Landbridge Hotel Subdivision 2017

Landbridge Darwin Luxury HotelA representation of the Landbridge Darwin Luxury Hotel on a brochure given to us at an ELTON consultation. It was clearly stated that it was early days, with a long way to go before finalisation. It was actually said that the hotel may not even look like this. Note the proposed use of the public foreshore which is not permitted by the existing Waterfront Area Plan. We, and others expected a series of commercial public consultations. Note the wording: "Community Newsletter 1" on the front of the brochure.

PLan has asked the NT Government, through the Development Consent Authority (DCA)  to carefully delay,  rather than making a hasty decision on the rezoning of land in the Waterfront Precinct, for the proposed Landbridge Darwin Luxury Hotel. The DCA hearing  went ahead on  Friday, 9 June, 2017.  

Strong indications are that  few  members of the public had any idea where exactly it was intended to build the hotel it in the Waterfront area, except that it would not clash with  the Deckchair Cinema.

PLan was included in a brief CONCEPT ONLY discussion  session with commercial consultants ELTON, a few weeks ago.  

We were informed that it was early days. The mock-up of a building, which looks like a bastion, with aerial  bridge type public access,  as shown on a single-sided A4 sheet, the consultant said, might not even be like that. It would be some time before more details were available. We certainly had the impression that that we would be involved in more such details before any applications were made. Other stakeholders share that  impression.   

The subdivision application which was to be considered on Friday, however, includes hundreds of pages. There is a recommendation by staff of the Department of the Infrastructure, Planning, and Logistics for approval  by the Development Consent Authority(DCA).  Very few people knew to make submissions.

The NT News on the morning of Friday,  9 June, 2017 (page 7) contained the following quote:

LUXURY HOTEL CREEPS CLOSER

The Development Consent Authority will today pass an application to subdivide waterfront land to pave the way for Landbridge's luxury hotel project. Darwin Council raised concerns around restricted public access along the foreshore. However the DCA is expected to approve the application to subdivide regardless Plans show the hotel  will have private foreshore access. The DCA meeting will be held today at the Novotel on the Esplanade.

Though we are not surprised about this anticipation before the event, we would like  decisions to be less predictable in an 'independent' body making complex decisions.

NOTE THAT: The Planning Act makes on provision for public appeals against subdivision applications, even though, like this one, they can be very important.

There are three major issues here which must be taken into account:

  1. The Area Plan  for waterfront land uses is  established by  the 'Darwin City Waterfront Planning Principles  and Area PLan'. This is an essential part of the NT Planning Scheme (Part 8 - Clause 14.1.1).  This includes a map showing a wide public foreshore. THIS FORESHORE IS PUBLIC LAND, AND SO IS SHOWN AS NOT AVAILABLE FOR BUILT DEVELOPMENT. The proposed hotel  in this new application, is to include  this foreshore land for its development. Historically, public use of the port area,  including the foreshores, has been a major issue through the life of the waterfront. Foreshores are used world wide for public recreation. A subdivision process, or a change in land ownership  does not nullify the well established Area PLan, based on this principle.
  2. The proposed subdivision for the hotel  takes in this public foreshore,  as if by routine. The reason given for this is that the actual site of the hotel is in the Darwin surge zone. The subdivision application by the hotel a major  change to the Area Plan to incorporate seven  metre protective wall. This would take  in all the foreshore at front, and some of the sea. This  would deny the public of its foreshore rights. A different engineering arrangement is needed for the surge protection.  
  3. Having regard to  national security issues, including those raised very recently by Four Corners, a diligent pause is wise  for the NT Government  in which to assess more widely  whether it is in the public interest now or in the future, to have the hotel situated in such a nationally strategic position.

Considering these serious issues, we ask the NT Government to avoid making an immediate decision, and also to provide the general public a longer and more thorough consultation period.

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