Densification of Darwin Suburbs, Rural Area Lands and Villages
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).
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.
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
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.