Lee Point

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.
A. BACKGROUND TO THESE COMMENTS - NEED FOR PRIOR CONSULTATION WITH COMMUNITY.

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.

Instead of implementing the PSCPW Recommendation to the Commonwealth Parliament, about public social facilities in Muirhead, moves by the DHA led to THE COMMUNITY PURPOSES LAND PROVISION FOR A PUBLIC COMMUNITY CENTRE, BEING PART OF A SHOPPING CENTRE LOT - A LOT THEN TO BE SOLD TO A COMMERCIAL OPERATOR, MAKING IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR IT TO BE A COMMUNITY OWNED CENTRE TO BE SHARED AND MANAGED. FOR PUBLIC USE.

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

THE WHOLE LOT IS NOW SITS UNUSED TO THIS DAY, IN FUHRMANN STREET, MUIRHEAD.

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.

B. SUBMISSION POINTS FROM PLAN - NEED FOR PRIOR CONSULTATION WITH COMMUNITY.
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.
M A CLINCH
PLan: the Planning Action network, inc
89271999

News

Post Office Car Park - a tale of three trees

Here is the baby Boab tree dated 1911, and the other school building across Wood Street on the PO Carpark site. Supplied by Judy Boland. The trees near by may be Milkwoods.

Baby Boab

Frog Hollow Significant Trees

Frog Hollow

Frog Hollow is situated on Lots 5665 and 5672 in the City of Darwin. All of Lot 5665 and the northwestern portion of Lot 5672 are covered by parkland with many old and shady trees. All of the parkland is referred to on the City of Darwin website as Frog Hollow Park “a popular space for events and gatherings”. The remaining south-eastern portion of Lot 5672 houses the Frog Hollow Centre for the Arts which includes the Darwin Visual Arts Association. The whole Frog Hollow area is highly valued by the Darwin community. Additionally, the recent City of Darwin election highlighted the importance of natural green space within the City of Darwin, particularly in the CBD.

The Darwin Primary School was built in 1952 on the area known as Frog Hollow; the school buildings were on what is now Lot 5672 and the school playground covered the western portion of Lot 5672 and Lot 5665. Prior to the school Frog Hollow was a natural drainage line which became a wet season creek. Lot 5665 of Frog Hollow was declared as a Heritage Place under the Heritage Conservation Act in March 1996. The Heritage Register states “Frog Hollow is open parkland that was originally utilised as worker camps in the initial years of Commonwealth jurisdiction over the Northern Territory. The open land of Frog Hollow is highly valued by the Darwin community for its social and educational associations with the workers camps and later the Darwin Primary School. It is also valued as natural parkland within the Central area of the city.”

The community values the whole of the Frog Hollow precinct, not just Lot 5665. The central part of the precinct proposed to be developed into a main road is on Lot 5672 and contains many of the highly valued trees.

50 trees are proposed to be removed for the road. The significant tree listing discussed in this report shows that all of Frog Hollow needs protecting. The proposed main road is very wide and not required to meet Darwin’s needs, it should not be built through Frog Hollow.

Northern Territory Register of Significant Trees

The Northern Territory Register of Significant Trees was established by the National Trust of Australia (NT) and Greening Australia (NT) to raise community awareness about the value of trees and to protect and maintain this important part of our natural and historic heritage. Trees are included on the register on the basis of one or more categories of significance. The Northern Territory Register of Significant Trees is housed at the National Trust of Australia (NT)’s Darwin office at Audit House, 2 Burnett Place, Larrakeyah.

Frog Hollow Significant Tree Listing

The trees at Frog Hollow were listed on the Northern Territory Register of Significant Trees as a “Group of Trees” on 8 July 1986. Their number on the register is “Area 1” and the listing covers Lots 5665 and 5672 and adjacent road reserve. The categories of significance that the trees were nominated under are:

  • Category 2: Any tree outstanding for its large height, trunk circumference or canopy spread. •  Category 6: Any tree which occurs in a unique location or situation or provides a significant contribution to the landscape, including remnant native vegetation, important landmarks and trees which form part of an historic garden, park or town.
  • Category 10: Any group or avenue of trees conforming to any of the above criteria.

