Bold bid to reshape Hobart waterfront
Antarctic bodies back proposed science precinct Design process believed to be well advanced
PLANS for a super science precinct at Macquarie Point and a radical floating hotel nearby in the River Derwent are the latest concepts being considered as part of Hobart’s development boom.
An Antarctic science and education hub incorporating key bodies such as the Australian Antarctic Division is a key part of the new vision for Macquarie Point.
Tasmanian Polar Network chair Richard Fader, left, says the peak body backs a combination of science, education and commercial operations near Tas-Ports’ proposed Antarctic berths. A development application for the 270-room hotel off the Regatta Grounds will be lodged with the Hobart City Council next month.
ANTARCTIC organisations and businesses are backing a proposed science precinct at Macquarie Point, with several indicating they would be open to moving to the site.
An Antarctic science and education precinct remained a key element of the Mona-driven new vision for Macquarie Point released last year.
Macquarie Point Development Corporation CEO Mary Massina has made the hub a priority for the first five years of the 30-year plan for the former railyard.
Former State Growth Minister Matthew Groom indicated a $40 million proposal could be part of a City Deal for Hobart with the Federal Government.
But a precinct formalising Hobart’s status as the scientific gateway to the frozen continent would need to attract major players from the $180 million per year Antarctic sector.
The MPDC and Department of State Growth have met with key groups including the Australian Antarctic Division, CSIRO, Bureau of Meteorology, University of Tasmania, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resource (CCAMLR) and the Tasmanian Polar Network.
Most are backing the proposal as they deal with ageing buildings and pressure to make way for tourism development on prime waterfront sites.
Peak body the Tasmanian Polar Network is backing a combination of science, education and commercial operations near TasPorts’ proposed Antarctic berths, which will service new icebreaker the Nuyina from 2020.
“We’ve got a number of members who would look at relocating their businesses, if it works out right, to be in the hub of the science precinct,” TPN chair Richard Fader told the Sunday Tasmanian.
“There would be nothing like it in any other gateway city in the world.
“Tassie’s got such a great science and educational background in the Antarctic, but to bring it all together in one spot with those commercial operators as well would be something that is unlike anything elsewhere.”
A likely early tenant would be CCAMLR, which has hosted 25 international members in the old Hutchins building since 2003.
“As much as we love this Hutchins building, we’re running out of space here,” executive secretary Andrew Wright said.
“Part of our discussions have been the need to be able to service CCAMLR’s annual meeting requirements.
“That’s been factored into planning.”
Mr Wright said CCAMLR, which is jointly funded by the state and federal governments, would welcome the opportunity to progress the concept.
“I haven’t heard anyone who has had a negative word to say about it,” he said.
“What people are worried about is the possibility that the space will prove insufficient
within a 10-15-year time frame and it will be outgrown.
“Being able to accommodate future growth is something that needs to be factored in.”
The Sunday Tasmanian understands a design for the precinct is well advanced after award-winning architect Robert Morris-Nunn submitted plans as part of the MPDC’s first expression on interest process last year. They would complement an Antarcticthemed eco-tourism experience proposed by UK environmental charity Eden Project International, which is expected to present a business case in coming months.
UTAS’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies is housed in near-new premises on Castray Esplanade but the AAD and CSIRO are in ageing facilities.
The AAD’s Kingston base opened in 1980 and presents a logistic challenge because of its distance from the icebreaker berth. “The division is supportive of an Antarctic precinct,” a spokeswoman said.
“There are a number of factors that we’d need to consider for the division prior to relo- cating any of its facilities to Macquarie Point.
“(Current) infrastructure continues to meet the needs of the division.”
The CSIRO’s Battery Point home opened in 1985 and is being eyed by tourism developers keen for another waterfront hotel.
“CSIRO has had preliminary discussion with both fed- eral and state governments and CSIRO will remain engaged as the proposal develops,” a spokesman said.
A BOM spokeswoman said the bureau welcomed initiatives to support Australia’s Antarctic work.
MPDC chief Ms Massina said talks so far had been positive. “The corporation will work hard with stakeholders as well as with the state and federal governments to bring the precinct to fruition,” she said.
A federal parliamentary committee examining Antarctic funding toured the Macquarie Point site last month.
The state and federal governments say work on a City Deal, which would be needed to fund the precinct, is progressing.
REVEALED: An artist’s impression of the floating hotel on the River Derwent.
UNIQUE: Tasmanian Polar Network chairman Richard Fader, pictured at Macquarie Wharf, said there would be nothing else like it in any other Antarctic gateway city.