November 4, 2020

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Jamie Green
Derwent Valley

The rural town of New Norfolk is about 30 minutes from Hobart.(Facebook: Michelle Dracoulis)

 The developers behind a $500 million residential and community precinct in Tasmania’s Derwent Valley have put their first plans to council and expect to have all applications lodged by the end of the year. 

Queensland-based Noble Ventures has plans for 700 residential lots, 200 independent-living retirement homes, a 100-bed private hospital, a 100-room hotel, a childcare centre and a marketplace in New Norfolk.

Construction has already begun on the residential lots, which already had a permit under previous owners.

The land for the central precinct is about 550 metres from the town centre, on the former Royal Derwent Hospital site.

The childcare centre plans have been released for public consultation, and the plans for the retirement village have been lodged with council.

Brothers Roger and Daniel Noble said they hoped to have the remaining applications for the hotel, hospital and marketplace with council by the end of the year.

Daniel Noble said the company was attracted to New Norfolk because it had more to offer than the outer suburbs of Hobart.

The Mills is close to the town centre

The site for proposed development The Mills is close to the town centre.(Supplied: Kenton Cox)

“There’s a township, a community and really great lifestyle but it needed to be rejuvenated,” he said.

“And when we saw that, we thought, ‘This is what we want to invest the next 15 years into.'”

Roger Noble said the project development and post-construction was expected to create 1,100 jobs per year between 2021 and 2040, more than half of which would be in the Derwent Valley.

The Queensland-based Nobles were able to travel to Tasmania with an essential-worker exemption for site and sales meetings this week, but had to postpone scheduled meetings with Planning Minister Roger Jaensch and State Growth Minister Michael Ferguson.

 Daniel and Roger Noble

Brothers Daniel and Roger Noble say the area has more potential than the outer suburbs of Hobart.

Biggest subdivision in decades: Mayor

Mayor Ben Shaw said there was an air of confidence around the Derwent Valley.

He said the last significant subdivisions of similar scope would have been the houses for employees of the Boyer paper mill in the 1950s and 60s, and then the Fairview housing department subdivision in the 80s.

“It’s been the undiscovered area for so many years, and we’ve all known that it’s a great place to live and invest and been trying to encourage people recently to invest here, so I guess to see it [happen], it’s about time.”

There is currently a council-run childcare centre on the site.

Cr Shaw said there had not been any discussions about the proposed private childcare centre replacing the council one.”Certainly, it could be on the cards. Councils don’t really run childcare centres anymore, we’re probably one of the last ones in Tasmania,” he said.

Cr Shaw said there was a lack of health services in the Derwent Valley, which has a population of about 10,000.

“For them to propose some private health is really exciting, because we are underdone as a growing region, and we’ll really need that in the future.”

Not-for-profit plans to improve Derwent Valley’s health outcomes

The plans for a hospital

The plans for a hospital on the site are expected to be lodged by the end of the year.(Supplied: Kenton Cox Architect)

Another project nearby is hoping to address service gaps with a health hub for the area.

Corumbene Care’s plans to redevelop two former hospital wards at the former Willow Court site have been approved by the Council.

Corumbene, which has operated an aged care home at New Norfolk for more than 50 years, spent two years trying to acquire the heritage-listed buildings, which are adjacent to the town’s Woolworth’s supermarket.

Chief executive Damien Jacobs said the not-for-profit was now looking for possible partnerships, grants, stimulus packages or private investment to get the project off the ground.

“So the idea would be to relocate our community program and team, along with telehealth, community service programs, allied health and then partner with other service providers including a GP practice and other supporting services to create a health hub,” Mr Jacobs said.

“Our primary aim is to help improve the health outcomes for our community.”

Mr Jacobs said Corumbene also had plans for purpose-built housing on another part of the site, and potential social housing opportunities for people over 65.

The planned redevelopment follows the opening of a rum distillery on the Willow Court site this year, and the success of the Agrarian Kitchen eatery in the same area.

The proponents behind the distillery have also released plans for a 22-room boutique hotel at the historic site.

By Ellen Coulter