North Hobart is one of my favourite places in Hobart. It is an iconic and historic part of Hobart, that attracts thousands of locals every year, but it is not thriving. North Hobart should be a key priority for the City of Hobart, but recent years have proven that the council is not prioritising the cultural hub and businesses that provide such a wonderful destination for locals and tourists alike. From the complete mess of installation of parking meters, to the flawed report into the Condell place car park redevelopment and parking in North Hobart, to the 2018 rejected EOI process, it seems clear to me that the City of Hobart doesn't view North Hobart as a priority and is putting ideological views above pragmatic and practical solutions. To their credit, council has recently engaged with the community on their desires to ensure North Hobart thrives and you can view that report here. But is it just another one of the councils reports that won't be acted on? Is it a disingenuous report designed to placate business in the wake of the parking scandal? Only time will tell.
I have a big vision for North Hobart. I want to see the blocks between Burnett Street and Federal Street ("The Strip") become a central retail and entertainment precinct. To achieve that I want to see:
Ambient street lighting - Fairy lights above the roadway or in trees add a welcoming feel to evening dining customers. Think about the fairy lights in Salamanca and how much they add to the ambiance. Given our sunset times in winter, it will make North Hobart more welcoming throughout the year.
Change side streets to left turn in and out & remove roundabout - this will ensure the smoothest transit of traffic through the strip. Pedestrian crossings are managed by the existing three light sets. Roundabout removal facilitates a gold standard bidirectional protected bike lane.
Removal of on-street parking - This is dependent on development of Condell Place. Assuming Condell place has expanded parking with modern licence plate recognition boom gates, which make access a breeze and 60 minute free parking it should serve everyones' needs.
Boulevard footpaths and dining - Removal of on street parking enables significantly wider footpaths and opens opportunities for exceptional on-street dining. COVID-19 has resulted in more people wanting to dine in the outdoors. Widening footpaths enables heating, street trees and umbrellas to support local businesses expanding to meet new customer needs.
Inclusion of Elizabeth Street Uber eats priority area and 10 minute public parking - Finding an appropriate area along "The Strip" for a designated Uber eats parking area. This could be a painted section of road, or pull in bay. Uber eats is an important component of food business in 2022, we need to recognise that and come up with creative solutions to ensure restaurants can serve both walk in, takeaway and remote customers effectively.
Addition of a protected bike lane - Alterations to parking, footpaths and side streets (which will result in removal of the roundabout) opens up opportunities for a protected bi-directional bike lane for cyclists and scooter riders. Keeping riders safe and getting fast moving micro-mobility devices off our footpaths, further enhancing the pedestrian experience and boulevard feel.
Annual food festival - to support local businesses Elizabeth street should be closed once a year for an annual street food festival.
Condell Place - The elephant in the room
In my view, the key component to North Hobart's success is the development of Condell Place. I believe this must be re-visted and will ensure that council does so if elected. So why is Condell place so important?
Because of the recent bad press about parking in North Hobart, customers from Greater Hobart report that they are dissuaded from going to North Hobart due to parking concerns. Whether or not this is accurate is inconsequential, the damage to North Hobart's parking reputation has been done. The only way to repair that damage is to improve the perception of easy parking in North Hobart.
An excavated multi-story carpark in North Hobart has many benefits:
Park and ride during the week - Due to its proximity up Burnett Street from the Brooker Highway, it is a relatively good location for a park and ride facility, assuming cheaper weekday parking than inner city multistories. It could include considerable numbers of bike lockers with 240v power points. This would enable commuters from greater Hobart to park in North Hobart and store a last km bike, scooter, e-bike, or skateboard in the carpark itself - and charge them right there. For those who choose to walk the 1.5km to work, it will help activate the MidTown Elizabeth street strip. Workers will stop to pick up a coffee, have a browse in the retail shop or stop to pick up takeaway or eat in on the way home. Recognising that public transport in Greater Hobart is woeful, practical and pragmatic solutions like this will also take more cars out of the city proper.
Removal of on street parking & certainty - One of the key elements to parking is certainty. If there is efficient and cost effective parking in a future Condell Place carpark and no opportunity for on-street parking, users will have certainty that there will be parking available, how much it will cost and where to find it. For a time, on-street parking on Elizabth street was not guarenteed, leading to complaints and customers going elsewhere. The implementation of 30 minute parking along the strip has lead to certainty of getting a park if you are staying a short time but has contributed to the perceived difficulty of parking in "The Strip"
Future proofing North Hobart - Providing a more parking than is currently required will help North Hobart to expand as the population of Hobart increases. It will also enable proper electric car charging infrastructure to be installed at 2022 standards.
Most of my vision for North Hobart is supported by The Council's own reports, but they have failed to act. I don't believe the broader considerations of development in Condell Place have been considered, nor the potential uptick in visitors due to changing perceptions. Most business owners in North Hobart that I have spoken to agree that increasing parking in Condell Place is a no brainer.
Lets have investment in North Hobart to see it thrive and not just survive
Lets be aspirational and invest in a big vision for the future
What do you think?
Note: this vision previously included a proposal to close local side streets to Elizabeth street. It has been amended to left turn only after listening to feedback from local residents and patrons of North Hobart.