Many of the trees at Frog Hollow are included in the listing. The trees mapped in the significant tree listing are shown on the image on the following page. Many of the trees were planted in the 1950’s when Frog Hollow was the site of the Darwin Primary School. The Register of Significant Trees includes maps, species lists of all the mapped trees, and photos of some of the trees. There were 33 different species of trees included in the listing. It appears some trees have since been removed, or have possibly died. However many of the listed trees remain.

Image of Frog Hollow showing listed Significant Trees (image from Nearmap 2017)Image of Frog Hollow showing listed Significant Trees (image from Nearmap 2017)

Images of Frog Hollow from either end of Proposed Main Road (Google Maps 2016)Images of Frog Hollow from either end of Proposed Main Road (Google Maps 2016)

Barneson Boulevard and Tiger Brennan Drive duplication project

View the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics Consultation Report

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.

URGENT- DUAL OCCUPANCY-THE SCOURGE OF GOOD PLANNING', 'SUBMISSIONS CLOSE 17 MAY, 2017

Our Facebook page cover photo is of the colour-keyed zoning map for Darwin. Zoning is the very basis of professional planning. It is how our various land uses are arranged to work together in a compatible way. Each zone has its own NT Planning Scheme rules, and appropriate infrastructure. This includes, the several types of residential uses in zones with different characteristics. 

The zoning initially set down provides an orderly pattern with which new developments must comply. Land values are to a large extent based on established zoning.

What then is Dual Occupancy?

Dual Occupancy is an idea, which if applied, allows existing residential zoning patterns to be disrupted. Dual Occupancy equals the effect of spot rezoning when occurring in built up areas. The zoning fabric and pattern is destroyed by one by one changes. This is the very 'spot rezoning' that is supposed to be avoided by the strategic planning using the Area Plans. These plans for future growth were imposed on Darwin by CLP Planning Minister-Dave Tollner, Commissioner Gary Nairn, and NT Planning Commission in the last few years.

In simple terms, ‘dual occupancy’ is permitting the building of two houses on lots zoned specifically for SD(Single dwelling/s), and 1000sm or over. This is a ridiculous duplication of density. It retrospectively undermines planning, by causing smaller house sites within established zones. It has a cumulative effect.

Dual Occupancy Amendment no.452 to the NT Planning Scheme

In the dying days of the CLP Government, Planning Minister Tollner rushed major planning changes and newly introduced NT Planning Commission planning processes through the NT Parliament. This included Amendment no.452 to the NT Planning Scheme, allowing Dual Occupancy. This was opposed by the public in submissions, and at a hearing before Denis Burke. About 50 attended, though held in office hours. The opposition was strong.

Strangely an approval decision followed by Minister David Tollner.

The approved no. 452 with new NT Planning Scheme clauses was signed by Minister Tollner on 27 July, 2016. It was published with other of his decisions on 29 July, 2016. The NT Government election was held on 27 August, 2016.

Review by Our Planning Minister Manison

ALP Minister for Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics - Nicole Manison on 19 October, 2016, established an Interim Order preventing Amendment 452 from being used for 12 months. Now she has implemented a review of the provisions of the decision, setting up a consultation process by the firm of Elton Consulting.

Contacts for Consultation by Elton Consulting

Elton Consulting has prepared a Consultation Paper, April. 2017, called Northern Territory Dual Occupancy to be available on their project website at www.elton.com.au/dualoccupancy. If that reference fails, as does now for me (Google search elton.com.au/dual occupancy-Dual Occupancy community consultation-Elton consulting).

There is discussion paper to download, a register for updates, a place to register for a workshop, a detailed on line survey of your details, and a brief space to comment on dual occupancy. There is a free workshop in Darwin on Saturday morning, 6 May, 2017 for which you can register. The telephone hotline is 1800 870 706, not responding at present.

