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:
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