Can Darwin CBD Break Its Height Shackles?

Darwin city might be soon looking up as 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.

Mr Chandler has proposed an amendment to be placed on public exhibition for a 28-day period.

“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,” Mr Chandler told Sourceable.

Chandler said the height curb presents a significant barrier to investment and development, and also inhibits architecture and planning.

“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.

Pressure has long been building to scrap the cap on CBD developments introduced in 2009 by the Labor government in response to a request from the RAAF to permit optimal access for its aircraft seeking access to Darwin International Airport.

In addition to scrapping the height curb, Chandler also hopes to foster more innovative development by conferring greater authority upon the Development Consent Authority (DCA) to alter the requirements of the Planning Scheme for building design.

“This will allow the DCA some flexibility in recognising that a development may have found a better way of reaching design requirements,” Chandler 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.”

If the Territory government remove the height restrictions, buildings whose heights exceed 90 metres will still require the approval of the Department of Defence as well as other civil aviation authorities on a case by case basis.

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