We explained the short notice to Elton’s adding that we expected the community to be at the Seabreeze Festival - the focus on Saturday, 6 May, 2017 at Nightcliff. They are unwilling to change that date, as their programme is tight, and they have other ‘Stakeholders’. This, and the short window, is most unsatisfactory.

Community Opinion, and the Content of the Discussion Paper

We do not know who wrote this Discussion Paper, but in our view it is superficial, but at the same time strongly biased towards a tick for Dual Occupancy. The full story, and the true picture of its impact on our tropical living are not being told.

In 2012 there was strong opposition, including from Council, when Elton was involved in a move to introduce Dual Occupancy. This failed. Its introduction would benefit a few individuals, but could spread like a pox on our suburbs, and destroy suburban character, and ultimately the planning system. ‘Random’ exceptions to zoning through dual occupancy could be approved all over Darwin.  

The strong objections given by home owners and suburban residents, as part of due process during the exhibition period, and at the hearing in 2016, should have been adequately sufficient to quash Planning Minister Tollner’s attempt to legalize dual occupancy for years to come. 

WHAT CAN PEOPLE DO NOW TO STOP DUAL OCCUPANCY

If you share the view already expressed by many suburban residents that Dual Occupancy should not be introduced, here are some reasons you might choose from for mention in your own words, in your comments to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. email address. It is always a good idea to keep a copy of your submission.  

  • This proposal needs to be rejected. 500sm is not large enough to build a separate tropical home.
  • Amendment 452 is unnecessary now. There are a serious overestimations of the rate of growth of the Darwin population in the coming years.
  • Dual Occupancy would destroy our highly prized suburbs like Larrakeyah, Brinkin, Nightcliff, Northlakes, by randomly splitting land into small lots.
  • Location, location, location is the catch cry of real estate agents. This would destroy certainty of suburban values.
  • Good planning rests on informed zoning, with a proper mix. Dual Occupancy is random and can be cumulative.
  • Dual Occupancy is not about overall housing need.
  • Smaller homes on share lots are catered for by the MD (Multiple dwelling zoning, and by independent units.
  • Rarely is existing utility infrastructure in older suburbs sufficient for dual occupancy, though the saving on infrastructure is often used as a poular argument.
  • Roads, particularly in circuits, are narrower, leading to parking and traffic problems.
  • Battle axe blocks, regarded by planners as undesirable, would multiply.
  • Dual occupancy affects three sets of neighbours, reducing privacy affecting lights and noise.
  • Most existing homes are placed centrally, and addressing the street, meaning demolition before a second house can share the lot.
  • Dual occupancy would result in loss of tree cover for natural shade, and cumulative loss of valued gardens in older suburbs.
  • Denser dwellings have a greater dependence on air conditioning as the breezes are lost. Clothes dryers are also needed.
  • Overall, there is a cumulative loss of amenity in affected suburbs.
  • The large figures for lots of 1000+ show that there is a huge potential for insecurity amongst the neighbours of such homes. With a big investment, and possibly a mortgage, waking to a development sign in a ‘safe’ zone, would cause severe uncertainty and stress followed by disruption by noise.
  • Given that public opposition has centred on the concept of dual occupancy per se, the Amendment no.452 clauses have as yet not been properly assessed by residents. For instance , attached dwellings would lack acceptance in large lot suburbs.
  • With subdivisioning left optional for dual occupancies, Councils face uncertainties about services, land values and rating.
  • Our opinion is that the discussion paper is superficial, but biased towards dual occupancy. It lacks critical analysis. It is unbalanced and misleading when it uses Cairns with a different planning system as an example. Most of the pictures are of copious modern duplexes. Duplexes are already catered for in Darwin the MD zone.

Conclusion

I hope there is now greater understanding of planning and the negative implications of allowing Dual Occupancy and the clauses of NT Planning Amendment no.452.

