Cygnet’s population growth seems likely to outpace infrastructure abilities
The population of Cygnet is growing much faster than either Council or most of us in the community anticipated.
This has provided opportunities and relative prosperity for some, but there have also been negative impacts. Houses and rentals are now far more expensive which means that there are people who were born and grew up in Cygnet who simply can’t afford to live here any longer and are having to move away from family and friends.
This is not good for the sense of community that Cygnet has always valued so highly.
A recent report from SGS Economics & Planning shows that in the past 9 years, 110 new housing lots have been created within the township itself and they estimate that there will be demand for another 730 dwellings by 2036 and around 100 of these are already in the pipeline.
The report does not include the many new dwellings being built in the surrounding area, or “greater Cygnet”. These, of course, contribute to the traffic and other infrastructure issues. The SGS report concludes that “In the current market, land values may become prohibitive for households to move into Cygnet.”
President of the Cygnet Association, Howard Wilcockson, says that
“Council has fallen behind in providing the infrastructure needed to keep up with population growth. More houses, more people, more traffic. Twenty years ago traffic was hardly a consideration but now Mary Street is often congested and even finding a parking spot or simply crossing the street can be a challenge. It would seem to me that there is a substantial pedestrian /vehicle clash which could easily result in a serious accident.”
Mr Wilcockson pointed out that the issue has been around for a long time.
In 2004 Council engaged the town planners, Inspiring Place to develop a Cygnet Township Development Plan. Even back then the planners could see that Mary Street would become congested as it is not only the main street but is the only road through Cygnet. The planners proposed that a new street should be built on the flat land behind the shops.
The 2004 plan was revised in 2009 and the proposed new street was extended to join Mary Street next to the BP servo with a new car park at the entrance. This was endorsed by Council but it’s now well over a decade since then and nothing has been done.
In the meantime Council continually approves new residential developments and traffic congestion and parking gets worse though the new car park behind the Town Hall certainly helps.
“We recognise that this is a major project and no one expected it to happen overnight. But Council has now had plenty of time to purchase the required land and put the funding aside to proceed. So far no plans have been prepared and Council has given us no indication of a time frame.
The Cygnet Association has lobbied Council over this issue for quite a few years but we have received no meaningful commitment.
We call on Council to act now and, at the very least, acquire the land and finalise the plans so that if the State or Federal Governments are looking for “shovel ready” projects to stimulate the economy this can be presented as ready to go.
We understand why people want to settle here. It’s a great place to live and the Cygnet Association wants it to stay that way. But if the population grows much faster than the infrastructure and services can cope with, it will not remain so.”
One of Council’s primary roles is to ensure that infrastructure matches development.
If you are interested in reading the entire SGS report it is available here: SGS Report
17 November 2020
New subdivision planned for Cygnet
(This is a copy of the representation that tCA has sent to Huon Valley Council)
PSA 2/2017 and SUB 36/2017 Channel Highway, Cygnet
The Cygnet Association committee has discussed the proposed rezoning and subdivision of land on the lower side of the Channel Highway (Lot 1) currently zoned Particular Purpose and within the Urban Growth Boundary of Cygnet. The proposal is to rezone the land to General Residential, with a subdivision of 61 lots (72 houses) with potential additional dwellings on many lots.
The Cygnet Association recognises the increasingly rapid population growth that has been occurring within the township and in surrounding areas and the need for provision for additional housing within the township, both through infill and greenfield development. It is likely that the lots created through this subdivision and advertised online will result in many new residents from other parts of Tasmania, interstate and overseas. Current residents and businesses need to be assured that the demand on services, such as health and education, have been fully considered as well as the need for jobs for new residents of working age. Access to the assessments made, ie the data, should made available.
Cygnet is a small town with a historic streetscape and a diverse population and has for many years been characterised by its arts and cultural activity, so the design of new housing within the town should ideally reflect these aspects of the life of Cygnet. The situation at the head of the spectacular bay that is Port Cygnet is one of the important features of the town and views of the water are part of the draw for people to live in the area.
The rezoning and subdivision of the site at Lot 1 Channel Highway represents an opportunity for subdivision with high quality design standards and visual amenity. This is particularly important when the area of the subdivision is viewed in relation to the rest of the town because it is such a large site compared to previous subdivisions.
Issues that were raised by the Cygnet Association committee include the following:
- Infrastructure provision in the centre of Cygnet is currently being stretched by the growing population, both within Cygnet and especially in the surrounding area, and the council’s township plans of 2004 and 2009 must be immediately reviewed and action taken to relieve traffic congestion in the centre of the town.
- The entrance/exit of the subdivision is close to the crest of the hill for traffic from the south and the plans show no slip road for entry into the subdivision from the south. From a road safety perspective this appears to be more important than the road widening on the north side because the sight distance is much shorter and traffic entering the town has been travelling on a country road, and therefore likely to have been travelling at a higher speed than that from the centre of the town. The speed limit drops to 50km/h shortly before the crest. There is a real risk that minor traffic hold-ups at the entrance/exit will cause up to a dozen vehicles to queue as far as the crest and that rear-end collisions will result.
