Lee Point - PLan, The Planning Action Network Inc

    Lee Point

    Development of Muirhead North by DHA - Lee Point


    Dear Friends,


    1.        Over the years the DHA has been developing Lee Point, successively working northwards, first with Lyons, and then with Muirhead.  It is now  in the process of developing the last available northern parts, on either side of Lee Point Road.

    2.        DHA is an agency of the Commonwealth Department of Defence, and its brief is to build housing for defence families who are stationed in various bases around Australia.

    3.        It is a major developer on the Darwin scene, but uses its  own guidelines. These  are not always seen as suitable  for sustainable  tropical living. 

    For instance, DHA is responsible for the demolition  of hundreds of naturally breeze  cooled louvred elevated  houses on the RAAF land  at Winnellie.

    4.        The current NT Planning Notices at 'https://www.ntlis.nt.gov.au/planning/lta.dar.list’, or Search 'Development applications on line’, includes a copy of the current DHA application  (yellow shading ) for new development at Muirhead North ( blank at Lot 9730), above the already developed part of Muirhead.

      It is reproduced here, and below the long established Morandini Caravan and Camping Resort. This  copy here is not an active copy. The  total application does not need to be studied in all aspects.


    Muirhead North 1

    [View Proposal][Make Submission]


    Lot 09370 Town of Nightcliff
    544 LEE POINT RD  

    Town Planning Zone:

    FD (Future Development)

    Description of Proposal:

    Subdivision to create 283 lots in five stages

    Consent Authority:

    Development Consent Authority (Darwin Division)

    Exhibition period:

    Friday, 26 October 2018 - 12 Midnight Friday, 09 November 2018


    Northern Planning Consultants Pty Ltd


    5. What we think may concern many Darwin residents is the number, and proposed size of the lots. This is why we are drawing it to your attention urgently.

    Map of proposed Muirhead North development covering 51.17 hectares in total.  The colours are for differentiation but are  not formal zones.

    The sizes are as follows:

    5.1    Lots 4000 square metres (sm's), and larger (biting insects at Leanyer Swamp)) = 32 lots, or 12% of total lots.

    5.2    Lots 600 -700sm = 62 lots, or 24% of total lots.

    5.3    Lots 540 - 599sm = 56 lots, or 22% of total lots.

    5.4   Lots 450 - 539sm = 110 lots, or 42%  of  total lots.

    This  means that 64% of these residential lots  would be less than 599sm, with the most available homes being   just 450-539sm.




    51.17 ha







    6.      We are extremely concerned about the suitability of these small lots for living in the tropics. There are examples of similar homes now being built on the RAAF base where you can see them crowded together, with almost no back gardens at all. Simply speaking, they are just not suitable for tropical suburbs. 

    As the long term future of Darwin and its families is involved we should not be limited to DHA’s first thoughts for layout in the  ‘exploitation' of these rare pieces of remaining good suburban land.

    They are very close together. The ‘building envelopes' provide very little space between the actual houses, and between the houses and their fences, so that there is virtually no space for  trees for natural shade. No room on the lot for a boat, and very little for a barbecue with family or neighbours. Where will the children play ? Not in the street either. Street trees lining roads do not shade homes.

    We are told by DHA staff  that these houses must have air-conditioning to every room, making for dependence on artificial cooling, and a big added pull on Darwin's electrical generation. These are ‘solid houses’.  We cannot asses ‘orientation, but the overall  layout appears to limit it severely. With dependence on public transport, the roads look narrow. What about garbage trucks and deliveries.

    During Prince Harry’s recent visit, we have heard a lot about PSTD, amongst defence personnel.  Small house lots cannot provide separation and space when individuals, spouses,  and children families need it for  their mental health.  Also there is nowhere for a wife to keep a guard dog, or house a big boat.  There are no front fences, so that the front gardens can be enjoyed for relaxation. 


    Submissions become part of the public record, and are be considered by the Development Consent Authority (DCA). Anyone in the public can attend a DCA Hearing. But submitters have a right to speak.

    There are several ways of making a submission in your own words, including your points, and name and address, and make a copy of it to keep.

    7.1    An easy way  is to  go into the live online NT Planning Notices  (www.ntlis.nt.gov.au/planning') above, and  send it by clicking   ‘Make Submission’ at the bottom the relevant online map.

    7.2    Another is to compose a submission to  The Director, Development Assessment Services, and send it by email to: 

                                                     This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.’    OR.   ‘This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.'

    7.3    If you are submitting a hard copy, it must be posted in time to: 

                                           The Director, 

                                           Development Assessment Services,

                                           Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics,

                                           GPO Box 1680,

                                                                           Darwin, NT 0801

    7.4     OR Hand deliver  by 4pm on 9 November, 2018 to the counter at the First Floor, Energy House, 18-20 Cavenagh Street, Darwin.