Flagstaff Park Development Proposal

Flagstaff Park (Lot 5180, Town of Darwin) is the public park (zoned PS- Public Open Space) on the top of the end of Myilly Point. It has l panoramic views of the Darwin Harbour, and is of history and heritage significance. The old 'gardens' are a remnant of Flagstaff House, which was a Vice Regal home, until destroyed by Cyclone Tracy in 1974.

This park was publicly dedicated by Chief Minister Clare Martin to the people of Darwin in 2001.

Continue Reading

Area Plans for Darwin's Inner Suburbs

The NT Planning Commission expects that Darwin's population to double in 40-50 years. The NT Government intends to densify by infill developments in Darwin's Inner Suburbs, from Stuart Park to the Narrows. This is as well as the Darwin CBD doubling in size.

Continue Reading

Specific Use Zones undermining our Planning Scheme

The government too readily believes developers' claims their development will be affordable & sustainable only on the basis they can have their own private set of rules for their development & can ignore the Planning Scheme. This is planning by the developers. They contradict the NT Planning Scheme and ignore community aspirations.

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Weddell

The Territory Government launched its Greater Darwin Region Land Use Plan Towards 2030 for public consultation on 10-2-11. Public information sessions have been held. Read the Media Release | More information

A Conference & Design Forum was held in September 2010 - pdfConferenceDesignForumSept10.pdf2.99 MB

The Conference & Design Forum Outcomes can be read here – pdfConferenceDesignForumOutcomes.pdf2.94 MB

See what others have said here – http://www.nt.gov.au/lands/growth/weddell/haveyoursay/conference.shtml

Have your say here - http://www.nt.gov.au/lands/growth/weddell/haveyoursay/index.shtml

Enter the Weddell Tropical Housing Design Competition here

Read the Greater Darwin Region Land use Plan - pdfGreaterDarwinRegionLandUsePlan.pdf3.52 MB

Read the Weddell Overview - pdfWeddellOverview-GrowingTheTerritory.pdf505.86 KB

Read about the Weddell Sustainability Directions - pdfWeddellSustainabilitydirections-GrowingtheTerritory.pdf409.02 KB

The NT Government says it will invest $6m in the 2011 budget to seal the road to the new city of Weddell as part of its ‘Growing the Territory’ initiative. Read the Media Release

The Exceptional Development rules now subverting our Planning Scheme

Developers are being encouraged by our government to use this rule to fast track development and overcome hurdles in the rules, when it was originally designed to enable a development which was exceptional (eg we hadn't planned to accommodate a horse & cart in the middle of the CBD in the 21st century)

The Expense of Sustainable Building

Removing a few car parks enables the developer to claim they are building sustainably yet the community has to wear the outcomes into the future.

For some practical online information on how to create sustainable urban residential developments click here

Read about the NT Government's New energy Efficiency Requirements for the Building Industry here

The Expense of Affordable Housing

Affordable housing is an issue right across Australia.  Some progress is being made, after years of government neglect.

In the NT some new estates are including 15% affordable housing  with Commonwealth Government incentive schemes available. Some firms specialise in this work. Unfortunately, some of these have unsatisfactory features, such as very small lots. In the CBD an application for affordable flats to be built in the CBD brought  strong objections. However, providing city accommodation for low paid workers, such a cleaners, is a real problem.

In the suburbs, PLan generally favours cluster dwellings with shared common open space to minute 'houses', or flats in towers. This gives people at different stages in life, a choice of accommodation types which are variously affordable.

Throughout the NT, the organisation, NT Shelter, has very quickly, under the capable Ms Toni Vine-Bromley, established effective leadership in this important field. This is part of a national network. For further information: www.ntshelter.org

Read about the NT Government's affordable housing here

Read about the NT Government's affordable housing rental company here

Read about how the NT Government is making it easier for families to own their own homes here

Read about the NT Government's initiatives for Housing the Territory here

Read about the Australian Government's Social Housing Implementation Plan - NT here

Read NT Shelters Report Levers to Promote Affordable Housing in the NT here

Read an Article in the NT News 29-7-2011 here

Densification of Darwin Suburbs, Rural Area Lands and Villages

densification

Earlier in 2011, after a long gap in long term planning, the Strategic Branch of the Department of Lands and Planning issued  'Greater Darwin Region Land Use Plan, towards 2030.  Consultation report.'  in the Growing Territory series. PLan has reference copies of the report at Shop 23 at Rapid Creek business village.