There has recently been a proposal by TasWater to move the outlet from the Cygnet Waste Water Treatment Plant (CTP) so that the discharge is further down Port Cygnet and further out in the bay in deeper water.
Detailed data on the volume of sewage currently processed and the total expected increase if this subdivision and others proceed needs to be provided, since it is proposed to reduce the attenuation zone around the CTP (PSA 1/2020) in order for this subdivision to proceed, and the complete data is important in that context.
- There is potential to design the development using the principles of water sensitive urban design as set out by Hobart City Council. This is particularly important for a greenfield site where there is potential to use modern design and technology to minimise runoff into Port Cygnet, which is an important conservation area.
- Permeable surfaces and appropriate vegetation can both reduce runoff and increase residents’ amenity in an area which is the boundary between the town, the rural surrounds and, most importantly, the waterway.
- Is it sufficient to use a treatment solution that simply removes pollutants from the stormwater without making provision for minimising runoff?
- The rezoning includes the removal of 60m of the scenic overlay so that building lots immediately adjacent to the Channel Highway can be provided. The scenic overlay was included in the Huon Valley Interim Planning Scheme 2015 in order to protect the views of Port Cygnet and, if anything, the scenic protection corridor should be extended back towards Cygnet so that views along the whole section between numbers 7381 and 7357 Channel Highway are protected. Buildings in the subdivision would then be further from the road and less subject to traffic noise.
- This extension of the scenic overlay would also allow a footpath between the existing highway and the subdivision and enable greater appreciation of the views towards Port Cygnet.
- Permit conditions for the site could also specify appropriate street trees, which would contribute to water uptake and reduce runoff. Such landscaping would enhance the desirability of the lots, thus increasing the developer’s return and the rates income to the council from the subdivision.
Public Open Space
- The land allocated for public open space is the plan shown is minimal and this is not consistent with the council’s Health and Recreation Strategy in which the council recognises the need for recreational walking tracks convenient to townships.
- In the subdivision plan additional public open space could be allocated to provide setback of dwellings from the Channel Highway by 10 – 15m to provide a walking track for residents of Cygnet as well as those living in the development.
- The bushfire hazard zone to the east of the subdivision could be rezoned Open Space and a narrow strip behind lots 42 to 48, where there is already proposed to be a sewer easement, could be allocated to public open space to link a walking track from the Esplanade to the Channel Highway via the scenic route around the subdivision.
- The footpath beside the Channel Highway from no. 7381 to the corner of Smith Street would need to be upgraded.
At the June 26th meeting of Huon Valley Council two significant items related to Cygnet.
- The decision was made to sell the Cygnet Medical Centre
- It was decided to demolish the existing toilets in Burtons Reserve and replace with new ones.
The minutes of the meeting will be on the HVC website within a few days.
For those of you who are interested here is the letter we received from council about the proposed medical centre sale:
Cygnet Township Development Plan 2009
The 10th anniversary of this development plan is rolling round and little has been achieved. We know that money is always in short supply but traffic and parking are becoming ever more significant issues. The population of our township and surrounding areas is increasing and with this the income that council receives from us increases as well. Surely after 10 years it is, at the very least, time to purchase the required land for Stage 1 – the proposed new street.
This new street would alleviate much of the congestion on Mary Street by removing some of the traffic and allowing delivery vehicles direct access to the back of the shops.
Proposed sale of the Cygnet Medical Centre
28th March UPDATE
At yesterday’s HVC meeting it was resolved unanimously to revisit the decision by Adriana Taylor to sell the Cygnet Medical Centre.
For information about the “Old School Farm” development consultation click “HERE”
Huon Valley Council (HVC) owns a large block (approx. 4ha / 10 acres) of vacant land, right in the heart of Cygnet, behind the new Medical Centre in George Street. This was the Cygnet Area School farm and currently HVC /ratepayers get no income or other financial benefit from ownership of this valuable land. It may even be costing us money.
In 2003 plans were drawn up for a 31 housing lot sub-division and then in 2009 new plans were prepared for a combination of 13 housing lots and 18 pairs of con-joined “independent living units”. For various reasons nothing has happened. For more click here: More ……..
Looking south at the council depot
Cygnet was once a “gold rush” town and there is still gold in our hills. As for the Le Weekend cabaret a glass of wine and finger food will be provided. Do come to this year’s cabaret, support our town, learn more about it’s history and support The Cygnet Association. Bring your friends! It should be a great night.
Keep Australia Beautiful
has just awarded a Heritage and Culture certificate of excellence to:
Le Weekend Team
Le Weekend at Cygnet – Celebrating Cygnet’s French history