Town to grow to the south and west – draft plan


p2295-town-planBy ERWIN CHLANDA
Several new areas for urban as well as rural living are included in the draft of the Alice Springs Regional Land Use Plan launched today.
The “study area” extends beyond the current municipal area to take in Brewer Estate, Pine Gap and the jail to the south, part of Undoolya Valley (earmarked “urban”) to the east, and part of Amoonguna to the south-east.
A substantial area around the current Larapinta Valley development is also marked “urban” while most of the area around the existing town, north of the Gap, is marked “conservation” – taking in the Telegraph Station national park.
Other “urban” areas are the eastern Mount Johns Valley, Emily Valley and Kilgariff.
A big area around Brewer Estate is marked “rural”.
Two big slabs of land, around the jail and extending north to White Gums (west of Ilparpa) are marked “rural lifestyle”.
The draft says: “Previous experience in the Alice Springs housing market demonstrates the problems that occur when the supply of adequate and affordable serviced land for housing lags behind demand.
“The plan seeks to ensure that suitable land is identified for efficient residential development long into the future. Recent analysis has identified land requirements to accommodate a short term population of 32,000 and a long term population of 40,000.”
The areas for more residential land are (with comments from the draft plan):-
• Mount John’s Valley, south-east of the existing residential area of Mount John’s, is “of high amenity, being located at the base of the Ranges. Property values in the existing Mount John’s suburb are the second highest in Alice Springs. The land is not constrained by topography and does not contain any known sacred sites.
• Emily Valley has planning approval for a 264 lot residential subdivision granted in 2005, and then further extended in 2014. Coolibah Tree Estate represents a clear opportunity for residential development. Some additional 95 hectares of land remain potentially available for further development in Emily Valley … with a mix of allotment sizes.
• Undoolya was established as part of a satellite township when population growth in Alice Springs was relatively high. It is unlikely that the land at Undoolya will be required to support a population of 32,000 to 40,000 persons. However the land should remain identified to potentially accommodate long term future growth.
The draft says: “The land use plan supports infill residential development, particularly within the CBD. Consideration will also be given to dual occupancy housing in order to increase residential densities within established urban areas.”
The draft comments on the access to Stephens Road when an additional 6,000 vehicles per day are using it.
“The following options could be further explored in such investigations:-
• a Connector Road between Stephens Road and Sadadeen Valley Road, which will provide a road link to the existing Stott Terrace bridge; or
• a bridge to provide access in lieu (or addition to) the Stephens Road causeway crossing (known as Taffy Pick).”
Other new traffic measures will be required.
“High crash rates have been experienced at the signalised intersections on Stott Terrace (i.e. at Bath Street, Hartley Street and Todd Street),” says the draft.
“Upgrades to improve safety at these intersections should be considered as traffic demands increase, particularly if the Sadadeen Connector Road is provided.
“The intersection of Wills Terrace and Hartley Street forms a four-way intersection with the Anzac Hill High School access point opposite Hartley Street. It is considered that this intersection should be upgraded. The installation of traffic signals could be considered.
“The roundabout treatment at the intersection of Stuart Highway and Bradshaw Drive will be required … for the increased traffic volumes on the Stuart Highway, particularly given the close proximity of the railway crossing adjacent to Bradshaw Drive.”
The draft suggests a “hierarchy of activity centres” comprising the CBD and local centres should be identified which:-
• reinforces the primacy of the Alice Springs CBD;
• establishes an efficient and equitable framework for the distribution of retail, tourist, commercial and other community needs and provides a range of residential opportunities within and/or adjacent;
• maximises local employment opportunities to encourage diversification of the economy;
• encourages active transport including walking and cycling and enhanced access to public transport;
• fosters liveable and sustainable communities.
The Planning Commission is now seeking further public comment from which the commission will prepare a final draft, which the Lands Minister – after further public comment – will consider for adoption.


  1. I haven’t read every word of this latest piece of tinsel, but one has to ask why the faceless authors insist on changing more than just nomenclature (eg Mt Johns was named after Edwin Johns, so how do we get “Mt John’s”?), by apparently changing the clearly defined terms of the NT Planning Scheme.
    Look closely, the land currently zoned RL (Rural Living, min size 2ha) and R (Rural min size 40 ha) is lumped together and coloured the same light brown, and referred to as “Rural Lifestyle”, whatever that is? It’s not in the Planning Scheme.
    The olive areas on the draft map labeled “Rural” is essentially pastoral land.
    Any land with some substantial existing Rural Residential (RR min 0.4 ha / 1 acre) is labeled as future urban! And coloured the same (pink) as the Residential Zones north of the Heavitree Range!?
    Why? The faceless authors are certainly managing to create confusion. Why depart from the existing legislated terminology?
    There is an underlying tone in this draft, and the despicable background / research document that spawned it, of anti rural sentiment.
    I hope this Draft Land Use Plan attracts more scrutiny than previous ones. Don’t leave it to “someone else”, they don’t live here anymore!

  2. I keep reading about all these future plots and locations opening up for housing … I would like to read something about where these extra 15k people are coming from? Mines around the place … we have been hearing that for 15 years.

  3. Couldn’t agree more Rod – The planners / Minister muddy the waters with non legislated zoning terminology then use these supposed consultation plans as evidence of the community’s acceptance of their proposals.
    Then again what is the point of any zoning these days?
    So long as the Planning Act / Scheme retains the ability to grant the developers Special Use Zones with their own private set of rules then any Land Use Plan is threatened with obliteration. Planning? No such thing in the NT!

  4. Ah, the heady days of the 80’s, developers knocking down icons, and planners catering for 50,000 plus, coloureful maps and booklets showing the new city of Undoolya.
    I used to take geography students up along The Ridge (a favourite Running Club training track, now part of an extended mountain bike network) and look back over Undoolya Valley towards Emily and Jesse Gaps, and tell them come back here with their grandkids and look over the new city.
    Alas, the population growth spurt of the 60s and 70s levelled out and the need faded away.
    Reminded me of the “raison d’etre” principle of urban geography. All towns need a reason for being, otherwise they fade away. Alice was a traditional central place service centre before the war, serving its rural hinterland, but that only called forth a very small town indeed. Visit Boulia to get an idea.
    The Alice then developed “special” (i.e. non central place) functions … defence (WW2, then later Pine Gap), tourism, and after the ’67 referendum gave the Commonwealth the power to fund aboriginal organizations, the “Aboriginal industry” as some like to call it.
    The future seemed bright, but growth has stagnated. As Baron Von K asks, where are the extra 15k coming from? Mining? “countrymen” in from the bush for enhanced opportunities?
    More dreams?
    Alice is special as it is the only large outback town not based on the “special function” of mining. Kalgoolie, Broken Hill and The Isa were all developed in a different era, before modern capital intensive mining methods and FIFO. So not sure how much scope there?
    And a large influx of Aboriginal folk living more permanently in town? Happening already? Could be a good outcome for all in the long run, although not without some problems, no doubt.
    There is no rule that towns always grow. Some just fade away. I lived in Charters Towers for a while and saw that first hand.
    And of course the many small service centres of the agricultural districts all over Australia are dying away as the larger “sponge towns” like Mildura, Swan Hill and Horsham and their ilk attract most of the regional growth.
    It’s good to see a new burst of optimism from the planners though, Alice could use a growth spurt, I think most would agree.


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