DARWIN City Council last week released a draft plan that outlines a vision for a thriving future city that is an 'engaging, inclusive, leading edge, tropical city of opportunity' and sets out how central Darwin might grow in the next 20 years from its current residential population of 5,000.
The council said the draft Darwin City Centre Master Plan, which received funding of $250,000 from the Australian Government's Liveable Cities Program and $125,000 each from the City of Darwin and the Northern Territory Government, lays out a bold new blueprint for a prosperous, vibrant northern capital that is positioned for growth.
"The city used to be the centre of Darwin life. Like many cities, however, it is now facing an identity crisis," said Lord Mayor Katrina Long Lim, adding that the revitalisation of the city is based on unlocking its potential and making Darwin an attractive destination for people to live, work, visit, shop and play.
"This plan is exciting for me because it combines both vision and logic. It imagines what our city could look like in 20 or 30 years, its roads, parks and future neighbourhoods, and then makes the case for how to get us there," the Lord Mayor said.
Federal Member for Solomon, Natasha Griggs, said the Liveable Cities Program was designed to improve the urban development of cities and contribute to their productivity, sustainability and liveability.
Ms Griggs, who is on the Joint Select Committee on Northern Australia, said the draft master plan catered for a city with a strong residential population, a university campus, quality corporate offices, strong tourism and great facilities for families.
"Darwin is almost 150 years old but in some ways is a relatively new city with plenty of room to grow and develop. I look forward to seeing the vision become reality over the next 20 years," Ms Griggs said.
Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles said that as a capital city, Darwin should showcase all that is great about living in the North.
"Darwin is northernmost capital, with a dynamic, cosmopolitan community. It is a critical hub for the country's north but also an important link for Asia into Australia," the Chief Minister said.
"As we drive Northern development, the time has come for Darwin to grow and reach its full potential," he said.
The draft master plan outlines how economic growth depends on the right mix of commercial, residential and recreational activities as well as unlocking investment by giving the private sector confidence in the future.
"In the past 20 years, the Darwin skyline and streetscape has changed. Many shops and commercial offices have moved out to the suburbs and many residents have moved into the city," the Lord Mayor said.
"Key concerns were the need to match rapid densification with attractive streets and open spaces, avoiding a city dominated by cars and making it a comfortable place to walk and shop," she said.
According to the council, the draft plan is the result of extensive stakeholder consultation, with more than 120 meetings and workshops and three participatory planning workshops. The plan is also based on comprehensive technical studies that included mapping the frontage of every city building, computer models of movement and a stocktake of city trees.
The City of Darwin and Northern Territory Government will consider feedback, prioritise concepts, and refer the final plan to the Planning Minister for consideration in the development of the Northern Territory Planning Scheme.
Subject to further feasibility studies and funding availability, the concepts are designed to be developed out over the next 20 years.
The draft master plan, consultation report and a number of supporting documents are available from the City of Darwin website at <http://www.darwin.nt.gov.au/cbdmasterplan>. Feedback on the draft master plan is required by 17 April.