By chance I met with a director of Yeperenye Pty …

Comment on Looking good! by Mike Gillam.

By chance I met with a director of Yeperenye Pty Ltd on Tuesday, December 6 and raised the subject of the ANZ carpark. I discussed current plans to upgrade pedestrian amenity in the eastern portion of Parsons street and the two-way benefits of integrating businesses with the adjacent public domain.
I suggested the loss of red gums from the car-park (identified as a stepping point in the sightline to the river *) had triggered a re-thinking of landscaping proposed for the street. Essentially the eastern end of Parsons Street is now a blank canvas.
I highlighted the importance of DESIGN incorporating low maintenance trees that would bring architectural form and rhythm to the car park boundary on Parsons Street and the corner facing Leichhardt Tce.
I sought to influence only the primary trees because these represent a long-term investment in the street. Decorative shrubs and secondary trees are less critical. I suggested the slender trunked Eucalyptus thozetiana as a group planting. This attractive endemic can be planted close together so the compact, high canopies touch and form useful shade but still allow some penetration of low angled winter sunlight onto the opposite (southern) side of the street. In addition to winter sunlight the virtual absence of low branches provides clear sight lines that enhance public safety especially where footpaths and car-parking cross-overs intersect.
A few hours later I was able to show two people from Yeperenye management what can be achieved with this species and answer their questions concerning building maintenance issues. They were satisfied with my advice and urged me to ring their landscaping contractor who was preparing to install plants the very next day.
I met with the landscaper early Wednesday morning and to cut a long story short he was very reasonable and flexible. He had already purchased his selection of plants and these were on site. None-the-less he cheerfully agreed to adjust some of his planting scheme at very short notice – I drove to a nursery and they gave us their best stock at a “community development” price. If the tree guards work 10 Eucalyptus thozetiana will grace the street and create three elegant focal points on the boundary between the car-park and footpaths. Within five years they will visibly soften the many hard surfaces and in 12-15 years they will expand the vision of the street and lift our gaze.
In the rich alluvial soil these seedlings should grow quickly and as mature trees they will collectively pump thousands of litres of water each day to cool their leaves. Unlike grass lawns these living pumps will provide a direct and tangible benefit to the adjacent Todd River with its elevated water table. Unlike grass lawns they won’t need constant watering beyond an initial establishment period. While design on the run is not ideal I’d like to thank those generous people who modified their private development plans in an attempt to integrate with, and enhance, the public domain.
* footnote: “… Protect existing mature red gums including those in the car-park behind ANZ. Visually these provide a vital stepping point in the sight line between the ancient red gum and the red gum community in the Todd River …” from “Revealing the Spirit of Parsons Street (2011)”.

Recent Comments by Mike Gillam

Melanka building would obscure unequalled backdrop
While I broadly support the views of the writer, I’d like to correct what is clearly a typo.
The building height limit in the CBD is 14 m. not 8.5m, and for the record, I won’t be making a submission to the NT Planning Commission, a Statutory Authority advising the NT Government on planning matters including building heights in Alice Springs because I don’t regard the public consultation process as genuine.
Recent calls by the Chief Minister for expressions of interest in the development of land at Whittaker Street, just outside the western boundary of the CBD and in an area with a LOWER height limit, makes a mockery of this public consultation.
The artist’s impression shows a building that dramatically exceeds the stated limit for this area, from memory, not even 14 m but currently 8.5m.
Of course, the nature of legislation, regulations and town plans may be subject to the extraordinary powers granted to the responsible Minister who can always find some justification.
In closing I would give credit to the NT Planning Commission for its recognition of the value of protecting some critical east west sight-lines across the CBD.
However the town’s future shape and collective massing of buildings will be determined to a large extent by the uncoordinated actions of individual developers and politicians in the decades ahead.
Ultimately this is a game of chance and DESIGN, that elusive collective vision for Alice Springs, appears to be taking a back seat in the process. As a struggling tourist town we can and should do much better.

Festival broadens ambitions of Alice Cinema
At a time when the town’s commercial centre is under great stress we are very fortunate to have such dynamic and progressive people directing the cinema complex.

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the tip …
Delightfully zany, elegant, rigorously conceived and resolved, an asset to the landfill and the town. Congratulations to the artist for her uncompromising effort and those on the Town Council who placed their faith in her and dared to make this happen. I hope the obvious quality of this public art has raised the confidence of decision makers and they feel vindicated to do it again with equal rigour. Perhaps in time, as the town’s artistic side is further highlighted and revealed we may regain some of our reputation as a tourist mecca.

Dancers take over after dark
Not denying there is an equivalent need for the hard core stories but surely this is the Alice Springs News at its very best.I’m kicking myself for missing the event.

Residency is at risk, says heritage group
Hal, where to start…If you peddle misinformation some readers might hyperventilate. But I think you’re ignoring the elephant in the room here…no-one likes their time being wasted and that’s how I feel trying to unravel your torrent of opinion and innuendo. Time prevents me from responding to more of your posts. It’s not simply that you distort reality by describing The Residency as “…current inactive state…” or that it’s preposterous and insulting to say, “Have you considered that Heritage Alice Springs’ dogmatic approach to these matters contributed to the Old Riverside not being given Heritage listing?” What an outrageous example of shoot the messenger by some-one who has not seen the nomination by HAS. But wait there’s more, “…I often think the heritage crowd exceed their brief…” Really? They’re the main reason you can cite the example of the Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame at its fantastic heritage location. And again, “…We don’t have very many buildings worth listing. Too many tin sheds, and who really cares…” Your regard for vernacular architecture including sheds is out of step with rising national interest and ignores much of the development history of Alice Springs.
PS Re. leasing the Residency for use as a cafe, I reiterate the issue of onsite car-parking. From memory, 6 parks are required for every 100m2 of net floor area and any alfresco dining areas – so I’m guessing this site would have to at least double the existing parks – this reasonable condition may be waived by the Minister BUT it’s in the best commercial interests of cafe owners to provide viable parking to lessen the impact on the street during periods of peak trade. And no, the idea that a new venture would be allowed to free-load on existing public car-parking is unlikely to win much support. The RFDS has it all, why try to replicate that experience with less at the Residency?

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