The 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. Chandler has proposed an amendment to what he calls unnecessary red tape that will be placed on public exhibition for a period of 28 days.

Chandler says the current restrictions only hamper investment and development, he went on to state:

darwin “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.

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According to the Minister, the restrictions don’t only present an obstacle to investment but also creates hindrances architectural and planning. The article on also explained:

 “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.

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The restriction was introduced in 2009 by the Labor government in response to a request by the RAAF to permit optimal access for its aircrafts entering Darwin International Airport however there has been pressure mounting to do away with the cap on CBD developments.

It should be noted that the airport is mainly a RAAF facility but also serves private and commercial aircraft.

There have been numerous calls for the restrictions to be lifted including from the Northern Territory Real Estate Institute chief executive officer Quentin Kilian who earlier this year labelled the height limits as unnecessary. He also said it was a key factor holding back innovative development of the Darwin downtown area. Kilian went on to state:

“Quite frankly, if you have got a $3 billion aircraft and you can’t fly around a building, get a new job,” said Kilian.

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If the height limits are lifted by the Territory’s government, buildings whose heights exceed 90 metres will still require the approval of the Department of Defence. They would also require the approval of civil aviation authorities.

Removing the height restrictions aren’t the only motivation behind Chandler’s actions, he also hopes a more innovative development culture will be promoted by giving more authority to the Development Consent Authority (DCA) to alter the requirements of the Planning Scheme for building design. He believes the changes in restrictions will be good for the economy by promoting investments. He went on to explan:

“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.”

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