Minister for Lands, Planning and the Environment Peter Chandler has called for Darwin's current 90-metre height restriction on buildings in the CBD to be scrapped with a proposed amendment that will be placed on public exhibition for a 28-day period.
“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,” Chandler said.
In addition to the barrier to investment and development that the height curb presents, Chandler also pointed to the architectural and planning drawbacks it creates.
“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,” he said.
Pressure has long been building to scrap the cap on CBD developments introduced in 2009 by the Labor government in response to a request from the RAAF to permit optimal access for its aircraft seeking access to Darwin International Airport.
The airport is chiefly an RAAF facility in addition to serving private and commercial aircraft.
Earlier this year, Northern Territory Real Estate Institute chief executive officer Quentin Kilian lambasted the height limits as unnecessary and said they were a key factor stifling innovative development of the Darwin downtown area.
“Quite frankly, if you have got a $3 billion aircraft and you can’t fly around a building, get a new job,” said Kilian.
Should the Territory government remove the height restrictions, buildings whose heights exceed 90 metres will still require the approval of the Department of Defence as well as other civil aviation authorities on a case by case basis.
In addition to scrapping the height curb, Chandler also hopes to foster more innovative development by conferring greater authority upon the Development Consent Authority (DCA) to alter the requirements of the Planning Scheme 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,” he said. “The current prescriptive nature of the Planning Scheme has resulted in some developments with long blank walls.”
“These changes will encourage investment in innovative designs which will result in developments that better suit Darwin’s lifestyle.”