Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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HomeIssue 10Planning another plan

Planning another plan

Numerous Alice Springs master plans are already gathering dust and the next effort may well go the same way, guided by the inevitable interstate consultant.
There is the proposition for the latest document constructing our future to be “owned collaboratively” by the Town Council and the NT Government, the latter under a crushing record debt largely of their making, with little to show for it.
A “Master Plan 2050 and Alice Springs Town Centre Master Plan 2030” would both connect “today with tomorrow” and “articulate a shared community aspiration and ensure a co-ordinated process for enhancing the social, economic and environmental conditions over a time”.
So says the consultant, “futurist” and former Lord Mayor of Adelaide from 2010 to 2014, Stephen Yarwood, who summarised in a preliminary document released this week what he’s been told by council members and staff, mainly during two workshops last year.
Given the all-encompassing ambitions of the plans, the list of intentions is surprisingly limited:–
• Numerical targets for Town Centre residential and visitor populations.
• Three-dimensional model of the city that articulates a desired pattern, scale and capacity for future development.
• Parking and transport vision and actions.
• Medium density housing that provides city life and housing choice.
• City vibrancy, public life and public realm.
• Precinct planning and development that provides the right mix of land uses and community services.
• Day time and night time economy.
• Smart citizens and digital culture.
• Environmental opportunities associated with heat, water, flooding and sustainable energy.
• Alice Springs Town Council and Northern Territory Government services.
There is no acknowledgment of the serious incidence of anti-social behaviour and crime, especially by juveniles, nor the ghettos where it is bred, underpinning the drop in tourism, the stagnant population numbers, and the transformation of the suburbs into hundreds of fortresses with high fences, CCTV and ferocious dogs.
Also, just using the word “opportunity” does not dissolve the threat that comes with particularly heat, as this last summer attests, and flooding, potentially catastrophic and which we have avoided by good luck, not management.
That’s the Alice version of “global urbanisation [that] is upon us and, in response to this and other megatrends, cities and towns around the world are transforming more rapidly than ever before,” as Mr Yarwood puts it. If we are seeking the answers, we need to ask the questions – have the councillors briefing him overlooked that?
He describes Alice Springs as an “already thriving town” which gives a “lasting impression to all that visit. It has a unique character that is appealing.”
Many locals who have left town, and visitors who have had bad experiences, would find it hard to agree with that.
How will it all work?
“The City of Adelaide Act is one example of a process established between a regional government and local council to ensure effective collaboration between both parties in the interests of an effectively operating and developing a significant city centre,” writes Mr Yarwood.
“The Adelaide Capital City Committee … is chaired by the Premier of South Australia and includes the Lord Mayor of Adelaide, two state government Ministers and two City of Adelaide Councillors.
“The Committee’s legislative foundation gives a clear signal that the commitment to collaborate is backed by real intentions.”
Surely if all the above persons were performing adequately in their day jobs, they would not need to form yet another committee.
To create new master plans was Councillor Jimmy Cocking’s first initiative after being elected, in frustration with the lack of co-ordination between the multitude of existing plans: They include the FINAL Municipal Plan 2017-18, the Town Council Strategic Plan 2018-2021, the Municipal Plan 2016-17 to 2019-2020, the Municipal Plan 2018-2019 to 2021-2022 – and so on.
Add to that successive NT Government plans and the work of the NT Planning Commission – the head spins.
Cr Cocking says a “broader long term development vision” is needed, supported by the NT Government and the community”.
The government needs to be on board  “because they have the major planning powers and money for development, such as art galleries, health, education and other essential services,” says Cr Cocking.
“This is a great step forward for the town. All councillors have expresses ownership. I am excited and happy where we have landed with this first step.”
Cr Cocking says council CEO Rex Mooney had described the “briefing document” as the entrée.
We can only hope the main course will not give us indigestion.

[UPDATE 2.30pm – The Town Council provided the following details of Mr Yarwood’s remuneration: Consulting fee $13,750; travel expenses: $1,000; total expenditure $14,750.]



  1. Whilst it is true, Erwin, that Alice has so many “plans”, they have all failed in that they are too focused and do not take into account a bigger picture which is: what kind of a town do we ultimately want for ourselves.
    The ASTC plans cited by Jimmy Cocking, plus its recent Climate Action Plan, are all about what council plans to do, not what we need to do at a community level.
    I too dismiss the notion that Alice is doing well and agree that solutions need to be more than bricks and mortar, but I support wholeheartedly the need for this Masterplan.
    Developing a vision for our town is something that has not been tried before.
    I suggest it may be our one shot at having a say in improving our situation.
    No time for pessimism.
    Get cracking and think of ideas that will lift The Alice out of its recent malaise.

  2. Done at what cost? Completed on a serviette over dinner. So much BS.
    [ED See story update earlier today reporting the costs.]

  3. • Alice needs flood mitigation.
    • NT Government needs Qantas pilot programme in Alice.
    • Alice Council should buy the Melanka site and build and control cultural centre.
    • Northern Development Corp has funds. USE THEM.

