People Power saves Battery Point

As I stood in the small circular park in the centre of Arthur Circus it reminded me of an English village green. A magnificent oak tree draped in rich autumn foliage enhanced the image. A man and his dog came out of one of the colonial cottages and we struck up a conversation. He pointed to an ugly grey, square box of a three-story apartment block just in the street behind his cottage.

“This area was very close to being all like that” he said

The 1960's apartment block. "Urban renewal!"

The 1960’s apartment block. “Urban renewal!”

That night I checked it out on Google…

During the 1930’s this suburb had become very run down and had a seedy reputation.

In 1948 “The Cook Plan” was put forward, it was a radical scheme of urban renewal which involved tearing down all the old buildings and replacing them with “modern” blocks. Fortunately this was rejected due to the cost involved.

A group of residents formed the “Battery Point Progress Association” to protest against the plan. The areas charm was beginning to be recognized.

In the 1950’s a massive redevelopment was threatened. The developers began to circle like a flock of vultures. The residents and developers came into open conflict. The council tried to implement a scheme to radically change Battery Point, but a group of residents fought the change and eventually in 1967 a planning scheme for Battery Point was prepared and after much consultation and many changes it was put in place in 1979.

In 1979 the Battery Point Planning Scheme marked a milestone by identifying and protecting the precinct of Battery Point as a townscape, not just individual places.  The tenor of this unique planning scheme responds to the way the place evolved and guides future change in a way that retains cultural integrity.  

Since then, Battery Point has become nationally and internationally recognised as a heritage destination.  The 76ha area was listed on the Register of the National Estate in 1980 for its: “Defined geographical unity which has ensured its preservation as a homogeneous historic precinct”.

Between 1967 and 1979 many battles were fought by developers. Most were rejected but a few reached the planning stage and received building permits. This ugly apartment block was one that got through.

Thank goodness “People Power” prevailed. Battery Point and the adjoining Salamanca Markets are now one of the most prized tourist attractions in Hobart.

Look closely in the right hand side and you can see the apartment block

Look closely at the right hand side and you can see the apartment block

I would rather live in this delightful, photogenic colonial cottage than the square, soulless apartment with no garden and neighbours on all sides. Which do you prefer?


Categories: Australia, Battery Point, Hobart, Tasmania | Tags: , , , , | 12 Comments

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12 thoughts on “People Power saves Battery Point

  1. Ian Broinowski

    Sadly we are still fighting to preserve the area. 2 Derwent Lane is now up for demolishon.

    This is my letter to business people and anyone willing to listen
    Battery Point
    Hobart 7004
    Monday, 3 February 2014

    Dear Business Owner,
    “With feathers plucked the Golden Goose will, in time, lay her eggs no more”
    I am writing to share a concern with you which I believe may well affect the long term viability of your Battery Point business.
    In 2007 a 1936 cottage owned by Featherstone was demolished and replaced by a contemporary building; in 2009 permission was granted to demolish 21 Waterloo Crescent and currently there is an application to do the same to 2 Derwent Lane a 1913 house owned by the Purdon family.
    Planning regulations focus on individual buildings and each one of these has been presented as having little architectural or heritage value and indeed in another context they could well be seen from this perspective.
    However they are located in Battery Point which, we know, as a complete entity has tremendous value to businesses such as yours and to the economy as a whole.
    This idea is supported by the renowned architect, Mr Robert Morris-Nunn in the Mercury on Saturday 25th Jan 20014 and I wholeheartedly endorse his sentiment that, ‘Tasmania can forge a cultural renaissance by harnessing is creative potential and respecting its heritage’
    As an economist, I think we need to examine the net worth of Battery Point as an asset to Hobart and the State as a whole. It is time, I believe, for an independent, economically focussed study into the financial benefits of the area which can then be used in key planning decisions in the future. Especially how much net income does it create, how many people are either directly or indirectly employed, how many businesses benefit from their association with Battery Point, to what extent is it used as a marketing tool to attract tourists and the cruise liner sector? It is important for planning and management of the area to also know how many tourists visit each year, what attracts them and how much each is likely to spend during their stay.
    To what extent does the government use the area to promote tourism and how much government revenue is generated through taxes and other charges?
    Critically though the report needs to consider what will be the long term economic consequences of individual houses being demolished or drastically altered in the area.
    At what point will Battery Point simply become just another suburb with a few historic buildings and cottages dotted amongst recently constructed homes? At what point will tourist marketers turn their attention away from Battery Point and toward other places to send their flock? How will this in turn affect the businesses and individuals who derive their livelihood from the uniqueness that is Battery Point? A point also endorsed by Morris-Nunn, ‘It (heritage) can underpin a community’s sense of self-belief and add considerably to its economy.( Mercury on ‘Soapbox’ Saturday 25th Jan 20014)
    I do not have any political affiliations, nor am I a member of any organisation but simply a person who is deeply worried about the future of one of our most important cultural and economic assets.
    I would of course like to challenge all political parties and each individual candidate in the forth-coming State election to publically state if they will not only support, but instigate the commissioning an economic assessment of the Battery Point precinct and to study the long term impact of demolition and drastic form alteration to tourism, employment and the economy.
    Thankyou for taking the time to read my letter and I respectfully leave it to you to decide what action, if any, should be taken to address this issue.

    Yours sincerely

    Dr Ian Broinowski
    Battery Point
    Hobart 7004


    • Thank you for posting the letter as a comment to my post on Battery Point. It is very sad to think that it may all be one day demolished. I thought it was a beautiful area of Hobart to discover and explore and walk around and I’m sure many other visitors would make it a special place to visit. Surely the Hobart council must see the benefit to tourism and the overall economy of Hobart and Tasmania.

      I thought Hobart was an undiscovered gem. Maybe not enough is done to market it. But then maybe the locals want to keep it that way…


  2. Laurence Solvyns

    I have a cottage in Arthur Circus and love to share it with others however the Hobart council does not allow me to rent it out to tourist. I live there on occations and so do friends and family as we all enjoy Hobart and it’s history. Some local people are very vindictive towards us by not letting us share this wonderfull site as we like to share what we have. We look after the property and keep it fully furnished with localy made furniture using diferent Tasmanian timbers. The local people are very selfish and do not seem to understand how much Hobart needs to rely on tourism to keep what they have.
    Hobart is very short on good accommodation and many people would like to experience this great atmosphere. When we are home we have many people just knoking on our door to ask questions and wanting to look inside. It is so nice to share so why are some people so evil??


    • I found Hobart to be a very unexpected city to spend time in. It has huge tourist potential but maybe the reason I loved it so much was that it was not touristy, a real catch 22 situation. As more tourists discover Hobart it may lose that laid back, relaxed atmosphere. I was there June to August, just out side the high season, and experienced your amazing Autumn full of colour and great weather. I agree Arthur Circus would be a wonderful place to stay, I hope to return one day to see more of Tasmania as I fell in love with your tiny Island State.


  3. Utterly charming. So much better than the alternative you mention.


  4. Pingback: Lingering Look at Windows : Colonial Style | gypsy life

  5. The cottages are so much nicer. Thank you for an interesting history lesson, Pauline!


  6. ans so say all of us!


  7. Good one Pauline.


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