The Changing Character of an East Coast Settlement

Dangers ahead for Falmouth In recent years change has happened to Falmouth, a small settlement on the upper East Coast of Tasmania.
 
Once a sleepy holiday location with fewer permanent residents than houses and blessed with no through road, Falmouth is now experiencing changes similar to what is happening in many locations throughout Tasmania. 
 
Change is happening for a variety of reasons, including:

 
Some of the recent changes specific to Falmouth include:

 
However, the Falmouth community continues to resist some developments which would change its historic character, viz:

 
But pressures for change continue.
 
In September 2017 there was a proposal to develop a vacant block by building two dwellings.  One dwelling would presumably be for AirBnB rental and the other for owner occupation. 
 
The application proposed multiple dwellings on a single block which characterises the change that is happening at Falmouth.  The current planning scheme provides for multiple dwellings as a discretionary use, i.e. it is not a right.
 
The Low Density Residential Zone provisions of the BODC Interim Planning Scheme 2013 v14, specifies the purposes of the Zone as:

 
In Falmouth, without reticulated water, stormwater and sewerage systems, the minimum site area per dwelling must be 2,500 m2.  That is, for two dwellings the minimum block size must be 5,000 m2.  The above Development Application block has an area of approximately 2045 m2.
 
The application for two dwellings would succeed if the Council deems the following conditions apply:

 
Importantly, there is no absolute minimum site area per dwelling if the above conditions are met.  Approval of this development would add to further similar developments as it would be an addition to the pattern of non-complying development, i.e. setting precedent.
 
As two out of the above three conditions are based on judgement values it is important that community views are considered in the decision making.  Significantly there is no provision on the Interim Planning Scheme to protect waterfront views from excessive developments.  The maximum height of developments (8.0 m from natural surface) is the same whether the site is on a hill or on the waterfront.
 
In the proposed new statewide Tasmanian Planning Scheme due to come into effect in 2018, the provisions for multiple dwellings in a Low Density Residential Zone are similar to those in the current BODC Interim Scheme except for the following:

 
That is, the Development Application had a chance to be approved under the current planning scheme, but would have no chance of approval under the proposed new Tasmanian Planning Scheme.  It’s was a case of get approvals while you can!
 
After community submissions, the owners decided to withdraw their Application.  In November 2017 they made a new Application which is discussed here:

Dangers ahead for Falmouth

  • Tasmania is increasingly recognised both nationally and internationally as an attractive tourist and living location.
  • Land and property values are still lower than the more populous regions of Australia, although this is less so than decades ago.
  • The population is more mobile due to cheaper vehicles and cheaper air transport.
  • The State government is heavily promoting interstate and international tourism.
  • The digital age has provided widespread instant and easy access to information on Tasmania.
  • the last of the “grass” streets disappeared a few years ago, replaced by gravel roads and rocky gutters
  • a steady increase in building new dwellings and renovation or re-building of older dwellings
  • a number of sub-divisions have released additional suburban sized blocks
  • a rapid expansion of online access to holiday rentals (AirBnB offers more than a dozen houses in Falmouth for short-term rental)
  • community calls for bitumen sealing of some roads to alleviate dust from increased traffic
  • the community continues to resist any commercial developments such as a shop or cafe
  • there is strong resistance to concrete kerbing of any roads
  • there are virtually no formed footpaths, as people prefer to walk on the mostly gravel roads
  • the community strongly resisted a proposed future expansion of the township into adjacent farmland and the accompanying provision of reticulated water and sewerage systems, (Council Land Use & Development Strategy 2017)
  • to provide for residential use or development on larger lots in residential areas where there are infrastructure or environmental constraints that limit development
  • to provide for non-residential uses that are compatible with residential amenity
  • to ensure that development respects the natural and conservation values of the land and is designed to mitigate any visual impacts of development on public views
  • they are not out of character with the pattern of development existing on established properties in the area
  • they do not result in an unreasonable loss of natural or landscape values, and
  • they can be provided with adequate on-site wastewater disposal and water supply.
  • the maximum height limit is raised from 8.0 m to 8.5 m
  • the site area per dwelling must not be less than 2,000 m2