    It is important that  many people now  make submissions, however short,  on this application for the subdivision of lots at Muirhead North, as outlined above.  

    This is especially important because, when the parallel  DHA subdivision application for  the over 500 lots, on 132 hectares,  on  the sea side of Lee Point Road, was public exhibited last year,  from 1 December to 15 December, 2017, that it is at Darwin’s holiday time,  only one submission was received. 

    We need your help to demonstrate that people are committed to consultation, and that their views need to be heard and taken seriously.,   

    It is PLan’s view that the application for the  first subdivision (2CRU) must  be re-exhibited to allow a proper consultation processes.  The public is currently unaware of major issues there. 

    DHA has kept the development quiet.

    The 2CRU site has additional considerations to be addressed in relation to the land clearing, the impact on Casuarina Coastal Coastal Reserve, the proposed 2X12 storey buildings in a tourist precinct, and the need, or otherwise for a neighbourhood development.  This is a beautiful piece of land which demands respect if it is to be cleared.

    Perhaps you will agree that the ‘forgotten application' should be re-exhibited  in the first half of  2019.  Many cannot see the current Darwin  urgency for the development of 700 new lots at Lee Point, and that it may be better to have an attitude to wait and see.

    Please consider this issue seriously.



    PLan: the Planning Action Network, Inc

    Muirhead North

    PLan the planning action network

    Lee Point Submission October 2018

    Lee Point Master-Planned Urban Development [2CRU (West) & Muirhead North (East), being Defence Housing Australia proposed development.

    Submission by PLan: the Planning Action Network. 5.10.2018
    Comments were invited by DIPL when a variation amending text was submitted by DHA in September, 2018.

    1. In late September, 2018, our organisation was invited by Development Assessment planners to make a submission on the additional matter recently provided, relating to this development application from Defence Housing Australia (DHA).

    We do not recall a previous exhibiting of a main application which we are told was done in December, 2017.

    At that time our organisation was more than fully committed to making positive input to the Planning Review process. At the same time we were being asked to comment on the much more superficial Discussion Draft - Planning for a Vibrant future’ (Orange/Yellow Document covering losely the whole of the NT).

    Darwin people were at that time, as can always be expected at that time of the year, concentrating on their Christmas holiday family arrangements, particularly annual interstate travel.

    2. PLan has for very many months in 2018 worked hard in an attempt to make contact with DHA planners about the details of this development. Developments in Lyons, Muirhead by DHA have often been a particular concern to us. At this time our purpose was to ensure that the DHA’s earlier failure to provide Muirhead with a publicly managed Community Centre facility, would not be repeated, but now the issues with DHA are much more diverse, and have much wider implications for the well being of Darwin and its people.

    When it made its official supervisory visit concerning the approval of national expenditure on an earlier Muirhead development, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works (PSCPW) consulted publicly with local people and stakeholders, including our organisation. Then, in its formally printed report to the Commonwealth Parliament, its Recommendations stressed that social infrastructure be provided at Muirhead. Their intention was clearly that there would be a publicly managed Community Centre, similar to the one provided for Lyons, with the co-operation of ELTON CONSULTANTS, and Darwin City Council.

    The Lyons Community Centre was a great success, often fully booked by the community. It plays a strong positive role for that community.


    By these planning steps, the people of Muirhead were denied their right to an independent publicly run Community Centre.


    PLan wants to see that this public community centre is restored, and such failure can never happen again. We need balance in planning, as planning is for our future lives, not just part of a scheduled economic exercise.

    3. It is our very strong opinion, and ultimate conclusion, that DHA has avoided contact with us, for consultation about this ‘Lee Point’ development. We checked the website, rang the Canberra switchboard, visited the new Berrimah Office where they promised that Mr Grimm would phone us. We have heard nothing.

    4. More recently we were also been pressing for consultation with the DHA, on behalf of others as well as ourselves. They have asked us for help to make a contact for them. Landcare groups are very concerned about environmental impacts on the Casuarina Coastal Reserve, including protecting migratory sea birds, land based endangered species like tree rats, and native birds, like bands of black cockatoos.

    PLan has tried to meet with DHA for a community consultation on plans for this next phase at Lee Point without response. People say that DCA hearings recently have been short on listening, and strong on ’ticking the boxes.’

    5. PLan became more able too assist them with their information needs, when the EPBC and EIS assessment process came to light, with website references, etc.
    We were not aware though that the EIS reports contained introductory planning information, nor was there a call for a planning consultation at that time.

    Lee Point Master-Planned Urban Development [2CRU (West) & Muirhead North (East).

