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Masterful Plan for Darwin's CBD

The secret is out!  Darwin’s Central Business District has the opportunity to develop in line with a new blueprint which has been prepared by consultants working with the City of Darwin, the Northern Territory Government and the Federal Government.

 It is unfortunate that some of the media coverage relating to the Masterplan has so far been focussed on quirky, but relatively small components on the plan, such as the idea of providing cooling along covered walkways by circulating air from underground.  In truth the plan also includes a wide range of important and imaginative proposals for Darwin’s CBD which will have far-reaching implications for our city’s future.  The Urban Development Institute of Australia (NT) believes it is a masterful plan for several reasons:

  • The consultation process has been exhaustive and highly professional.  The term “world class” comes to mind, and the effectiveness of the consultation is demonstrated by the high level of acceptance of the draft Masterplan by various community sectors; 
  • The research process has also been exhaustive and has identified elements of Darwin that would probably have been thought to have been long dead, but are being proposed as having relevance in our modernised version of the city (for example a safe, enclosed swimming area on the beach below Parliament House).  Research work has also included spatial mapping, a retail study and a landscaping study.
  • There is an element of creative genius in the proposals for re-opening old road alignments and creating new links into the city, which will enhance Darwin’s aesthetic appeal, and also create new opportunities for developments which will be in harmony with, as well as support, the other elements of the plan (for example developments which are keeping with the various precincts which have been identified as part of the Masterplanning process).
  • The imaginatively designed Aboriginal Cultural Centre proposed to be developed in the Brown’s Mart vicinity will provide an excellent new venue for tourists and local citizens alike.
  • An extensive walking / cycling track around the perimeter of the CBD will provide shaded areas for CBD residents and visitors to use when exercising, and will become an important tourist facility.
  • UDIA (NT) also believes that the new walking track proposed to be established in the green area along the Esplanade, with provision for a large playground for use by the growing number of families living in the CBD, is an excellent idea.
  • Parliament House environs have been identified as having the potential for significant new landscaping works to highlight the architectural features of our house of Government, made possible by placing existing car parks underground.  Re-connection of Bennett Street along its original alignment to the Esplanade, has also been proposed as part of this proposal.
  • The proposed relocation of the current Bus Transit hub to a more appropriate location, will not only allow for re-design of the Cavenagh Street frontage of the City of Darwin offices, but will also provide much-needed space for new facilities in the CBD.
  • Precincts for different types of activities have been identified (for example tourism, retail, office, residential and community), allowing future developments to progressively enhance and complement existing facilities for those uses.
  • Provision of shade / shelter on walkways linking key parking centres will encourage greater use of the CBD for shopping, providing an important impetus for retail activities.
  • Elegant entrance areas with majestic trees proposed for a realigned Daly Street entrance and a new entrance from Tiger Brennan Drive, will add to the visual appeal of the city when visitors first arrive, enhancing the tropical feel and image of Darwin.
  • The needs of young people have also been heard and new facilities for skateboarding have been proposed.

UDIA (NT) congratulates Steve Thorne from Design Urban and his team, including Jane Munday from Michels Warren Munday, for the highly professional way in which they have approached the complex task of preparing a Masterplan for Darwin’s CBD.

The plan has already gained approval from significant sectors of the community; now we need the City of Darwin and the NT Government to sign on to using this masterful blueprint to guide the future development of our harbour city over the coming two decades.