Sunday, February 25, 2024

Hobart celebrates new heart of city

The City of Hobart Council is celebrating the completion of the second stage of the New Town Precinct Upgrade – a more than $1.5 million project that has created a true commercial and community heart for inner-city Hobart.

Work on stage two of the New Town Precinct upgrade began in early 2023 and took eight months to complete.

“New Town is Hobart’s oldest ‘suburb’, having been settled within a week of the primary settlement at Sullivans Cove. It has a great character, many beautiful heritage buildings, and a diverse range of shops,” said Hobart Lord Mayor, Anna Reynolds.

“We hope this investment in the public spaces of Main Road gives the whole area a lift.”

The majority of the works were funded through Phase 3 of the Australian Government’s Local Roads and Community Infrastructure (LRCI) Program, with $1.37 million in funding provided for the upgrade.

Additional support through the Australian Government’s Road Safety Program, jointly funded by the Tasmanian Government also helped to build pedestrian crossings on New Town Road.

The progression of stage three works for this project, which include improvements to the Roope Street intersection and surrounding areas, will be considered by the City of Hobart in future financial years.

“This project in the New Town Precinct of Hobart is indicative of how the Australian Government recognises the importance of working with the Tasmanian Government to partner with local councils to deliver vital community improvements in the streets that locals use each day,” said Federal Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Carol Brown.

“This investment will give local businesses and residents even more pride in the hub of their community with street beautification while retaining and enhancing the heritage and character of Hobart’s oldest suburb.

“It’s great to see that these additional investments for vulnerable traffic areas, not only in New Town but right across Australia, will make accessing these traffic areas safer for pedestrians and drivers alike.”

Tasmanian Infrastructure and Transport Minister, Michael Ferguson said that while the upgrades improve the amenity and accessibility of the retail precinct, they also improve the safety for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists.

“Vulnerable road users will always come out worse in a crash involving motor vehicle, so it is important that we build infrastructure to reduce the risk of crash,” Mr Ferguson said.

“The new pedestrian crossings on New Town Road will help keep the community safe by providing a safer crossing experience.

“This project demonstrates how all tiers of government can work together to implement safer infrastructure to support our communities.

“The Tasmania Government is continuing to invest in safer infrastructure initiatives through the Vulnerable Road User Program.”

Lord Mayor Anna Reynolds said the upgrade was part of Council’s long-term strategy to invest in the beautification and upgrade of neighbourhood shopping streets.

“These local hubs are so important for creating a sense of community and for supporting local small businesses that are the anchors of these places,” she said.

“The design process that followed involved a community and business team who worked with City of Hobart staff, a fabulous street party to test ideas and several rounds of community surveys and displays.

“The end product is the result of many local people generously giving their time, ideas and passion. I want to thanks everyone who has been involved along this journey.”

City Mobility Portfolio Chair, Ryan Posselt said local businesses and the community played very important roles in the development of the project.

“The City of Hobart is very grateful for the New Town businesses and community members who have been critical to the success of the New Town Precinct upgrade,” he said.

“We worked closely with businesses and residents to ensure they knew what was happening at every point of this precinct upgrade, and we appreciate everyone’s patience and feedback during the construction works.

“A project of this size and scale is always daunting for everyone involved, and comes with pain points, but the result is something the community can be proud of and embrace.

“New Town now has a true community and business hub that is accessible with a focus on pedestrian safety, access and amenity.

“It has a beautifully designed and accessible sheltered bus stop right next to local cafes and businesses, and two new separate pedestrian crossings will make this a much safer community space.”

As well as new landscaped green spaces and seating, the project features a collection of works called Hybrids by Tasmanian-born artist Matt Drysdale from the Office for Collective Design.

“Matt’s series of sculptural landmarks are also highly functional, creating more public seating, planting and places for posting community notices,” said Cr Posselt.

“The Hybrids designs drew on analysis of the streetscape and an understanding of the community desire for a bold work that defines the New Town retail strip.

“The new space will provide a place for the community to interact and build meaningful relationships, whether striking up a conversation while waiting for a bus in the new bus shelter, or enjoying a coffee on the sculptural seating.

“The upgraded New Town retail precinct will strengthen community ties and sense of place for residents,” he said.

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