THE re-establishment of the Derwent Valley Heritage Railway from New Norfolk to Mt Field is one step closer after the Derwent Valley Council agreed last week to lobby State and Federal Governments and philanthropists, to fund the $20 million project.

Last week, the council unanimously supported its advocacy document which outlines its urgent infrastructure advocacy priorities. Council hopes funding could be obtained from various sources, many of which are available to address the impact of the Covid pandemic. “The Derwent Valley is changing rapidly with significant growth and development placing pressure on infrastructure and services, with growing community expectations,’’ the document states.

“This document describes the work council has identified and needs to complete to meet the changing needs of our community and deliver better services for current and future residents of the Derwent Valley. “These initiatives, plans and projects will better enable the community to transform from a regional municipality to one that is on the urban fringe with all the associated service levels and infrastructure required to meet its growing needs.’’

The heritage rail was the biggest ticket item in the document, with other advocacy priorities under the heading of planning for the future including:
• $100,000 for Civic Precinct Feasibility. The Circle at the top end of High Street New Norfolk could be re-imagined into a thriving community epicentre, incorporating a range of commercial and community activations.
• $50,000 for the Esplanade Refresh Master Plan. Within New Norfolk, the Esplanade is an important public recreational precinct, providing the main access to the river frontage along the Derwent River.

The Esplanade is a hub for activities and events including the rowing club, walking, playground, picnic, sightseeing, angling, dog exercise and training.
• $100,000 for Kensington Park. The Derwent Valley, and New Norfolk in particular has many sporting facilities at various stages of their lifecycle. In order to think ahead and plan for the future needs of the municipality council intends to explore the feasibility of a high-quality, multisport facility.
• $100,000 for Park ‘N’ Ride. As part of this study, a public transport solution could be considered to ease concession and improve health.
• $200,000 Structure Plan Review.

Following the completion of the regional residential supply/demand analysis for the outer Hobart councils, the DVC needs to review its New Norfolk Structure Plan 2016 to position its structure to cope with future growth scenarios and consequential impacts and demands upon other functions and services.
• $30,000 for Car Parking Future Needs. An audit of car parking availability and needs for the future.
• $230,000 for a Heritage and Community Hub.

Council has a critical need for spaces for community groups to meet. Mayor Michelle Dracoulis said the document was important for the council to provide consistent messaging for the purposes of advocacy. “The document highlights the economic and public benefits of the projects listed, including the very popular calls for getting the Derwent Valley Rail back on the line,’’ Mrs Dracoulis said.

“There are current funding opportunities becoming available to address the impacts of the Covid pandemic, and we anticipate there may be other funding available leading into both State and Federal election cycles. “In order to access this funding, council must have a clearly articulated list of priority projects that show broad community benefit and this document sets us up well to be able to do that.

Last week’s front page story in the Gazette about the call for $20 million funding for the heritage rail was overwhelmingly supported by our readers on Facebook. Some of the comments included. “Just vote yes, would be awesome for this to get up, with all levels of government support,’’ Grant Laing said. “Lets hope they support it. Would be amazing for the town,” Kimmy Hack said. “This should be a priority and would open up so many other opportunities for tourists and locals alike. Let’s be a ‘can do’ municipality,’’ Adrian Fogarty said. “It would be so beneficial for our town,’’ Lynette Graham said.