This report overviews the present planning situation, then sets out ideas for accommodating residential and commercial growth until 2025 and 2010 through land use planning and changing urban design parameters (82 pages).

pdfGreater Darwin Region Land Use Plan

Areas specified include Darwin City Centre (CBD), Darwin Inner Suburbs, Darwin City-Northern Suburbs, Winnellie/Berrimah, Palmerston, Weddell, Litchfield, Cox Peninsula. Darwin Industrial Options, and Darwin Port. In terms of residential issues, it  anticipates a population increase  of between 53,000-70,000 people, and up t0 28060 new dwellings, but other aspects are covered.

This is an NT Government policy document. There was a series of public meetings, and the time for official public comment is long past.

This  report will have a big impact on the community planning, much of which we may not be able to easily anticipate. Residents should be alert to the possibilities.

In simple terms, apart from the new city of Weddell - the subject of a planning competition, after an initial local forum for ideas which produced about eight basic models; and Palmerston which continues its scheduled initial growth, including its CBD.

pdfFactsheet

The main impact on the community is from 'infill' in existing residential areas. A surge of developer enthusiasm is already welcoming this approach, and moving to take take advantage of it. This marks an end to certainty for suburban and rural amenity, and major changes of local character.

In inner suburbs, it means more multi-storey apartments, and loss of green open space. In the Northern suburbs, it may mean the end to the community/school centred local planning provided in the 1970's by far sighted Commonwealth planners, and the swallowing up of green open spaces by developers.

In rural areas and their centres, residents have already reacted strongly to the additional populations planned through densification. Gerry Wood has already strong people support for an alternative plan with smaller increases.

Government Plan - www.nt.gov.au/lands/growth/gdr_2030/ruralvillages/index.shtml

Gerry Wood's Office - Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Though there is obviously some logic in part of the densification approach, but there are  serious dangers if it is not properly controlled, planned and managed.  The rules of land use planning must be clear in advance, set with prior public consultation, and developments not dependent on random discretionary decisions.

There are dangers such as:

Smaller lots, more suburban high rises, sharing of single lots, uncertain tenure, loss of tropical architecture, loss of local character, poor interface, loss of green open spaces, increasing lack of public facilities, overburdening older infrastructures, destruction of informed existing urban design by economic imperatives, destruction of heritage and favourite places, lack of social sustainability, lack of legal clarity, loss of amenity, neglect of children's needs, social disruption, dependence on short term developers imperatives, increases in rates,  loss of community ownership and identity, and even less open decision making.

Some of this has already happened. That is why the community must insist of being informed, call on their local members, stay informed and alert, speak up for their planning rights, demand well planned communities, and have the long term planning that we need.  It is our right in a democracy.

Rural Villages as proposed by Mr G Wood MLA for Nelson

An alternative lesser densification of rural centres than the Labor government proposes.

rural-review-article rural-villages woods-village-plan

Read & have your say about The NT Government's proposal in regard to Rural Villages here

Read the NT News Article NT News Article

The CLP appears to favour retaining rural lifestyles in rural areas – read what they told the Property Council pdfhere

Read Gerry Wood's, Independent MLA, proposal in regard to Rural Centres:

pdfRural Centre Plans13.96 MB

pdfRural Village Development Discussion Paper2.78 MB

If you accord with Mr Wood's proposal please support him – print, complete and send the following letter to the Minister for Lands & Planning

Little Mindil gifted to the Casino?

little-mindil There remain strong concerns about Little Mindil. The escarpment and the creek line have not been rehabilitated as required.

