The community is losing Lee Point (a treasured Darwin asset) due to a lack of democratic process and transparency.
The public benefit of housing thousands of people at Lee Point needs to be investigated by the (independent) Public Works Committee before further taxpayer funds are invested.
The Australian Government has planned to house thousands of people at Lee Point (approx 30% are defence personnel). This is a major public works project for Darwin with a total cost in the order of $400M.
The Australian Government wholly owns the Lee Point land in question and the developer, Defence Housing Australia (DHA).
The Lee Point Area Plan was drafted for DHA (not the community) without the involvement of the (independent) NT Planning Commission and without adequate community consultation. This is the NT Government’s explanation of how the Lee Point Area Plan came about; “On 17 November 2014, an application to introduce the Lee Point Area PIan into the NT Planning Scheme was lodged by Northern Planning Consultants on behalf of DHA. The Lee Point Area Plan was developed by professional planning consultants on behalf of DHA, in consultation with the Department of infrastructure, Planning and Logistics.”
City of Darwin council want the NT Government to place a moratorium on the current DHA development until the (independent) NT Planning Commission has completed a comprehensive Area Plan for Lee Point.
Less than 15% of northern suburb residents were aware that thousands of people were going to be housed at Lee Point prior to 2020.
What assessments are normally carried out for public works by the Australian Government?
In general, all public works undertaken for the Australian Government that are estimated to cost more than $15 million are referred to the (independent) Public Works Committee (PWC) for assessment.
The previous DHA housing development (725 houses) at Lyons/Muirhead was referred to PWC and reported to parliament. This has yet to happen for the current DHA housing development (800 houses) at Lee Point.
What assessments/studies on public benefit were undertaken for Lee Point?
To date, no government studies have been published on the benefits of housing thousands of people at Lee Point compared to other suitable locations.
Government completed an Environmental Impact Statement and Assessment Report for this development in 2018. Understandably, these reports focus on the environmental impact in the affected area and not on long-term public benefit. Public benefit or public value is not mentioned in these reports.
Planning for Lee Point has further information.
Who benefits from the Lee Point housing development?
This question remains unanswered by government. We know it’s not:
- people who visit Lee Point – there will be severe impact on people’s enjoyment of Lee Point
- Australian Defence Force personnel – they will be subjected to biting insects and sewage odours, plus infrequent bus services
- local residents – who will be subjected to increased traffic congestion
- tourism operators (all the ones we have spoken to are strongly opposed to the development)
- taxpayers – who will need to fund additional infrastructure (for an urban sprawl) in a time of record high debt levels.
- future generations – there will be considerable loss of habitat and wildlife at Lee Point, and increased emissions (due clearing intact forests and increased car travel) – Darwin is getting hotter
In short, very few people will benefit from this development and it’s not surprising very few people support it. An independent body must be involved now to allow the Darwin community a proper say before further damage is done to Lee Point.