Hobart has a housing problem. The superheated housing and rental markets are doing real, tangible damage to our society. I recently heard from a doctor in training, working as a specialist at The Royal Hobart Hospital who has a wife, young baby and a dog. He had intended on bringing his his family to Hobart for his 12 month contract, and likely stay on to work here in the longer term, assuming he enjoyed his work and lifestyle in this magnificent city. Unfortunately, he was unable to find an appropriate rental. This has resulted in him finding a share house and leaving his family at home in Melbourne. The consequence is that we will not retain his specialist skill set in the long term. He will go back to Melbourne and his family. This is just one example of how housing can impact on our future as a city. The young engineer featured in the recent “Tiny Homes” proposal is another, as is all the young people being pushed further and further out of the city.
So it is in everyone’s interest to investigate ways to increase inner city housing stock. We also need to increase the range of housing. In Hobart, free standing houses predominate. Some residents actually prefer town houses and apartments, and increasing the mix of housing types is part of the solution to create a vibrant liveable city.
I was prompted to write this when I saw the 3D render of the proposed new KFC on the corner of Harrington and Patrick street. I am disappointed to see a single storey fast food store proposed in an inner city location. Especially when all existing structures are to be demolished. These developments provide great opportunity to design amazing buildings that encompass some residential elements. They don’t have to be 10 storey monstrosities, but they can be beautiful 3-4 storey buildings. I think the days of new single story commercial, retail and light industrial are over in the city. I also don’t think that single storey they serve the city as they should or could.
A great example of what can be achieved with great design is The Rox building (pictured) on the corner of Elizabeth and Brisbane Streets. It is an aesthetically pleasing building. In fact, it is one of my favourite buildings in the city. But it doesn’t just look great, it serves multiple purposes. No longer a car park and vacuum store, The Rox now has 3 apartments and a penthouse. As well as, a luxury car dealer on the ground floor. It is great use of inner city space. And while I know the building is currently used as a hotel it still provides great inspiration for what can be done with a little bit of creativity and vision.
Moving forward, let’s ensure that new build developments in the inner city:
Make efficient use of space
Are mixed use and include some residential components wherever possible
Are beautifully designed
Are aspirational and inspirational
Together we can make an even better future for Hobart.