The identity of a city tends to form over a long time period. A city is shaped by its geographical characteristics, cultural elements, architectural character, tradition, customs and lifestyle. For that reason, these elements that define a great city should be considered together, as a whole.

Such is the challenge now facing Launceston. A beautiful city maintaining a rich cultural and architectural heritage, while also confidently re-imagining itself as a 21st Century city – a great regional city, a city of education, a city of entrepreneurism, a city of start-ups; and a vibrant city doing surprisingly well in a post-pandemic context. If new developments are to succeed, they need to confidently contemplate all those objectives and build them into the fabric of the building. We’ll be bursting into print on those topics in the lead-up to the May 1st election, but we draw to your attention a development that reeks of confidence and must surely be applauded. We all wish for city vibrancy? Here’s a city heart-starter…

The Tatler Arcade re-development in St John Street creates a dining precinct in the retail heart of the city. Featuring a collection of eateries – cafe’s, restaurants, wine bars, retail and office spaces; the mock-up images we’ve seen, and indeed the site tour our Board undertook is reminiscent of Melbourne’s laneway culture. It’s something new in the heart of Launceston, and it embodies Launceston’s confident entrepreneurial spirit.

But what of the buses at it’s doorstep? Relaxed, unhurried outdoor dining is at odds with buses noisily belching diesel smoke all day as they drop-off & pick up. They should’ve been relocated by now but Council’s plans for the Paterson Street Bus interchange have been stymied by others. For now,  the problem needs a re-think and an interim solution for getting the buses out of St John Street …now! The success of the Tatler Arcade project needs it. Indeed, the City of Launceston’s Draft Transport Strategy needs it too… That envisions a city more connected and suited to active transport, one of tree-lined streets with pedestrians and cycleways. We’re thrilled by this – people cant spend in the retail heart while they’re sitting on their wallets in cars…. But again it’s at odds with the Buses.

There’s too much at stake to let problem sit unattended. To maintain the confidence of developers risking private capital on projects that benefit the city as a whole, there needs to be an interim solution until Paterson street gets underway. Let me hear your ideas – we’ll make sure they get heard by others.

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