The Karama Flats Community Episode
The problem here has occurred because long vacant lots, now approved for by the DCA for development, have till now laid empty opposite the Karama Shopping Centre.
The owner is now to build on them with a series of multi-storey (four and five storeys) flats in blocks, along Kalymnos Drive to Manunda. These blocks of flats will overlook the existing residents immediately behind them. The placement of these lots is consistent with the NT Governments present densification initiative. However, it must be stressed that the lots are zoned MR Medium Density allowing residential development up to four storeys.
There are conflicting clauses in the NTPS about this type of situation.
Some [clauses 7.1(4), and less - 7.4, and 8.3] ameliorate the impact of 'interface' between actual zones (where a development application consistent with a zone would impact on development in a different adjacent zone). This cannot be applied because the existing homes are ironically not in an SD zone.
The other [clause 5.3.3] states, 'The scale, character, and architectural style of infill development should be compatible with the streetscapes and surrounding development'.
Karama Residents Group appealed to the Lands and Mining Tribunal against the DCA's decision to approve the flats, except that, because of interface requirements, the block on the Manunda corner was restricted to three storeys. This lengthy process is just concluded. Magistrate Lowndes found against the residents. He declared that the character of the area was determined not by their one and two storey homes, with established gardens, but by the commercial centre, across Kalymnos Drive. (This is shopping centre is not multi storey and is not surrounded by gardens.) The transcript of decision is very derisive of the capacity of our communities to make accurate assessments in appeals against 'expert' planning decisions.
Thanks to the Karama residents for carrying the issue this far. Unfortunately community is almost always at a disadvantage in appealing against developers, because of financial considerations, eg. being unable to appeal a Tribunal decision to the Supreme Court. Commiserations to those whose privacy and amenity will be destroyed by the new development overlooking them.
As at 18.8.2012 there was no sign of any development on this site. Even the piles of construction earth having been taken away, to leave a clear vacant site. We are unsure why this is so, but it may be due to the NT Election being scheduled for 25.8.2012. We do hope it is a more permanent decision to restrict heights to two storeys to match the surrounding established area.
When we have the news about portfolios we will be asking for those, and MLA contacts to be updated.
Late in 2012, the proponents of the extensive Karama Unit s block development submitted new plans for the site at the corner of Kalimnos and Manunda. This was in the later part of the year, when the building site was standing clear of any evidence of construction.
The original plans, contested by local residents who would have been affected complied with the NT Government's lestablished land use zoning.
However, the proposed units, as designed, would have overlooked a large area of long established and pleasant one and two storey residences. This situation resulted objections from existing Karama residents. These appeals failed.
However, PLan is pleased to see that the new plans, though still for three and four storeys are less oriented to overlook the existing homes. these new plans have recently been approved by the Development Consent Authority(DCA).
This experience of this large residential densification, near commercial facilities and transport services in the northern suburbs, should provide valuable lessons for the Northern Territory Government, prospective developers and local residents in similar situations.