A new initiative for Launceston, which involves the relocation of the University of Tasmania’s main Launceston campus, intends to make the city one of Australia’s most liveable and innovative regional cities.
The City Deal was recently signed by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Premier Will Hodgman and Launceston mayor Albert van Zetten. The massive initiative is set to improve infrastructure and housing, stimulate economic growth and deliver an increase in jobs and university positions.
Launceston is Australia’s third oldest city, originally established in 1806. Now, the city is home to more than 80,000 residents. As its population continues to grow, the city faces a number of challenges, such as a relatively high rate of unemployment (particularly among youth), a relatively low rate of educational attainment, and slow rates of economic and population growth. The Launceston City Deal will address these challenges while building on the region’s natural advantages. The end goal of the deal is to balance a high level of liveability with a strong economic future.
The Launceston City Deal will improve infrastructure and housing as the city's population continues to grow
As the centrepiece of the historic deal, the University of Tasmania’s main Launceston will undergo a $260 million relocation to Inveresk. According to Smart Cities Plan, the move will boost the region’s economy and jobs, provide the capacity to grow domestic and international student numbers by 10,000, increase student retention rates, and strengthen industry engagement. The new campus will feature “world-class” energy efficiency and water-sensitive design, and incorporate principles of climate resilience (including against flooding) into the construction.
Artist's impression of the university campus at Inveresk. Image: University of Tasmania
Assistant minister for cities Angus Taylor says that the new Inveresk campus goes beyond the relocation of the university. “[It] is about driving growth, innovation, industry, jobs and skills in the great city of Launceston,” he says.
Complementing the university campus redevelopment is a $19.4 million investment in the City Heart project. This project will enliven Launceston’s historic CBD and create a competitive, vibrant and compelling city centre for locals and visitors. This rejuvenation will partly be achieved with the redevelopment of Launceston’s Civic Square and Brisbane Street Mall, the development of Wi-Fi infrastructure and the improvement of signage and public transport. The first milestone payment is expected in August.
Other highlights of the deal include two housing commitments, including the increase of in-fill development in the CBD, and the establishment of a working group to assist the private sector in redeveloping buildings in the CBD for residential purposes.
A Launceston Cultural Strategy will be developed in consultation with local cultural organisations and Aboriginal associations. The developed strategy will recommend actions to promote a sense of belonging and pride for the community. Crucially, it will also recognise Launceston’s history, Aboriginal heritage and other significant features to increase local engagement in cultural activities, and to promote Launceston as a year-round cultural tourism destination.
Addressing six agreed domains for action – governance, city planning and regulation; infrastructure and investment; jobs and skills; innovation and digital opportunities; liveability and sustainability; and housing – the City Deal will be implemented over the next five years. A Launceston City Deal Executive Board will ensure co-ordinated and accountable delivery of the project.
Below is a summary of the City Deal Commitments:
Governance, city planning and regulation
- Deliver a Regional Economic Development Strategy
- Develop agreed metrics to measure progress toward regional targets
- Deliver a regional industry forum
- Deliver a survey of local businesses on economic opportunities and labour market conditions
- Provide information and facilitation services for major projects
- Deliver an updated plan for the central city
- Deliver the Northern Suburbs Revitalisation Plan
- Deliver better governance and planning to improve the health of the Tamar Estuary
Infrastructure and investment
- Relocate and redevelop the University of Tasmania’s main Launceston campus
- Deliver a community-led master plan for the University of Tasmania’s Newnham campus
- Implement the Greater Launceston Metropolitan Passenger Transport Plan
- Reduce pollution in the Tamar Estuary through accountable investment
- Explore funding and financing for upgrades to the combined sewerage and stormwater system
Jobs and skills
- Deliver local jobs, apprenticeships and training
- Assist local job seekers to be competitive for local job opportunities
- Establish Aboriginal employment targets
- Provide work experience for disadvantaged youth
- Support an Entrepreneurship Facilitator
- Improve jobs and education pathways and establish a Jobs Pathways Director
- Establish a new Australian Army cadet facility and training program in Launceston’s northern suburbs
- Continue to support schools that choose to extend to years 11 and 12
Innovation and digital opportunities
- Deliver a university precinct that builds participation, research and development and industry connections
- Establish a Launceston hub of the National Institute for Forest Products Innovation
- Support the delivery of a Low-Power Wide-Area Network across Launceston
- Develop a bespoke Launceston catalogue on data.gov.au and NationalMap
- Publicly release non-sensitive data
- Deliver a consistent approach to local data release
- Support cooperation across local councils to improve service delivery through smart technology
- Improve digital literacy
Liveability and sustainability
- Implement the City Heart project
- Deliver a Launceston Cultural Strategy
- Increase in-fill development in the CBD
- Assist the private sector to redevelop buildings in Launceston’s CBD for residential purposes
A more in depth look at the project can be found here.