees for certain
    improvements

   engaging expert advice for owners of heritage-listed properties to reduce the potential for
    unsympathetic development proposals.

A coordinated approach will achieve synergies for heritage protection and result in reduced levels of
conflict and a reduced regulatory burden for owners of heritage-listed properties.

Issues paper for community comment
	        	       	        	       	
October 2007, Launceston City Council
                                        	      	       46	
Changed uses of heritage buildings
Over time, and with changed social and economic conditions, the use of buildings also changes.
Buildings become unfit for their original purpose, or that purpose is no longer desired.

Older buildings often have constraints to their productive use, for example many have low levels of
natural light, small rooms, and don't comply with contemporary regulations including accessibility
requirements. Often constraints are such that it is difficult to find an economically viable use for such
buildings, leaving them empty or poorly maintained, or both.

Flexibility must be allowed to find alternative uses for such buildings while seeking to preserve the
integrity and character of buildings and areas. Many heritage buildings in Launceston have undergone
change of use or upgrading to make them compatible with contemporary requirements. These changes
have been undertaken with varying degrees of success.

Council has recently adopted this approach when planning for retail development on the CBD fringes,
relaxing the allowable range of uses of heritage-listed buildings. There are many such circumstances
where the planning scheme can take a positive, forward-looking approach to ensuring a productive
future for heritage-listed buildings.

Council should seek to retain all original fabric within a development site unless there are identifiable
and beneficial reasons why original buildings cannot be retained.




Issue 20: Reusing heritage buildings

Over time buildings become unfit for their original purpose, or the community's demand for their use
changes. Many heritage buildings struggle to find long-term viable uses.

The planning scheme should allow flexibility in both use and development provisions to encourage
alternative uses for such buildings, while seeking to preserve the integrity and character of buildings
and areas.


Aboriginal culture and heritage
The land use strategy and planning scheme must recognise that Launceston has an important
Aboriginal history and must aim to ensure that sites of cultural importance to the Aboriginal community
are recognised and appropriately managed.

In developing the planning scheme Council must in consultation with the Aboriginal community, identify
sites and areas of cultural significance to the Aboriginal community and where appropriate put in place
planning scheme processes and mechanisms to protect and manage Aboriginal heritage sites.

Where places of significance are identified, the necessary steps to understand and protect these places
from inappropriate development should be taken. Aboriginal heritage is largely dealt with at state level,
outside Council processes, however it is necessary for processes and protocols to be developed to
ensure its appropriate consideration in land use planning.
Issues paper for community comment
	        	       	        	       	
October 2007, Launceston City Council
                                        	      	      47	
The Aboriginal Relics Act 1975 provides that 'no person shall destroy, damage, deface, conceal
or otherwise interfere with a relic'. Where a relic or a site of cultural significance is identified, the
appropriate state government authority and the Tasmanian Aboriginal Land and Sea Council must
be notified. The impact of the proposed activity or development on cultural values is assessed and
decisions on the subsequent management of the site made at Ministerial level.


Issue 21: Protecting Launceston’s Aboriginal heritage

The planning scheme should identify and seek to protect Launceston’s Aboriginal culture and
heritage, and all necessary steps should be taken to understand and protect sites from inappropriate
development.


Other aspects of Launceston's heritage
In Launceston there are many notable heritage assets that are not related to buildings but that
contribute greatly to the appearance and historic interest of the city. Examples of such non-built or
moveable heritage include statues, fountains, kerbs, industrial heritage, bridges, graveyards, street
furniture and trees. The planning scheme should give appropriate protection where such items are of
recognised importance to the community.

Issue 22: Protecting other aspects of Launceston's heritage

The planning scheme should identify and seek to protect the non-built and moveable heritage objects
that contribute to the character and heritage appeal of Launceston: its statues, fountains, kerbs,
industrial heritage, bridges, graveyards, street furniture and trees.


Signage
The current control of signage in Launceston is not consistent with best practice. There are numerous
examples of clutter, large numbers of illegal signs and little effective enforcement. Signage that is too
big and not suited to its location can detract from the aesthetic appeal of Launceston and can reduce
the attractiveness of the city to residents, visitors and investors.

As more signage is erected competition generates larger signs and ultimately illuminated signs.
Escalating numbers and sizes of signs with increasing levels of illumination is not consistent with
Council's vision for a city that respects its character and heritage.

Good practice would suggest that the planning scheme should ensure, particularly in visually sensitive
areas, that signage is limited to that necessary to reasonably identify the business and not have a
primary role of general ‘advertising’ to passers-by.

Billboards and large-scale panels advertising to car travellers almost always reduce the aesthetic
appeal of the areas in which they are located. Given Launceston has a significant competitive
advantage in its intact and unspoilt heritage such signage should be prohibited in the planning scheme.

Care also needs to be exercised in the location and size of road signs in the built-up areas of the city.
There are instances of large directional signs, including those provided for tourists, that are located in
front of, or in the view field of significant heritage buildings. Such signage can degrade the heritage
asset that visitors and residents value.

There are also many examples in Launceston of signs that hide or obscure architectural details. The
appeal of many buildings in Launceston is attributable to the finer detail of the facades and the balance
and proportions of the original designs. Inappropriate signage detracts from this appeal. Accordingly,
care should be taken to ensure that any signage complements the architectural detail of buildings.

Designing for appropriate signage in new buildings should be encouraged. Integrated signage that
respects the architecture is preferable to signage that occurs as an afterthought.
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Updated signage guidelines are necessary. Ideally these should be precinct- or locality-specific with
additional criteria developed for heritage-listed buildings and/or precincts.

