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Hold Up for Transformer at Ida Bay

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Media Release – Ida Bay Railway Preservation Society,1 October 2021 “Ensuring the future by respecting the past” Members of the Ida Bay Railway Preservation Society are receiving many enquiries as a result of the Development Application concerning the proposed “Transformer” artwork and associated Café/Visitor Centre to be located on the heritage-listed Ida Bay Railway workshop […]

Media Release – Ida Bay Railway Preservation Society,1 October 2021

“Ensuring the future by respecting the past”

Members of the Ida Bay Railway Preservation Society are receiving many enquiries as a result of the Development Application concerning the proposed “Transformer” artwork and associated Café/Visitor Centre to be located on the heritage-listed Ida Bay Railway workshop / village site.

The Society is focussed on the restoration and continued operation of the hundred-year-old Ida Bay Railway and its contribution to the local/regional economy as a destination in the Huon Valley / Far South.

As has always been the Society’s position, Ida Bay Railway Preservation Society is NOT opposed to the proposed Artwork of itself but does not understand why the supporting Café and Visitor Centre has to be imposed on the heritage-listed Ida Bay Railway workshop/village site. This will considerably obstruct the restoration and operation of the historic hundred-year-old Railway and compromise the heritage-listed site.

Huon Valley Council Councillors appear to agree with this position by overturning the Development Application on an apparent zoning technicality not being addressed by the proponent or Council’s planning department. This allowed them to reflect the community’s concerns about the consequences for the much loved Railway.

The Ida Bay Railway Preservation Society does not want to see public money wasted in appeals or legal processes and a community divided over the matter. It wants to see the proposed design more thoughtfully amended so that the Artwork project gets going, the Railway is restored to service and the heritage site respected.

The Ida Bay Railway Preservation Society is working hard to promote discussion between DarkLabs, Huon Valley Council, the Tasmanian Parks Service and itself to find a workable solution that gets the Transformer project underway but does not unnecessarily compromise the hundred year old Ida Bay Railway.

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Background information:

The Ida Bay Railway Preservation Society is focussed on the restoration and continued operation of the hundred-year-old Ida Bay Railway and its contribution to the local/regional economy as a destination in the Huon Valley / Far South.

The society is a not-for-profit community-based volunteer organisation that will return revenue back into the operation and maintenance of the Railway. The group has the backing, resources and knowledge to get this happening but needs permission from the Tasmanian Government to get going.

The heritage-listed Railway is the property of the Tasmanian people and is managed by the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service.


Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Member for Franklin, 30 September 2021

Ida Bay Railway Win

Huon Valley Council’s decision to require Dark Lab’s Transformer project, south of Dover, to reposition the café and protect the unarguable heritage values of the Ida Bay Railway, is a win for the community and the future of southern Tasmanian tourism.

Huon Valley Council voted against the Dark Lab development application in its current form, triggering a pathway for Dark Lab to renegotiate an alternative site during a Resource Management and Planning Appeals Tribunal process.

Councillor Gibson moved an alternative motion to protect the railway and require Dark Lab to mediate an alternative position for the café, supported by councillors Campbell, Prince, O’May and Clarke. Mayor Enders, Deputy Mayor Doyle, and councillors Newell and Bird voted against that alternative motion.

The Ida Bay Railway Preservation Society has worked hard for years to create a functioning future viability model. Dark Lab’s proposed cafe site would have destroyed the operational use of the railway and sheds, and ended the prospect of this genuinely unique and much-loved historic railway continuing to delight tourists of all ages.

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As Dark Lab has publicly stated its genuine commitment to working for the mutual benefit of both parties, the HVC made the right decision in finding a planning work-around that can allow a respectful development solution that suits both parties.

The Far South tourism operators are looking forward with anticipation at the forthcoming Transformer Project. Fortunately, now the Far South won’t need to lose another key pillar tourism attraction – the Ida Bay Railway – to do so.


Media release – Dean Winter MP, Shadow Minister for Economic Development, 1 October 2021

Huon Valley recovery plan in tatters

Almost three years after the devastating Huon Valley bushfires, the region’s economic recovery plan is in tatters.

Shadow Minister for Economic Development Dean Winter said despite the Liberals spruiking the Transformer project at Ida Bay, it turns out Huon Valley Council was not on board.

“Transformer was a response to the need for economic and tourism stimulation within the Huon Valley following the effects of the 2019 bushfires,” Mr Winter said.

“Now the entire project is at risk.

“The Huon Valley Planning Authority’s decision adds – at best – an unnecessary delay to a project which is the cornerstone of the area’s economic recovery plan.

“This is bushfire recovery money, left unspent, three years after the fires. What sort of commitment does that show to the Huon Valley?

“This is a disappointing blow to the tourism industry at a time when operators and staff are suffering the on-going effects of COVID and we need to be doing everything possible to help.

“The usual hands-off approach from the government cannot continue. This project is a huge opportunity for the Huon Valley and the government must back in the development and ensure it goes ahead.”

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Media release – Destination Southern Tasmania, 1 October 2021

DARK LAB – HUON VALLEY COUNCIL DECISION

Destination Southern Tasmania today stated its extreme disappointment with the Huon Valley Council’s rejection of the $9.5 million Dark Lab Transformer Development Application.

Destination Southern Tasmania CEO Alex Heroys said the Dark Lab project arose from the 2019 bushfire recovery.

“Dark Lab’s Transformer was designed to increase visitation to the Huon Valley as well as create another attraction to spread the risk when dealing with attraction closures during disasters,” Mr Heroys.

“This project was strongly supported by local tourism and hospitality operators and they have been looking forward to the expected visitation of 30,000 people annually.”

“Transformer will boost the overall economics of the Huon Valley and especially the Far South region, support many businesses, create employment and help the visitor economy recover from the effects of Covid.

“Art tourism is something that resonates strongly in the Huon Valley community, with many artists choosing this area to create and showcase their work and Transformer, with world renowned artist Doug Aitken, will elevate this focus to a global stage.”

Mr Heroys said Destination Southern Tasmania strongly encourages Dark Lab to consider an appeal against the Council decision.

“We do not want to lose this once in a generation opportunity for the entire Huon Valley region.” Mr Heroys said Dark Lab is committed to maintaining the heritage values of the historical Ida Bay railway site, in collaboration with the Ida Bay Railway Preservation Society. Mr Heroys said.

“The most important point here is to recognise the opportunity that will benefit the community most and embrace it, rather than looking for ways to derail it.”

Source: Tasmanian Times https://tasmaniantimes.com/2021/10/hold-up-for-transformer-at-ida-bay/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=hold-up-for-transformer-at-ida-bay

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