    6. PLan has now been asked to respond at short notice, during an ‘additional information or variation period’ when extensive added information has been now supplied by the proponent relating to the proposal. Of the time elapsed since this request, a considerable proportion has been devoted to our departmental response. Time is insufficient to analyse, or list, in full detail, every concern. However, the review has included:

    (a) Lee Point Area Plan, with maps, and Clause 14.1.5 - Planning Principles for the Lee Point Area Plan (Introduced by Amendment No. 369 (4.9.2015) to the NTPS)

    (b) Visit to Lee Point, including the existing DHA Lyons and DHA Muirhead,

    (c) Lee Point Road, Casuarina Coastal Reserve bushland, and the adjoining Morandini Resort in Lee Point Road at the corner of Buffalo Creek Road.

    (d) DHA EIS submission, introductory sections

    (e) DHA Added information

    7. DHA is a Commonwealth Government instrumentality whose prime purpose is to provide housing for Defence personnel and families. Lee Point, and the Casuarina Coastal Reserve are much favoured by the Darwin population for recreation. The Reserve is the most visited in the Northern Territory. Enjoying the bush environment and other natural settings is a particular characteristic of the NT population. It is a factor which draws them away from southern cities. Thus this site is important to Darwin residents who would not like it wrongly used or wasted through inappropriate development.

    8. PLan is aware that a Compact Urban Growth Policy was introduced to the NTPS, via Amendment 387 on 19 June, 2015. This its a controversial policy when applied to the NT which has a land area of 1.3 square kilometres, and a population of less than 245,000. Many people leave Sydney and Melbourne where such a policy may be sometimes relevant, for a more open different living environment in a tropical climate, especially to raise their families. At present the NT is urgently trying to attract more people to live here.

    9. By definition, standard SD (Single dwelling) homes in the NT must have a lot of at least 800sm.

    10. Initially Lot sizes to be offered were to be:

    In 2CRU:
    Lots 600+ 135(28%) / Lots 540-599 157(32%) / Lots 450-539 106(22%) / Lots 300-449 88 (18%)

    In Muirhead North:
    *Lots 4000sm+ 32(12%) / 600-700 62 (24%) / 540-599 56(22%) / 450-539 110 (42%)
    (These large lots were made necessary by biting midges)

    The supplementary document showed that additional small lots had been added.

    11. DHA’s object seems not to provide suitable housing for defence personnel and their families, but to exploit the new Compact Urban Growth policy. There are too many small lots without garden space. DHA prefers its own southern building rules. The Biting Midge blocks skew the averages for the estate. Was building a whole estate to these percentages ever intended ? We would think not on a tropical capital city’s edges. The situation is exacerbated by the almost lack of compensating social infrastructure in the form of structured parks,
    recreation facilities, wide access roads and transport. The Reserve is different and does not compensate for this.

    12. It is our view that the huge tourist development based on the Reserve was not viable in the first instance. This involves 3-4 towers, 8-12 storeys high(one in a buffer zone). We doubt that the fragile nature of the reserve was initially understood. In addition, why is there a ‘Main Street, with what appears to be one convenience shop, when there is a commercial centre so nearby at the northern end of Muirhead ?

    Since the Lee Point Area Plan was issued in 2015, there have been major accommodation and facility developments at the Morandini Resort directly across Lee Point Road, which should go a long way to meet the tourist need.

    13. Our impression is that service queries, particularly from Council and Power and Water, in the variation document, indicate inadequate comprehensiveness in the development application which apparently concentrates to such a degree on maximising small lot residential turnoff.

    Here is some other particular matters.

    14. Both development sites are not zoned, except in general, as all ’FU’( Future Use). This is but a transitional zoning without adequate conditions. Thus the criteria and characteristics of land utilisation are not clear, and the boundaries can be unclear. There is not always consistency with the NTPS. This is important because the areas are divided up for different specific land uses, labelled vaguely as such, but not responsibly zoned.

    15. Terminology is not consistently used. For instance in these documents, Community Purposes Land includes ‘residential’ whereas in the NTPS is a much more specific category, and actually a zone. This makes interpretations and comparisons virtually impossible. NTPS Terminology should be consistently used.

    16. The map scales on the two original West and East maps are confusing. The first is in the scale1:5000, and the second 1:4000. The names of the different house sizes are misleading - confusing comparative size.

    17. The DHA proposal is very exploitative. With the exception of a few special lots, most residential lots are very small compared with the standard SD lots, allowing little space for a spa, house gardens, alarm dogs, and/or children. Though size is listed, zoning type of dwelling is not. A compact housing regime would be very disappointing. Small homes are not always affordable to buy or rent, and can be hot, attracting high airconditioning costs for cooling in the wet.

    Parks are often reduced to slivers, or left overs, often less than half a lot wide. When house lots are small, there is a need for more parks, so that people can get out of the house, and exercise, or let off steam. Children should be able to play team and ball games informally on flat prepared grounds.

