Sunday, 11 May 2014



The City of Darwin Council is planning for the future, outlaying hundreds of thousands of dollars on master and sub plans.  This to me is a worry, for reasons included in my response to the planning concept.  Residents were invited to respond by April 16, 2014.

I have been a Darwin resident since January 1987.


As a long time Territory resident I have concerns about the way in with the City of Darwin Council  pays substantial money for plan after plan after plan. Tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on plans at all levels of government for concepts which are often 'pie in the sky' and never eventuate. Further, when developments under one play are put in place, they are often transcended by further plans. This means development and infrastructure that goes into place is replaced under the recommendations of succeeding plans. Darwin's Mall is a prime example of this policy.

One of the paradox factors about all this has to with people commissioning plans, without taking into account previous and often recent planning concepts. This is due in part to the rapid throughput of people who come to the Territory, take up posts in prime positions and determine to do things 'their way'. Often little time is taken to study what has gone before. Neither is account taken of why previous plans have failed to deliver projected outcomes.

It seems to me that authorities and governments indulge in commissioning plans for the sake of planning.


The realities of Darwin City need to be confronted, and in a proactive way that goes beyond planning. The following to me and many others stand out as testament to this assertion.

* Darwin City Mall is essentially dead. Time and again huge dollars have been thrown at mall development for little if any positive outcome. Business fronts are discouraging and the emphasis appears to be on selling product appealing to tourists.  While there is some life and pedestrian traffic in the mall during working hours, the mall after hours is quite dead.  It is hardly better on the weekends.

Business might be better if tourist ships and other groups were provided for more adequately; however, business owners have told me that often tourists but very little from stores. There are a lot of other attractions for these visitors who are here only temporarily - here this morning and gone by mid afternoon.

It is also true to say that an off-putting factor is that of the client group often occupying the mall. This is one of the things we must not talk about for fear of demeaning others and for the reprisals factual statements of this nature may bring.

There is more to planning that building structure. part of hat planning has to be the anticipation of how facilities will be appreciated and used by people.

* The conduct of people using facilities probable remains outside the scope of any forward planning. It should be included. Apart from the mall, there is the issue of conduct by those using Mitchell Street at night. The incidences of behaviour of patrons of clubs and pubs hardly leaves the pages of our press , not the screens disseminating news bulletins. It does not matter how good facilities are and how 'progressive' planning for the future might be : If people shun the city for reasons suggested then negative outcomes are  a consequence.

* Darwin is like unto a city of two parts. The CBD and the suburbs hardly have anything in common.  On weekday mornings people flock into the city for work because the CBD is the place for business. From 4.00 pm they begin fleeing city. The mall goes dead and Mitchell Street gradually becomes a mass of people drawn to entertainment and watering holes and often with scant regard for decency and decorum. 

The juxtaposition is that rates paid by darwin's permanent residents are often  applied to fund initiatives that have little direct benefit to them as ratepayers.

*  The issue of infrastructural maintenance is one that needs more priority than it presently receives. Plans tend to look to the future, are often more visionary that real and simply overlook the need to carefully maintain what we already have. Building facades is hardly the way to go.


Over the years the Darwin City Council, now the City of darwin Council has commissioned plan after plan after plan.  i suspect that in earlier years, that planning was done largely from within council staffing resources. In more recent times, the commissioning of plans has made whoopee for consultants, designers and others who have extracted huge dollars from council budgets to create their futuristic impressions.

Too often, plans to which massive dollars are subscribed come to nothing. hey sit on shelves to gather dust. Later they are transferred to archives. Then along come new Alderman and new staff who start on the need for plans all over again.

Local and Territory Governments have spent millions and millions of dollars on plans that, once tabled, are shelved. Planning costs re massive, implementation minimal, and real benefit miniscule.


Henry Gray 

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