Tuesday 23 August 2016

Hansard of the Legislative Council
Legana - Planning for the Future



Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, I am privileged to have the fastest growing Tasmanian region in my electorate in Legana.  It is sited level with the Tamar River 12 kilometres north of Launceston, where saltwater gives way to fresh water, hence the name Legana, the Aboriginal word for fresh water.  It is there flocculation occurs between the silt‑laden fresh water and the sea water.

Legana has grown out of a small rural town in an area of dairy farms, apple orchards and grazing properties.  Now it is a vibrant town with supermarkets, a pub - most facilities a town needs.  Among other things, it does not have a school.  Residents say Legana also needs a police station and community support facilities such as meeting rooms, a neighbourhood house and so on.  We are pretty lucky to have the Legana Early Learning Centre in our area at this early stage of the development.  They do a fabulous job with great facilities provided for the community. 

In 1996 Legana had a population of only 1900.  It is not all that long ago, only 20 years ago.  Now it has about 3000 residents and it is going to swell to more than 13 000.  The West Tamar Council recognises that such a fast-growing region needs very careful planning so that the infrastructure and facilities a community like this needs are there and keeping up with growth.  The council has created a Legana Structure Plan and Legana Town Centre Structure Plan.  These plans establish the West Tamar Council's strategic direction for development of the Legana area over the coming decades, which includes accommodating an additional 10 000 people in an urban area.

The structure plans were developed to identify and address long-term growth issues within the area.  You can understand that they build on those strategic studies, which include the Regional Land Use Strategy of Northern Tasmania , the Greater Launceston Plan and also the Northern Tasmanian Housing Study

A planning milestone was reached last week when a project to make the existing commercial precinct into an actual town centre was released for comment by the community.  That project includes a town park identified in the Town Centre Structure Plan.
The plans for Legana received an award for the best planning ideas for small projects in the 2015 Planning Institute of Australia Tasmania Division Awards for Planning Excellence .

The two plans have been considered by the Legana Community Group , which continues to make constructive suggestions.  The community group's vision is to support a dynamic, safe and friendly community for all in Legana.  The group sponsors local events like Clean Up Australia Day and community fun days and also trivia nights to build community spirits.  It has the most fantastic host you can possibly imagine to conduct it, but I will leave that to your imagination.

The group has just completed a survey in the community which shows that Legana residents love the semi-rural feel and beautiful environment of Legana and the friendly community but feel the local infrastructure is lagging behind the keen development of Legana - they are on song with the West Tamar Council. 

The most concerning deficiency seems to be the lack of a school or even a government initiative to plan for one.  Being a largely younger population, more than 30 per cent of residents are of school age.  If the present trends continue, by the time the total population reaches 15 000, we can expect 4500 school-age children in the Legana area.  That is an awful lot of classrooms.

At this stage, Legana school-age children have to head north to Exeter or towards Launceston and Riverside.  The problem is that both Riverside High and Riverside Primary schools are at capacity and Exeter High School is nearing capacity with the strong growth throughout the northern part of my electorate.

A West Tamar Councillor , Tim Woinarski, has argued since 2012 that planning for a school in Legana needs to start now.

Ms Rattray - It needs a committee inquiry.

Mr FINCH - Thank you very much; that is sowing a very positive seed.

Do it now though, rather than wait until there is no space available at either Exeter or Riverside and we are in trouble to accommodate the kids.

Mr President, fast growth needs fast planning.  The West Tamar Council has shown it is up for the challenge of Legana's growth, but parents in the region will be much happier if the state Government was more strongly committed to a new school.