Devonport Living City
In March 2013, Devonport City Council unveiled LIVING CITY – Changing the heart, reviving the region and released for public comment a Principles Plan. The Master Plan, which is the culmination of overwhelming community support for the Principle Plan and more than 1000 community comments, was approved by Council in September 2014. It provides a high-level view of the three precincts – Business and Services, Retail and Waterfront – which are centred on highlighting the North West’s tourism, arts, food and services.
Devonport Living City – Urban Rejuvenation Project
The Devonport Living City project is a 10 year urban rejuvenation project that will invigorate the Devonport CBD providing opportunity for the Hospitality, Retail and Tourism sectors. This project will be developed over three stages and will leverage over $270m from private and government investment to create a new CBD for retail stores, a new entertainment and hospitality precinct and food market showcasing local produce.
This project has been developed during a 3 ½ year period from feasibility to business plan development through to implementation. RDA Tasmania was approached by the Devonport City Council at inception for advice to help shape the project for development including:
- Strategic long term planning
- Stakeholder engagement including industry, government and community
- Business Planning
- Community Consultation
A number of key properties in the Devonport CBD had to be acquired by Devonport Council as part of the initial process so as to ensure that the redevelopment of the CBD could occur. The commercial sensitivities surrounding these acquisitions cannot be overstated as council was keen to maintain the economic viability of the project by acquiring key properties for market value.
RDA Tasmania was trusted to maintain this confidence and also assist in the engagement of the Tasmanian Government and key industry partners in the project in anticipation of this project being promoted to the community.
Additionally the RDA Tasmanian committee attended a meeting with the Devonport City Council in 2012 to meet with key partners and stakeholders and to scrutinise the feasibility of the project proposal. This meeting allowed the opportunity to provide advice on the development opportunities of the project and to consider how to promote the project for potential funding through government or the private sector.
RDA Tasmania - Regional Plan
During the development of the Living City Project, regular updated versions of the RDA Tasmania Regional Plan were prepared. The following priorities from these regional plans were considered by Devonport City Council:
- Increase collaboration and efficiencies between federal, state and local government
- Support investment in enabling infrastructure that improves economic productivity
- Improve literacy, numeracy and education levels within the Tasmanian community
- Facilitate place-based solutions for local communities
- Expand and grow economic activity in Tasmania
Devonport City Council regularly met with RDA Tasmania to ensure that the Living City project aligned with the regional plan so that the project remained relevant with Australian Government priorities.
Regional Focus for the Living City Project
The Living City Project was envisaged as a regional project from the outset on the basis that neighbouring municipalities in the North West Tasmanian region would also benefit from the project. Some of these benefits included:
- Increased employment in industry sectors including, Tourism and Retail
- Skill development and increased job participation for local workers
- Improved liveability for local residents and visitors
- Long term investment in infrastructure in turn providing opportunities for small business
Councils within the North West region provided letters of support to the Living City project on the basis that this project could demonstrate regional benefit and long term measurable outcomes for the economy and regional communities.
Additionally the Tasmanian Government provided its support, through the donation of land integral to the Living City project, to the Devonport City Council. The Tasmanian Government has also pledged to provide resource and planning support to the project to help the various stages to completion.
Effectiveness of Advice provided by RDA Tasmania
RDA Tasmania provided regular feedback and support to the Devonport City Council during the development of the Living City project.
An RDA Tasmania representative was invited to act on the steering committee of the project proposal for government funding (NSRF) and the RDA Tasmania committee attended a Devonport City Council information session to provide constructive feedback on the project proposal.
Regular planning meetings with consultants and council helped mould and shape the project proposal to an acceptable standard for investors and government to confidently be able to provide financial support.
RDA Tasmania was also asked to assist with engagement of key stakeholder groups (government, industry and community groups) in the project including community consultation sessions with external consultants.
The RDA Tasmania committee meeting in 2013 was pivotal in exploring the Living City project whilst discussing the various aspects of the project with community leaders, industry representatives and government.
This opportunity was invaluable in helping to guide the Devonport City Council in a direction that would provide them with the best opportunity to develop a robust business case for the project.
Additionally RDA Tasmania helped prepare the funding application for the Living City project on two separate occasions under the RDAF and NSRF programs (for support funding for stage one of the project).
Preparing the business case was the biggest challenge for the Living City Project. As a member of the Living City steering committee, RDA Tasmania’s input and advice was crucial in developing a robust business case that could be supported by government, industry and community.
The various tasks RDA Tasmania helped undertake included:
- Preparing a draft business plan for internal use and key stakeholder input
- Working with external consultants to prepare an economic analysis of the project
- Undertaking public workshops with stakeholders to communicate key elements of the project, gathering support and feedback
- Assisting in regular steering committee meetings to refine the business plan in line with analysis and feedback
- Writing the funding applications for the project through the RDAF and NSRF programs
- Updating the external consultancy with available economic data and regional understandings
The Devonport City Council recognised the input and support of RDA Tasmania (by letter) when the Living City Project received $10m of Australian Government funding under round 1 of the NSRF program announced in early 2015.
This funding helped secure stage one of the project and in turn leveraged additional funding from the Tasmanian Government (for the relocation of the court house and library) and from the private sector for stage two development of the retail hub.