    18. There is some mention of a community centre, eg. Page 177 (EIS DOC.) mentions, ‘an additional 2000sm will allow the development of a community centre.’ At 8.4.2 it describes a community centre as a shared spaced with multiple rooms and flexible useability’. In the introduction on page 8, it does not mention a community centre. The 2CRU map shows a ‘potential community centre’. Elsewhere it is shown on the MN side. However in none of these instances is it made clear when the community centre will be built, and by whom. It appears that nowhere does DHA claim responsibility for that. Council has added its concern about the responsibilities of DHA with social infrastructure. Does it only build for profit?

    19. Though a tourism presence has long been part of a proposal, we think that now one with 2x12 storeys, and one 1x8 storeys tower (520apartments ) west of Lee Point Road, plus another, it is an great over expectation. Lee Point and Buffalo Creek are pleasant locally, but not spectacular, certainly not magnificent. Even the migratory birds are seasonal. Other natural creatures will not withstand dense exposure to crowds. If built, there is a possibility off these becoming ‘slums’. Compare the Lodge of Dundee, Crab Claw Island resort,
    and Kakadu for relative size of accommodation provision for tourists.20. As there has been little time to prepare this document, we expect more issues to arise.
    PLan: the Planning Action network, inc


    PLan: The Planning Action Network Inc. –16/10/2018



    Nick Kirlew, Convener of PLan: The Planning Action Network today released a letter to the NT Minister for Planning, the Federal Government Ministers for Defence, Finance and the Minister for Defence Personnel all of whom are listed as being responsible for the Defence Housing Authority. The letter calls for an immediate intervention over the imminent destruction of a 145ha unique coastal environment at Lee Point.

    The background to this call is the following:

    • The Northern Territory Development Consent Authority is due to consider this development on Friday, 19th October 2018. There were only two public submissions about this development which indicates a serious failing in the Defence Housing Authority’s process of seeking public input over the development.
    • There is a 1,200 page environment impact statement which is being assessed by the NT Environmental Protection Authority, that assessment is not complete.
    • Both Darwin City Council and Power Water have expressed issues with the scale of the development and the lack of detail offered by the proponent.
    • In an earlier stage of the Defence Housing Authority development in the area, the Commonwealth Government’s Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works (PSCPW) consulted publicly with local people and stakeholders, including our organisation. Then, in its formally printed report to the Commonwealth Parliament, its Recommendations stressed that social infrastructure be provided at Muirhead. Their intention was clearly that there would be a publicly managed Community Centre, similar to the one provided for Lyons. Since then the Community Purpose (CP zoned) land was allowed to be sold by the Defence Housing Authority for private commercial development, and still stands vacant. No community centre has been provided.
    • Lee Point, and the Casuarina Coastal Reserve are much favoured by the Darwin population for recreation. The Reserve is the most visited in the Northern Territory.
    • A Compact Zoning scheme being used by the Defence Housing Authority has recently been imported to the Northern Territory by its previous government.  This has a small lot/high density residential layout clearly inappropriate for our tropical environment. 40% of the blocks on these two developments will be less that 550sqm, we have recently seen development where the distance from the house to the back fence to the house is just 1m. This flies in the face of tropical housing design.
    • The proposal includes a tourist precinct that will introduce 3-4 apartment towers of which two could be 12 storeys, and one in the reserve buffer zone. The calls for public comment by the Northern Territory Government for this important suburban development were held over the 2017 Christmas season. This creates precedence by placing towers in suburban Darwin. Blight on the landscape and additional pressure on the fragile coastal strip.
    • By zoning the entire development FU (Future Use) it is impossible for an interested party to comprehend the final layout of the development. This is not an open process.

    Mr Kirlew went on to explain:

    These massive DHA projects have a responsibility to communicate with the community to ensure that all stakeholders have had an opportunity to have their say. Consultation over the Lyons and Muirhead developments were held and the Lyon’s Community Centre is an excellent example of DHA and stakeholders creating a better outcome.

    There has been no public planning consultation by the Defence Housing Authority for several years. PLan has been unable to get a response over this project in the last 10 months. The calls for comment were held during the 2017 Christmas season which is a difficult time for the public to attend to large development applications. At that same time there were multiple calls by the NTG for major HAVE YOUR SAY submissions both for the Planning Reform of legislation and process, and the  document  Planning for a Vibrant Future  which covered the whole NT.

    The environmental value of this area is not in dispute by any reasonable entities in the Territory. Landcare groups are very concerned about environmental impacts on the Casuarina Coastal Reserve, including protecting international migratory sea birds, land based endangered species like tree rats, and native birds, like bands of black cockatoos.

    For more details see the PLan website: https://planinc.org.au or call media contact Nick Kirlew 0447 499 794.

    Press Release Urgent Intervention Required – 145 HA Unique Coastal Environment At Threat


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