The following comes from The Mercury newspaper, journalist Jennifer Crawley.
Mt Wellington opens for development under new management plan
MT Wellington is open for business, with a new management plan allowing for a wide range of commercial development, including a controversial cable car.
The Wellington Park Management Plan, which took effect this week, opens the gates to commercial development at the pinnacle and The Springs.
The tourism industry has welcomed the potential for new drawcards at the Hobart landmark, which attracts more than 350,000 visitors every year.
Tourism Industry Council Tasmania boss Luke Martin said the plan was “overdue, historic and very welcome”.
“It creates the possibility of a whole series of new markets on the top and at The Springs,” Mr Martin said.
The plan allows for a visitor centre, interpretation centre, viewing shelter cafe, restaurant and take-away food premises, bus terminal, council depot, shuttle buses, cable cars and aerial ropeways, and funicular rail and cable-rail systems.
There has been no commercial development on the mountain since a health spa and chalet were destroyed by bushfire at The Springs in 1967.
Mr Martin said there was great potential for tourism development on the pinnacle.
“We have 350,000 tourists going to the summit each year, with no economic activity out of them,” he said.
“There is a market for something on the summit to vastly improve what’s there now.
“Even if the cable car doesn’t happen, we will still get something.” Environment, Parks and Heritage Minister Brian Wightman said the plan allowed for a range of developments in the park, including a cable car.
“The new plan strongly promotes the development of new visitor services and infrastructure on Mt Wellington, but also ensures its special values are protected,” he said.
Developments specifically allowed at The Springs include a backpacker hostel, bed and breakfast establishment, holiday cabin, residential hotel, walkers bunkhouse/hut and cable-rail systems.
While the plan allows for commercial development at The Springs and the pinnacle, Wellington Park Management Trust chairwoman Christine Mucha said the trust preferred major development to be centered at The Springs.
“We would like to see The Springs developed and Hobart City Council would like to see it developed,” she said.
“It is the central point to start walks and bikes and it is lacking facilities.” Hobart developer Ali Sultan’s approval for a visitor centre, restaurant and carparking at The Springs expires next month.
Hobart Lord Mayor Damon Thomas said no one could do anything at The Springs until that lapsed.
“The playing field opens up but not until that happens,” Ald Thomas said.
The new plan was “a big step forward,” Ms Mucha said.
“It was two years in the making and before the Planning Commission for nine months.
It’s not just about Mt Wellington, it’s the whole mountain range, Glenorchy and crown land.” Greens environment spokeswoman Cassy O’Connor said talk of development on the pinnacle was disturbing.
“It’s disappointing and disturbing to hear the state’s Environment Minister talking up inappropriate development such as a cable car on Mt Wellington,” she said.
“Brian Wightman knows very well that any cable car on the mountain would damage its natural and cultural values.”
Cable car proponent Adrian Bold said his group had waited for the plan to be ratified before taking the next step with their cable car vision.
They will have a proposal launch next month, a second round of public consultation and the plans before the council by mid-year, he said.
“We are very excited the plan is finally ratified,” he said.