The people’s mountain
Wellington Park is a much loved feature of Hobart life, and its proper management is of great interest to the community.
The proposal to build a cable car proposes to create a new development zone on the Pinnacle of Mt Wellington.
I support the Springs remaining as the main commercial development zone and should be where new visitor facilities are built; and I think commercial development at the Pinnacle should be prohibited.
I also recognise that Ferntree is a current commercial zone on the mountain that provides valuable services for visitors as well as for residents of Ferntree. I know the business owners in Ferntree are keen to see more visitors there, and are frustrated by all the attention given to a cable car when they are already employing people. Ferntree could be enhanced as a visitor information hub until such time that the Springs is developed.
There are a number of reasons why I do not favour commercial development at the Pinnacle:
- A major development on the Pinnacle (like a cable car) would struggle to satisfy development requirements regarding building design, visual impact and the protection of natural and cultural values.
- A major project on the Pinnacle is likely to be expensive to develop because of the lack of services, the inhospitable climate, limited access, and the costs of ensuring any development is environmentally benign. Because of these costs, I believe that a commercial development on the Pinnacle would struggle and would inevitably need public subsidies to survive.
- In the case of a cable car being the focus of a major development at the Pinnacle, I believe there is a risk that the developer would inevitably push for the closure of the road to the general public in order to make the development viable. This would be an extremely poor outcome for public choice and equitable access to the Pinnacle.
- A development at the Pinnacle would undermine both the existing businesses at Ferntree and any new development at the Springs. Development at the Pinnacle would likely mean the proposal at the Springs would not be viable.
- It would be a perverse outcome for a Pinnacle development to proceed at the expense of one at the Springs, which is a better site for a range of reasons – a more amenable climate, more days when a city view is visible, and access to more bush walks than the Pinnacle. The Springs development could also be an ideal place for some of the 70+ businesses that are currently operating on the mountain to base themselves.
While I do not favour commercial development on the Pinnacle, I do support an improvement of the facilities at the Pinnacle including the need for an improvement of the shelter, signage and other facilities. The older of the two transmission towers could also be removed as I understand all users are able to use the newer transmission tower.
Hobart’s strength as a destination will be to focus on its ability to offer natural experiences where people can escape the ‘hustle and bustle’ of cities and man-made attractions. I do not believe that a cable car to the Pinnacle is viable and is detracting attention away from much more promising and appealing options.
There are ways that we can continue to develop Mount Wellington in ways that enhance the experiences for tourists and residents, but commercial development at the Pinnacle is not one of these.by