‘We will be at 30,000 people in one to 15 years’ – Brighton gets the big idea

WHEN Leigh Gray looks at Brighton, he sees a big picture.

It’s been a year since he took the mayoral reins at Brighton Council.

And this community, whose population is expected to increase by 50 per cent over the next decade or so, is now a big picture – and big business.

The price of the Bridgewater Bridge is more than three-quarters of a billion dollars. In dollar terms, that makes it Tasmania’s largest transport infrastructure project.

But it’s about more than bragging rights: the bridge will open Brighton’s western edge to the metro centres of Glenorchy and Hobart, and to the north, the communities of New Norfolk and Central Highlands.

And that, in Leigh Gray’s mind, is the key to his municipality’s future.

“Seventy-five per cent of our residents work outside our municipality, and 80 per cent of those are in single vehicles. Simply, they are going to Glenorchy and Hobart for their jobs,’’ he said.
“Transport is the key to shaping the future Brighton, and thus, our community is the logical extension of the Northern Suburbs Transit Corridor. We need to be part of that.”

With Brighton’s long river frontage, he sees opportunity in a revitalisation of Derwent ferry services.

“We’ve got support from Incat, from Mona too,” Mr Gray said.
“We will be at 30,000 people in one to 15 years,” he said.
“Those are the mid-range estimates. So we need to be planning right now.”

In the next few weeks, the Jordan River Learning Foundation School Farm – upgraded at a cost of $4.8 million – will be open for business.

The $55 million Brighton High school is expecting students in first term, 2025.

An international customs broker based at Hobart Airport, it’s not surprising that Mr Gray’s first instinct is to think in terms of transport. Or that he sees the council as a business.

“Revenues come in, expenses go out,” he said. “It’s like any other business.”

He considers forward planning as standard procedure. He also tips his hat to the past, paying tribute to Tony Foster, his predecessor and the new bridge’s chief lobbyist.

“Ours is not the work of one person, but Council as a whole, and that includes those who came before us,” he said. “While I always put my point of view, Council’s decisions are a consensus.” “And we’ve got a stable group of elected members, including some new blood,” he notes.
“They are all passionate about their council, about being closest to the people they represent.”

He says James Dryburgh, Brighton’s general manger is “youthful, enthusiastic, runs a good council”. “I’d say absolutely brilliant … other councils are jealous.”

Items next on his – and Council’s – list are a rebranding of the Brighton Hub over the next few years.

“We’re going to make it less industrial, more attractive … add streetscaping, cafes and public open space.”

The Mayor grew up in Bridgewater and now lives in Brighton today with his wife Pru and three of his four kids still at home.

It’s certainly the next generations of local residents he’s thinking about when he references Brighton’s 2050 Vision, completed last year after extensive community consultations.

“We already have a commercial hub, civic centre and library, Centrelink and related services,” he said.
“We’re keen on parks and walking trails, places for people to come together.

This community is strong and loyal, and they don’t mind telling us what they want, what assets we need, what parks and sporting facilities.”.