  4. Before rushing in with unhelpful and uninformed comments, I urge readers to actually read the Masterplan Briefing Document prepared by Town Council, which is accessible via its website.
    You may be impressed.
    It is not a plan in itself, but a call for a plan, to be funded by Federal and/or the Territory governments.
    The Masterplan will identify actions and projects that will improve life in our town for everyone. Pseudo Guru is on the right track, with some suggestions that, after evaluation, may be found to fit into the overall Masterplan.
    We have a choice here, to either get seriously involved in the hard task ahead or stick to thinking up flippant, smart-arsed comments to post. Be useful and make a contribution instead.

  5. This should be the Master Plan:
    Fix youth crime.
    Make airfares cheaper to and from Alice to capital cities.
    Create an industry of Indigenous cultural experiences for tourist to participate in.
    Do something about the high retail rental prices in town.

  6. To further develop the CBD without first addressing flood mitigation would be leaving the cart before the horse and a blueprint for future heartbreak.

  7. Remember the towards 2030 document of a Labor administration several years ago? Full of social platitudes with no concrete plans.
    In the 35 years that I have lived here I cannot recall a single proactive initiative to produce new industries and employment opportunities.
    There have been so many opportunities missed for the want of a proactive approach.
    Some examples: A famous German research institute looking for a venue to research solar technology.
    Ignored here, in the context of a technology park on the airport land when it was managed by Infratril.
    Before Christmas, a consortium procured the old Chrysler factory in Adelaide to produce hydrogen for the emerging car industry. Their justification was the quality of sunlight in Adelaide! Did anyone chase them to come here?
    I have this week sent caparis seed (our own caper bush) to a grower in SA who has 500 plants in the ground and intends to increase it by a factor of 10.
    There is a growing market again not recognised here. There are numerous other examples passed by.
    I was also asked to procure wattle seed for the food industry. Currently research on this is being done in Africa and India. Why?
    Last year the Indian High commissioner outlined India’s need for food (in the billions of dollars). Surely that should have awakened a little interest in supplying that market and doing the research to satisfy that market, but it went unnoticed.
    The issue was raised also by the Chinese vice president for food production three years ago but it too went unnoticed here.
    I can almost guarantee that the coming World Food Forum in Sydney will pass un-noticed here while everyone else will be scrambling for market opportunities.
    Years ago, I asked the then Minister for Agriculture where Old Man Plains research station was and he told me he thought it was near Arltunga.
    If you go looking for it take an EPERB, a cut lunch and a water bag. And if you are a potential investor in food production here and subsequent employment don’t bother.
    The ex-mayor has little to distinguish himself by, apart from – like every other expert who has written reports – has at the sole aim to replicate the urban sprawl which is occurring south of Adelaide where even the Willunga Golf course is under threat of subdivision.
    Could it happen here?
    No mention of Christie’s Close in the Adelaide CBD, or the Eco village. There is nothing here to distinguish us from any other suburb in Australia. The last consultant measured his success by housing plots per hectare.
    Is that what Alice is all about? Who benefits?
    We have the unique situation south of town where we have the intersection of three major cross country transport routes, a rail head and an international airport all together, yet we refuse to acknowledge that the town is now in the wrong position for future growth.
    And that includes the cultural centre which should be incorporated into Yirara College. After all it’s their culture which we all share and use.
    Do we really want to be the same as everywhere else?

  8. We need planning to be the role of the town council, not the NT government from Darwin.
    How can we plan for our future development when there is no plan.
    A town plan from the early 80s is lost.
    Until we have a town plan on development any master plan is a joke. And to my knowledge the master plan does not include development areas for our growth.

  9. And in Darwin flood mitigation has been addressed with major headworks.
    How about Alice Springs CBD and The Gap? There is still not a murmur on when Alice Springs will have increased protection on an inevitable Todd River flood.
    Thanks Alice Springs News for keeping this on the government’s agenda.

  10. Wood home furniture has something incredibly organic about it.
    There is this sense of warmth, of attributes and of beauty that can be discovered in hardwood household furniture. Hardwood is birthed coming from the earth. It feeds the fire, breaks down in to blows and also ashes away. It is actually quite close to the human presence on earth. May be that is actually why it sounds so much with our company. When you handle an abundant mahogany work desk, might be actually that is why you still get that warm emotion.

  11. @ Trevor Shiell: I hear and share your disappointment.
    Even as recently as the past few weeks comments were sought on the proposed Kilgariff Stage 2 development proposal.
    This proposal provides for about 90% of the proposed new residential lots being long-axis oriented north south, in Alice, not optimally east west!
    The additional energy consumption due to this incorrect optimal lot orientation will eventually add up to tons and tons of carbon emissions … and lots of $s in energy bills for residents trying to cool things down in summer, and warm things up in winter.
    God help us if we can’t even get this right in this day and age.


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