Northern Territory

Proposal to remove height limits in central Darwin placed on public exhibition

A PROPOSED planning scheme amendment to remove building height limits in central Darwin was last week placed on public exhibition by the Northern Territory Government.

Minister for Lands, Planning and the Environment Peter Chandler said that if approved, the amendment would encourage further investment and innovation in the city centre.

"There is no reason why buildings in Darwin's CBD should be limited to 90 metres through an arbitrary regulation. It is unnecessary red tape and a road block to investment," Mr Chandler said.

"Height limits can stifle design leaving developers little choice but to use every square inch of their lot, often stacking buildings next to each other. This is not conducive to a modern, liveable tropical city."

In addition to abolishing height limits, the amendment proposes authority be given to the Development Consent Authority (DCA) to vary planning scheme requirements for building design.

"This will allow the DCA some flexibility in recognising that a development may have found a better way of reaching design requirements. The current prescriptive nature of the Planning Scheme has resulted in some developments with long blank walls," Mr Chandler said.

"These changes will encourage investment in innovative designs which will result in developments that better suit Darwin's lifestyle."

Although the proposed amendment would remove restrictions on building heights, buildings over 90 metres – or 45 metres in some areas – will still require approval from the Department of Defence and other civil aviation authorities on a case-by-case basis.

"I'm hoping Canberra will see the benefits of these changes and follow the Territory's lead in driving development of the North," Mr Chandler said.

If approved, the proposed amendment to the NT Planning Scheme will:

  • Delete clause 6.3.1 – Building Heights in Central Darwin and associated references to clause 6.3.1 in other parts of the NT Planning Scheme;
  • Include a new reference guideline titled 'Airport Building Height Limits and the Darwin City Centre' in the Schedule to Clause 2.8 – Reference to Guidelines; and
  • Amend clause 6.3.2 – Volumetric Control in Central Darwin to allow the consent authority discretion to vary the building podium controls.

More information is available from the Department of Lands, Planning and the Environment website at <http://www.lands.nt.gov.au/planning/planning-system/planning-scheme-amendments/PSA-Exhibits>. The public exhibition period ends on 24 October 2014.

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