A proposal for a large parcel of land near Swansea to become an international tourist enclave has provoked widespread concern on its potential environmental, economic and cultural impacts.
In November 2016, Friends of the East Coast published an interview with Professor Michael Buxton, RMIT University Professor Buxton predicted the likely outcome of a deregulated planning scheme being proposed by the Liberal State Government.  Below is an extract from the Prof. Buxton interview:

Problems with major integrated tourist developments

“Aside from misapplication of rural zones the new planning scheme is going to allow major integrated tourist developments, visitor accommodation, and commercial uses.  This will attract national and international investors without a doubt.  It may take some time to gradually build up but Tasmania already is seen as a potentially major tourist destination in its most scenic areas not just in places like Hobart and in Parks.  So it is expected that increased national and international visitor pressure will affect development interest on the most scenic areas of the Tasmanian eastern and north east coasts.


Now the preference for these big resort developers is to have integrated resorts with conference centres, massive visitor accommodation of various kinds, from hotel to cabins; all sorts of accommodation types, recreation, restaurants; all integrated.  Developers want to isolate their resorts from townships, to capture most of the dollar at the most scenic places.  That means they’ll privatise the most scenic landscapes that are publicly accessible now.  People in a way have some measure of involvement with scenic places because we can see them, use them, walk on the beach, and so on.  Now once you build these resorts, walls go up and people are excluded from participating in these wonderful scenic experiences.”


“very little benefit to the economy of local towns”

“So aside from the loss of these most beautiful areas because these are the places these resorts are going to pick, there is going to be virtually no benefit or very little benefit to the economy of local towns.  Resort owners don’t want the dollar to accrue to the townships.  There might be a few people making beds and so on, but the resort workers will live at the resort, the transport to and from the resort will be strictly controlled.  There is very little benefit to the township.  Nobody’s trying to stop visitor accommodation or tourist investment, but location is the issue.  If a regulated planning approach says you can have these but you’ve got to have them in or near townships, then the town can benefit.”

The following information shows the timelines of events leading up to the Cambria Green proposal.

April – August 2015
In late April and then in May and August 2015, twelve titles in the Swansea area were purchased by overseas interests.


November 2015
The Tasmanian State Government published its “China Engagement Report”, which followed the visit to Tasmania in November 2014 by the Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The Report stated:
Tasmanian Irrigation engaged with a number of Chinese companies to explore agriculture investment opportunities in Tasmania, including attracting investment of $600,000 in the Swan Valley Irrigation Scheme from a Chinese company that has purchased a property for an agri-tourism and Chinese traditional medicine development on the East Coast.”
The Report continued:
Chinese investment in agri-tourism and water
In March 2015 Cambria Green Agriculture Development Pty Ltd, an Australian private company with strong business links to China, purchased the Cambria and Belmont properties in Swansea.
The properties contain thousands of hectares of cropping land, with some hills, and views of the mountains, forest and water of Great Oyster Bay and the Freycinet Peninsula.
The company has also purchased a 400ML water entitlement from Tasmanian Irrigation. This will ensure a reliable water supply for the properties and support future development.
The business development plan is currently being considered and is likely to include a focus on:

The company’s spokesperson said:
‘We have great confidence in the Swansea area as it’s a very central location on Tasmania’s east coast, right in between Hobart and Launceston.  We see it as the heart of the east coast, with great potential for our combined organic/tourism operation.’
The “China Engagement Report” continued:
The Tasmanian Government and the China Development Bank have entered into an agreement for future cooperation and planning including the potential to facilitate increased inbound investment into Tasmania.
China Development Bank
On 17 November 2014, the Premier of Tasmania signed an MOU on behalf of the Tasmanian Government that outlined the parameters for both parties to cooperate with regard to undertaking detailed planning of Tasmania’s key sectors and to identify the investment opportunities within agreed priority sectors.
In October 2015, the China Development Bank visited Tasmania with a delegation of experts in the areas of mining, tourism, agriculture and infrastructure. The purpose of this visit was to understand Tasmania’s capability in the key sectors, primarily tourism, agriculture and mining.
During 2016
Various consultants were contracted by Cambria Green Agriculture & Tourism Management Pty Ltd, to provide advice on proposed developments on the Cambria Green titles.
These studies included:

In 2017 the Australian government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese Government to increasing tourism cooperation through the Approved Destination Status scheme, which facilitates a greater number of Chinese tourists through guided groups.
18 March 2018
Cambria Green Agriculture and Tourism Management Pty Ltd submitted a proposal to the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council to amend their planning scheme by incorporation of the Cambria Special Area Plan (SAP).
The submission included a Masterplan for proposed future developments:
The proponent has provided the following statement by way of background to their vision for the project:

