Darwin Regional Land Use Plan
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DARWIN REGIONAL LAND USE PLAN 2015 4 Plan Context Darwin is the seat of government and capital city of the Northern Territory and as such has a similar status to the nations state capitals. Although progress on constitutional change has been painstakingly slow, many still promote Statehood for the Northern Territory and continue to work towards that goal. In that context, it is valid to consider Darwin as the capital city of a future fully-fledged state. The Australian Governments inquiry into the Development of Northern Australia enhances the strategic location of Darwin as the natural capital of Northern Australia as well as of the Northern Territory. The Australian Governments vision to further the economic development of Northern Australia will contribute to maintaining the momentum of recent growth associated with major private and public investment in the region. As Darwins population grows in step with continuing regional development, services will be expanded and business, trade and other opportunities increased, reinforcing the status and important role of the region and city on a national and global front. For Darwin, strategically placed as Australias closest capital city to Asia, high quality regional planning is vital. Plan Purpose The key purpose of this Darwin Regional Land Use Plan 2015 is to identify the essential characteristics and needs that will shape future development in the region and establish an overarching framework for that development. The plan presents a broad rational foundation for long term use and development of land and other natural resources, highlighting key regional policies that respond to the immediate and foreseeable issues associated with the regions natural environment and the human communities within it. Some people contend that preparing long term land use plans is unjustified because predictions are too uncertain. Others claim that long term plans irresponsibly promote growth and development that has the potential to damage the environment or existing lifestyles. Historical experience demonstrates, however, that waiting for absolute certainty debilitates strategic thinking, so that communities inherit actions that should have been avoided while necessary actions are overlooked. The most rational approach to land use planning is to establish a broad framework to guide responses to probable or even possible future circumstances. Neglecting planning is irresponsible, inviting poor outcomes for both the environment and regional development. Land use plans for any region should be dynamic, not static, so they can be refined as certainty about future needs increases and actual development nears its starting date. This essential flexibility is distinct from, and should not be confused with, the chaos of unplanned futures, or the lack of timely action to preserve longer term strategic objectives and their planned outcomes. The Planning Act (NT) and the Northern Territory Planning Scheme regulate the use and development of land in the Darwin Region. Schedule 2 of the NT Planning Scheme provides the opportunity to incorporate policies to guide interpretation of the provisions of the scheme. Area Plans in Part 8 of the scheme identify more fine grained policy in relation to the expected nature of future development to further guide the interpretation of the scheme. Incorporation of the Darwin Regional Land Use Plan 2015 in Schedule 2 of the scheme will establish a policy framework for the future development of the Darwin Region. In addition to providing guidance to the interpretation of the provisions of the scheme, the plan will also inform more detailed Area Plans for particular localities. The preparation of Area Plans and their inclusion in the scheme will influence specific zones and will also be subject to further public consultation. Given that timeliness and currency is imperative to the relevance of all levels of planning, it is envisaged that the Darwin Regional Land Use Plan 2015 will be subject to review in response to future growth or other changing circumstances. Plan Evolution Functions of the Northern Territory Planning Commission include consultation with the community to inform the preparation of integrated strategic plans for inclusion in the NT Planning Scheme. The Commissions development of a draft Land Use Plan for the Darwin Region involved an extensive process including: consideration of the strategic directions established by Framing the Future - the NT Governments Strategic Plan review of past documents of relevance to the future development in the region including the Greater Darwin Plan 2012 (drafted but not finalized by the Henderson ALP government) and Planning for Greater Darwin - A Dynamic Harbour City (A discussion paper published in 2010 by the CLP in Opposition) release of a Briefing Note and a subsequent brochure Towards a Darwin Regional Land Use Plan 2014 presenting the thinking in relation to feedback received in response to the Briefing Note release of a draft Darwin Regional Land Use Plan 2014 followed by stakeholder briefings and public displays and invitations for submissions consideration of feedback and preparation of and submission of a final draft to the Minister of Lands and Planning with a request that he consider amending the NT Planning Scheme to include the plan as a policy. The Minister chose to amend the plan received from the Commission before exhibiting it as a proposed planning scheme amendment in early 2015. This formal process provided a further opportunity for community feedback and minor alterations to the plan responded to the feedback received and the Darwin Regional Land Use Plan 2015 is now included as a policy document within the NT Planning Scheme.
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