Current Lee Point Area Plan is harming Darwin’s future

By Friends of Lee Point

 

Lee Point – land clearing north of Muirhead for Stage 1A (of 5 Stages) –  photo early Oct 2021

The City of Darwin Council is calling for a moratorium on current development of Lee Point until the NT Planning Commission has developed a comprehensive Area Plan for the whole of Lee Point.

Clearly something is wrong with the Lee Point Area Plan (Plan) when no one is able to properly explain why housing thousands of people at Lee Point will be good for Darwin in the long term.

 

So what went wrong?

The Plan was the result of a) zoning the land and b) developing the Plan that allowed housing in that zone.

a) Zoning the land – the independent NT Planning Commission (Commission) carried out limited planning work in the northern suburbs prior to zoning the Lee Point land.

b) Developing the Plan – an NT Department focussed the Plan on the defence land at Lee Point and did not fully consider the impact on the whole of Lee Point. The Commission, which was primarily established by the NT Parliament in 2012 for this type of planning work, was not involved, despite having done most of the Area Plans in Darwin.

The Plan was exhibited (without a discussion paper with options) to the public by the NT Government four weeks before Xmas 2014, a time when most people are preoccupied with the upcoming holiday break. As a consequence of this limited community consultation, 17 submissions were received and only two submitters attended the hearing in February 2015. Even prior to 2020 (based on an online survey) less than 15% of people in the northern suburbs were aware that thousands of people were to be housed at Lee Point.

No cost-benefit work was done by government on the long-term public benefits of housing people at Lee Point compared to other locations. Nor was the benefit of using some of the last intact old growth forests remaining in Darwin for eco-tourism considered. Given Lee Point is a highly valued, irreplaceable asset, the planning work was short sighted and inadequate.

Further assessment

A preliminary cost benefit assessment in October 2020 by two concerned Darwin residents, Ian Redmond and Gayle Laidlaw, found no public benefit (social, environmental or economic) from housing people at Lee Point as compared to other locations, such as Northcrest, which is closer to jobs, infrastructure and bus services.

Housing at Lee Point is unnecessary and will lead to:

  • increased traffic congestion, car dependency and emissions;
  • considerable loss of habitat and wildlife (which has commenced); and
  • significant cost for the taxpayer.

In short, an urban sprawl, which will have a severe impact on people’s enjoyment of Lee Point.

The Plan is at odds with the stated objectives from the 2020 NT Planning Act, which is “…to promote the sustainable development of land; and to protect the quality of life of future generations…“, nor does it reflect the wishes and needs of the community or promote eco-tourism businesses. Further, the Plan is not aligned with the Australian or NT Government’s  commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 or the 2016 Smart Cities Plan which encourages housing to be located near jobs and transport, read more: Planning for Lee Point, Darwin NT – Save Lee Point

 

Summary

For Lee Point to be developed in accordance with the NT Planning Act, a comprehensive Area Plan is required. The City of Darwin Council’s call for a moratorium is fully justified considering the current development is not in line with the NT Planning Act objectives. The Council is to be commended for their forward thinking and proactive approach in trying to protect the quality of life of future generations.