This was the responsibility of the Casino, as a condition of the crown lease term. All vegetation was mechanically torn off the
escarpment, and the fore dune, much loved  for sunset viewing was excavated and taken away as fill. Other vegetation, including trees were destroyed near residences, with loss of bird life. Promises were made by Land Administration about supervision of rehabilitation work, although nothing seems to have happened. 

PLan and local residents are concerned what will happen when the casino acquires freehold of Little Mindil when the lease finishes. Most concern is about the possibility of building on the escarpment, in front of the heritage precinct, or on the flat approaches to Little Mindil Beach. The Casino currently has fill on the motel side, away from Little Mindil. There is concern about storm surge and monsoon damage.

In order to understand the long term implications of the Casino's takeover, we have asked Minister Gerry McCarthy for a copy of the land agreement made between the NTG and the Casino, dated  26.6.2009. This is essential to interpreting the situation. There has been no reply from the Minister's Office.  No Agreement about changed ownership of public land should be commercial and in confidence'.

pdfLittle Mindil Escarpment (from 2009 newsletter)

Letter to the Editor

The letter to the editor attached below follows an item in the NT News of 6 December, 2011 publicising the installation of a footbridge in their tourist development for 'high roller' gamblers. They are able to build these extensions to their accommodation because they can move their major outside entertainment venue to little Mindil.

pdfLittle Mindil (NT News)

Parks and Public Green Open Spaces

NTNews15-5-11OpenSpaceNTNews16-5-11OpenSpace One of the most neglected and overlooked aspects of planning is the provision of public open spaces of various kinds.
Think about this !  There is a whole range of different types. the public want them for conserving the environment, for active and passive recreation, and for breathing space. But how do they get created ? Applications do not come to the DCA to be assessed. How does the public achieve new parks ?

In the case of the Mitchell Creek Catchment, the NTG.  is so far is failing to act in accord with community expectation through the Palmerston East Area Plans which are an essential park of the NTPS. The NTG favoured private ownership over the regularising the shape of the Casuarina Coastal Reserve at Lee Point. In the CBD there has been massive apartment multi-storey development for the past ten years without one new public park being created. Such lack was pointed out in the CBD Forum. Darwin City Council says it has no money for new parks, or the development of places like the old Stella Maris  as a local public facility. Even a tiny park at O'Ferrals Rock in Bayview has not been accepted by the Darwin City Council after the DCA approved it, perhaps ten years ago.

Big park  initiatives have been the Old Hospital Site and Myilly Point which attracted consultants fees when the community could easily have  done  appropriate layouts. Both are still 'promises' on hold as too costly for present budgets  which gives no priority to  public parks. Both  parks are too far away from the CBD for young women walking there with prams,  to  enjoy.  Even Flagstaff Park, a separate historical location at the end of Myilly Point,  sincerely promised, and delivered to Darwin families by former Chief Minister Clare Martin in 2001, and appropriately rezoned by Kon Vatskalis, stands abandoned, except for grass cutting.  Even it is threatened by a proposed restaurant.  Yes, we have Waterparks,  but they usually need to be driven to. We  need simple pocket parks within walking distance of home. They can be linked by walkways and bicycle parks.

In the suburbs, the Commonwealth Government era planned in natural green open spaces; and schools, and other community spaces with public ovals. Many of these are now fenced off from the public, without consultation, and others are seen a targets for the new densification.  So 'WATCH THIS SPACE',  and speak up locally, or you, and all of us, may lose it.  Little Mindil is a big example of a public recreation area actually being lost.

So we must keep in mind to remember that green open spaces are a collective  community asset. We must cherish and protect them actively. They are our ancient public right to own perpetually, and 'ARE NOT FOR SALE, OR TRADING.

The Karama Flats Community Episode

IMG 0027 The illustration shows the closeness of the proposed new development to the existing well established area of one and two storey  residences.

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.

Read NT News Article

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.

Update 18/08/2012

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.

Update 5.1.2013

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.

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