Wednesday, October 07, 2009

HCC Candidate's reply: Rob Valentine

Text below of reply from Lord Mayor Rob Valentine, received 15 October:

Hi Scott,

Unfortunately I’ve been rather busy with duties and haven’t been able to get to your survey on this one until now, knowing it was going to take some time to explain the matter.

The walkway issue has certainly been on the agenda since about 1925 I believe, so it is not only a few decades, but about 80 or so years! There are many issues in this one.

The immediate governing factor here I believe is what the Government is willing to accept. A firm commitment is needed as to what they are willing to approve for development on Crown land before Council is in a position to develop anything as such.

The matter is presently before the Council and has been so for some time, as you rightly point out. The processes that Council has had to go through to secure components of the two blocks that have prevented full access to the foreshore have been very time-consuming and necessary, in order that due process is followed. To debate the intricacies of such processes at this stage is not that relevant as it is in the past, nor could I do it full justice given the confidential nature of private property acquisitions in any event.

Council officers are however drawing up concept plans I believe to assist the debate on the matter (I will check tomorrow on this one).

Without committing to a final position at this stage I believe a low impact “scramble track” that requires grooming of the rocky foreshore to improve pedestrian safety and access has merit. The reasons for my current position are as follows:

1. As it is a matter that is presently before the Council, it needs to be emphasised that elected members are prevented from going into a debate on such matters with there mind made up. It shows bias and such behaviour has been taken to court by aggrieved parties before in other municipal areas, so we must be careful as to what is expressed, given that the matter has not been concluded (of course if a definite position is expressed, the elected member could simply vacate the council chamber and not vote so as to avoid the obvious conflict of interest, but that would seem to nullify their reason for being elected to Council on such a matter in the first place).

2. Regardless of what people may want, as there is Crown Land involved with what ever configuration is chosen, the Crown must give its permission for development to occur. After writing to Minister Llewellyn on this issue, Council has since received a response basically stating that a low impact walkway is acceptable, as you are aware I believe, but he has also stated that it would need to be acceptable to the local residents for the Government to approve of Crown land being used in this way.

3. Cost, sea level rise due to climate change, and also natural, built and cultural heritage issues all come into play here. To construct anything at all, apart from a groomed foreshore track, is likely to result in something that needs to comply with Disability Discrimination Act requirements. This could result in a walkway that could resemble a small highway almost, given that it would need to be something in the order of metres wide to handle two passing wheel chairs, high enough to be above the highest tide with railings to stop people from falling into the water, possibly lit from above due to salt water issues, and possibly wide enough to accept an emergency vehicle should such access be required, given the significant length of the walkway. Then there is also the issue of heritage to be considered and its location on the natural headland of what is a significant heritage precinct. I believe all of these things may need to be considered against the Australian Building code for such structures.

I may indeed be wrong about the issues listed above, but whoever is elected to Council this month will need to wait for the officers qualified advice (as required under the Local Government Act) and possible public consultation on the final design, if any, before final decisions are made.

I hope this clarifies the matter for you.


Rob Valentine


Anonymous said...

Seems like a reasonable response...

Except that it's been an issue for EIGHTY FREAKIN' YEARS.

If Rob Valentine really cared about this, why did council (and state) allow construction and modification of a couple of jetties on the foreshore over the last few years that further hindered access, with no regard for a future walkway. Shouldn't they have disallowed all works until a proper decision on a walkway is made?

I believe a low impact “scramble track” that requires grooming of the rocky foreshore to improve pedestrian safety and access has merit.

Yet, he then carries on with the issue of the Disability Discrimination Act. Fair enough - but surely that would also apply to any "scramble tracks" if it is official council work to improve access as it would only allow access for the fully able.

Why is the government concerned with the wants of very few locals on the foreshore in this instance, but not in other areas of proposed developments?

So what if it has to be as wide as a car, Riverwalk on the Brisbane river is a great example of a walkway, while it isn't subject to rough seas (& Battery Pt would have to allow for that), it is subject to far greater tidal variations, and river flooding.

The Riverwalk even has lifting sections to allow boat access to pontoons inside it.


Anonymous said...

Also, if you weren't aware of it, you may be interested with the extension of the Bellerive boarwalk through the front of the yacht club.

Surely if Clarence can work with the BYC to ensure access across a hazardous slipway and industrial area, Hobart can build a walkway around Battery Pt. -oh wait, the BYC was cooperative and even if they weren't they wouldn't of had any friends in power to help them.


tassieblather said...

Hi James,

thanks for your comments. I am aware of the Bellerieve Boardwalk, and had a letter in the Mercury a week or two ago noting the fact that they could build one with a retractable bridge quick smart, yet over in the capital, we're still at stalemate.

Cheers, Scott Plimpton