"Cambria Green Agriculture and Tourism Management Pty Ltd is the developer of the Cambria Green project.  The project contains approximately 3185 hectares on multiple titles located around 2-10 kms from Swansea on the central east coast of Tasmania.
The owners of the property wish to sensitively yet ambitiously develop an integrated, exciting, commercial and iconic development that will complement the beauty and uniqueness of the area, and add significantly to the commercial and general well-being of residents and businesses in the region.
A stunning blend of stylish and iconic elements: rural, historic, resort, commercial, agricultural and lifestyle – spread over 3185 hectares of unique landscape.
The Cambria development involves the establishment of a world class 5 star eco-tourism resort that preserves and protects the unique flora and fauna of the magnificent eastern Tasmanian coastal region. It is considered that the Cambria Project will establish the benchmark in luxury eco-tourism in Tasmania by virtue of its location, design and operation. The development is ‘built’ around three core themes and contains multiple elements, including:
Cambria historical precinct - restoring and maintaining the past for the future
Crystal Church - not only a stunning iconic landmark, but also an operational facility
Cambria Sky hotel – 100 - 120 room luxury accommodation, unique views, exquisite facilities, organic cuisine – the ‘Wow’ factor on the east coast
Cambria Sky Health – a unique get-away to recuperate and ‘restore’ one’s essence, with views that will inspire, revive and refresh
Cambria Sky Conference – the best conference environment in the country – stunning conference facilities, overwhelming view, wonderful environment to think, reflect, discuss and enhance
Cambria Organic Bistro - open to the public restaurant – organic food focus, spectacular views, memorable experience
Cambria tourist accommodation – 70 villas and 240 units set below the Cambria Sky hotel, yet with wonderful views
Golf Course – championship-standard 18-hole golf course
A Cambria-oriented training facility for local and regional future and existing employees – luxury hotel, conferences, food and beverages, golf, marine activities, hiking and nature activities
Cambria Village – uniquely set around a man-made lake, a range of facilities to serve guest of the Cambria tourist accommodation, hotel, health and conference centre, a mix of: Shops, Cafes, restaurants, Pharmacy, Convenience store, Medical & Dental, Personal services, Public Art Gallery, Gym, Children’s play area. It is the project’s intention to invite existing Swansea business operators to take up any relevant commercial opportunities before any external operators are sought.
Cambria sports tourism accommodation – set on the river, 80 apartments to cater for golf, water activity and other sporting visitors
Airstrip – improved airstrip to service fly-in guests, provide scenic flights, and to better service Swansea community
Organic commercial agricultural - activities
Artist precinct – creating, teaching, demonstrating, exhibiting
Exploring nature - experience the diversity of walks and bicycle trails: Coastal, Bush, Heritage, Air Walk, Bike Trail, Hikers Hut
Bay-based activities – passive and competitive events and activities
The Concept Masterplan has found that there is potential to facilitate the following development of the land.
• Cambria Homestead Precinct - 139 villas and units, and wedding and function facilities.
• Along the river - 161 villas and units
• Hills Resort Precinct - 80 unit health retreat (near sky resort)
• 20 accommodation units on golf range
• Resort – 150 rooms
• Golf course 18 hole plus 9 hole par 3"







27 March 2018
The Glamorgan Spring Bay Council (GSBC) published their Draft Local Provisions Schedule (LPS) for the new Tasmanian Planning Scheme.
GSBC is believed to be the first local council to publish their proposed LPS.
The GBSC’s LPS contain, among other matters, Special Area Plans for the following, but not for the Cambria development:

At the council meeting on 27 March the GSBC decided (5 votes to 3) to defer submission of the LPS to the Tasmanian Planning Commission.
24 April 2018
Glamorgan Spring Bay Council approved a motion (4 votes to 3) to approve the Cambria SAP for a 42-day public review.
Shortly after, a small group of community volunteers concerned about the potential impacts of the Cambria Green Specific Area Plan and the proposed development formed the East Coast Alliance.
14 June 2018
Deadline for public submissions on the Cambria SAP.  Over 400 submissions were submitted to GSBC opposed to the SAP and the proposed development.
The GSBC is now assessing the submissions to prepare a report to council before October 2018.  The report will be submitted to the Tasmanian Planning Commission as part of their review of the proposed Cambria SAP.
21 August 2018
A lunchtime meeting was held at the Hobart Town Hall “to highlight issues confronting the magnificent East Coast of Tasmania”.
The meeting was sponsored by:

  • improving soil quality
  • growing organic products such as fruit, vegetables, and other crops for both human consumption and/or grazing needs
  • refurbishing the heritage homestead to establish a wedding venue, subject to council approval
  • establishing tracks for tourist access to the unique and precious bush areas
  • the possibility of other potential tourism developments.
  • Aboriginal Heritage Assessment
  • Agronomic Suitability
  • Ecological Assessment
  • Coastal Vulnerability Assessment
  • Conservation Management
  • Architectural Plans
  • Golf Course Masterplan
  • Traffic Impact Assessment
  • Visual Impact Assessment
  • Spring Bay Marina
  • Bicheno Golf Club
  • Louisville Road
  • Resort Residential
  • Bay of Fires Coastal Preservation Lobby
  • Beaumaris Action Network
  • BirdLife Tasmania
  • Earth Ocean Network
  • East Coast Alliance
  • Freycinet Action Network
  • Friends of Four Mile Creek
  • Marine Protection Tasmania
  • North East Bioregional Network Inc
  • Planning Matters Alliance Tasmania
  • Seymour Community Action Group Inc
  • St Helens Point Progress Association
  • Tasmanian Conservation Trust
  • Tasmanian National Parks Association
  • Wilderness Society (Tasmania) Inc

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David O’Byrne, ALP, and Cassy O’Connor, The Greens, spoke at the meeting.

                                                                                                                                                21 August 2018