Stricter enforcement of signage regulations is also necessary. Prompt enforcement will combat the
proliferation of illegal signage.




Issue 23: Improving signage

Inappropriate signage can reduce the attractiveness of Launceston to residents, tourists and investors.
The planning scheme should ensure that signage is limited to that necessary to reasonably identify the
activity being conducted on the premises, and not for general advertising to passers-by.

Council should not approve signage that is unresponsive to architectural details and unsympathetic
to the surroundings. The planning scheme should be explicit in requiring signage to be designed to
complement the surrounding area.

Updated signage guidelines are necessary, and should be precinct- or locality-specific with specific
criteria for heritage-listed buildings and/ or precincts.

Enforcement of signage regulations is also necessary.


Scenic amenity
Launceston has many scenic elements, including the Cataract Gorge, the Home Point and North Esk
River precinct, and the hill faces and ridgelines of Trevallyn, East and West Launceston, and Windmill
Hill. These features are recognised in the planning scheme by a ‘scenic protection’ and a 'regional
significance' overlay. These have similar objectives of introducing a greater level of control over
development to protect identified scenic areas.

The current scenic protection mechanism is a simple one, emphasising retention of vegetation and
minimising the visual impact of development. However there is little interpretation or guidance as to the
intended outcomes or the control mechanisms that may be applied. This protection has therefore not
always achieved its purpose of modifying the impact of development.

There are examples of development in scenic protection areas particularly in Kings Meadows and West
Launceston where all significant vegetation has been removed and houses have become the dominant
feature. Issues have also been created in the approval of subdivisions particularly where design, layout
and block size has effectively precluded meeting the scenic protection objectives.

The scenic protection overlay considers developed and undeveloped land in the same way. This is a
source of concern for residents of scenic protection areas, and there are a number of issues concerning
scenic protection in already developed areas.

        •	   Most areas were developed prior to scenic protection designation and the resultant mix
             of styles and architecture makes it difficult to now successfully apply scenic protection
             principles.

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        •	   The focus on retaining vegetation in already subdivided areas is problematic as many
             significant trees are ageing and becoming unsafe.

        •	   The underlying zoning of many developed areas strongly favours development (i.e. in
             residential zones) and as such there is a direct conflict with achieving the intents of the
             scenic protection overlay.

        •	   The scenic protection overlay requires ‘discretionary’ permits for small extensions, garages
             and other improvements; this is time-consuming, expensive and ultimately achieves very
             little.

The ability to control development is much more effective on land that has not been subdivided
or where there is not yet an established pattern of development. At this point, layout, density of
development, vegetation protection controls, building envelopes, and design controls can be more
easily considered.

A better approach to the conservation of native vegetation is one that recognises that, in order to
maintain a sustainable treed landscape in the long term, vegetation needs to be retained and protected
in swathes rather than the focus being on individual trees in close proximity to houses.

The planning scheme should have different objectives for developed and undeveloped land in areas
that require protection of scenic values.

The Cataract Gorge and the rural approaches to the city continue to raise issues concerning scenic
protection, and warrant specific consideration.

Cataract	Gorge
Cataract Gorge is a Launceston icon. It is a major tourism asset for the city and is valued by the
community equally for its scenic, environmental and recreational attributes.

Much of the Gorge itself is in public ownership and as such can be afforded a high level of protection.
However, much on the edges and within view of the public areas is in private ownership and is therefore
subject to development.

Over recent years individual private developments have created public concern, particularly over their
proximity to and visual intrusion upon the Gorge precinct. This has created significant debate about
what is the ‘appropriate’ type and level of development. As a response to these concerns Council is
currently preparing both a conservation management plan and a visual management plan for the wider
gorge area to ensure that any future development is appropriately managed.

The Cataract Gorge visual management plan will be an integral part of the new planning scheme.




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The	rural	approaches	into	Launceston
The approaches into Launceston are largely free of the sort of development that would compromise
their rural character. This is an important asset for Launceston and one that is valued by the community.
It contrasts with Hobart, for example, where strip development has occurred along the major roads
into the city. The current Launceston planning scheme neither acknowledges nor seeks to protect this
important attribute.

Important considerations in this context are:

        •	   preventing strip development along roads into the city

        •	   reducing the impact of development on existing long distance views

        •	   setting new development back from highways

        •	   considering the appropriateness of new signage.

The major highways in Launceston are the getaways for tourists and provide the first impressions of
the city. Inappropriate development, unregulated signage and loss of significant views and vistas may
reduce visitor appeal.


The	North	Esk	River	and	Tamar	Estuary	corridors
Launceston’s rivers are central to the history and development of the city; they have a history of use
for transport, industry, import and export of goods, ship building, recreation and recently, tourism. Many
Council strategies including Vision 2020 recognise the importance of the rivers to the community and
the need to ensure that future development does not visually detract from the river precinct, or preclude
future public access or recreational opportunities.

Views of the river from the city should be recognised for their linking role and should be respected in the
assessment of new development.




Issue 24: Protecting Launceston's scenic amenity

The planning scheme must identify and protect the scenic attributes and areas of the city that are
valued by the community. The scenic protection overlay should assist Council to preserve and manage
the important vegetation, open spaces, views and vistas of the city.

Launceston's key scenic assets include the river corridors, the Cataract Gorge, the rural approaches
to the city, and the city's vegetated ridgelines and hill faces. The planning scheme should ensure that
new development and subdivision in areas of scenic protection only occurs where appropriate design,
layout, materials, development density, and vegetation protection measures are in place.

Issues paper for community comment
	        	       	        	       	
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