UPDATE ON MONDAY 3.30pm TO THIS REPORT ... click FULL STORY below.
The Department of Defence is making an application for a gated community with 40 three-bedroom "multiple dwellings" worth $20m, not counting the cost of the land off Stephens Road. If approved the complex, to house Pine Gap staff, will be built in several stages (see plan above). ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
Planning Minister Gerry McCarthy has rejected the submissions from the Alice Springs Rural Area Association (ASRAA), which represents about 70 members, and from an undisclosed number of individual objectors, by giving permission to a land owner in Petrick Road to develop blocks substantially smaller than is permitted in the town plan.
ASRAA chair Rod Cramer says he had not been contacted by Mr McCarthy, nor by Karl Hampton, the Minister for Central Australia over the issue.
The minimum block size in the area is two hectares but Mr McCarthy gave permission for three lots of 1.79 ha, 1.8 ha and 1.56 ha, respectively.
The town council commented only on the application's technical aspects of roads, stormwater and other services, says Greg Buxton, Director Technical Services.
He says while the council was at liberty to comment on other issues it did not, because the NT Government authorities were unlikely to "pay attention" as the council has no role in questions of zoning.
This is a long shot from what the new Labor Government, through its Minister Peter Toyne, proclaimed in August 2001: “Labor [will] open up the town planning process, shrink the powers of the Minister to override the Development Authority, make it fully representative, give it a much greater autonomy from the Minister, and link it much more closely to local government."
NOTE: There are 1512 lots in Alice Springs in zone SD (single dwelling) over 1,000sqm. These are proposed to qualify for a second dwelling.
[Declaration of interest: The author of this report is a rural resident, a long time member of the ASRAA and an objector to the application.]
PHOTO: Approximate outline of the block to be subdivided. Google Earth.
Darryl Pearce, who was recently sacked as the CEO of companies which are carrying out the Mt Johns real estate development, apparently still has a hand in the multi million dollar project.
He is the secretary of Lhere Artepe Pty Ltd which – directly or indirectly – appears to be the owner of all the entities bearing a name including the words Lhere Artepe, the town's native title organisation.
This includes the private companies tied up in the multi-million dollar Mt Johns development.
But late today, Michael Liddle (pictured), listed as a director of Lhere Artepe Pty Ltd, said: "I have never signed an agreement to join the company's board.
"The board has never met. As far as I know, there are other directors in the same position as me." PHOTO: Current advertising promoting the land as "re-released" after considerable delays. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
There is land for 860 dwellings in various stages of development in Alice Springs, yet if you wanted to buy a residential block you'd be pushed to find one. And this is counting only 150 dwellings in Kilgariff which will ultimately provide 4500.
Nothing illustrates more how dysfunctional the town's land development "system" is, a key reason for the current exodus of productive, middle-class families.
The biggest major projects – Coolibah Estate, Emily Valley and White Gums – are foundering or are being delayed while at the other end of the spectrum are projects that would make a mining camp appear a leafy suburb (see drawing).
What is a housing block worth? There are so few available that it's difficult to tell.
The hard numbers are for blocks in Stirling Heights, says veteran real estate man Doug Fraser, which went for an average $120,000 in 2006, and Albrecht Drive for an average of $150,000 in 2009.
He says most of the world's towns and cities grow from their fringes: Alice did with Larapinta, Morris Soak, Dixon Road, New Eastside, Sadadeen.
Native title put a stop to this process although the government – as the Opposition tirelessly pointed out – had options of putting the public good ahead of the demands of a minority.
Instead of taking advantage of the vast amount of space around the town, developers had to buy up "infill" such as old caravan parks, at a massive cost, and the residential land crisis was born. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
Nice little earner: Aboriginal owners of private land get, at taxpayers’ expense, essential services – schools, clinics, police stations, and so on. Most would not argue with this. But now they will also get rent, from the taxpayer, for the land on which those services are set up. Indigenous Development Minister, Malarndirri McCarthy (pictured), calls this an "historic decision [which] lays the foundation for a proper working relationship between Land Councils, Aboriginal traditional owners and the Northern Territory Government".
Meanwhile Senator Nigel Scullion says Intervention Mark II is a sign of the failure of Mark I, Shadow Child Protection Minister Robyn Lambley alleges a bid to hide child abuse and Shadow Tourism Minister Willem Westra van Holthe
claims the government is doing not enough to reverse the fall in tourist numbers.