The planning debacle is not a simple, single issue, problem! When …

Comment on Housing crisis as 860 dwellings are in development by Steve Brown.

The planning debacle is not a simple, single issue, problem!
When land release was first halted as government wrestled with the native title issue it didn’t take long for the greedy, the speculators amongst us to realize that land restriction meant escalating house prices.
Lobbyists, landlords, homeowners throughout our bureaucracies soon saw it as being in their interest to shut off land supply. Government, always willing to withhold funds, enthusiastically endorsed that policy expressing a heartfelt wish to protect people’s investments.
Trouble is with this kind of self-centered greed driven approach like any pyramid scheme is that when you push prices high enough you eventually reach a point of un-affordability where your workers, the ones you rely on to do the chores and pay the rent, can’t afford to stay. They begin to leave in droves, the result of which we now see in Alice, a collapsing economy.
Missing from the list of projects displayed in this article is the proposed White Gums Sub division of 500 allotments. This project ticked all the boxes through the planning process, enjoyed enormous public support, had some 200 prospective buyers waiting enthusiastically in the wings. Yet against the wishes and the hopes and dreams of many passionate Centralians the scheme was bought to a grinding halt by Minister Delia Lawrie with the following statement: “The government feels that Alice Springs infrastructure is not presently capable of supporting a project of this size, we will review the situation in 18 months.” That was four years ago. That project was worth in the vicinity of $200 million to the town’s economy. How much better a situation would Alice be in now if this and all the projects knocked back or halted for no good reason over the past eight years had gone ahead. How much better placed would we have been to weather the coming storm? The past eight years of deplorable government have seen a massive escalation not only in house prices but in regulation, requirements, hurdles, fees and charges that have to be payed or jumped before any project can begin.
Many are illogical and absurd, many put into place with the deliberate intention of slowing or bringing these projects to an end.
The drainage requirements described in this article are a blatant example of what is utterly ridiculous and completely unnecessary, but doing the intended job … halting the project.
PAWA have also played a huge part in bringing development to halt, automatically objecting to every new project, deliberately setting the bar too high, advising the Minister against proceeding with projects as they see all new infrastructures as a threat to their bottom line’
PAWA thinks that shows how gloriously well they operate as a supposedly private business.
The new and by far the most effective game used by our bureaucracies to stifle developments is the practice of “not setting the bar at all” – a continual repositioning of the goalposts whenever you get near.
The article mentions the 81 unit retirement village at White Gums. The latest government ploy for that project 18 months on, is to demand a completely designed sewage system for the project. This is an enormously expensive thing to do. Because the department demands it now without giving any guarantee they’ll subsequently approve the project, the developer has to gamble on the project going ahead and spend the money [for the design and planning – ED].
With a project approval rate of zero would you spend the money? The sad result for Alice from demands like this is that this and other projects are extremely unlikely to proceed. Once again Alice Springs loses out! And yet out there in the public space the minister is busily talking up retirement villages, and how they’re working with business to get some! Sabotage would be a much better description of their procedures!
How do we fix it? Elect strong leadership! Demand forward thinking! Deregulate, scrap the red tape! Get affordable housing into the market place ASAP! Bring in incentive schemes for long term stayers, schemes such as buying up or building affordable houses, renting them at affordable rates.
Good tenants who stay five years have the right to purchase at cost, automatically qualifying for NT government loans with all the previous five years rent being converted to a deposit against the purchase price.
Give our kids, our workers some incentive to stay! When we do our economy will rebuild! It’s is also a matter of great imperative that we lobby whatever government is in power to bring PAWA back into the fold.
Back directly under the minister’s control as part of a new Department of Planning and Infrastructure that actually has the in-house expertise required to develop the Territory into the foreseeable future.
The privatized model simply does not cut it when because of continual growth large capital input is required on a continual basis. The present privatized model results in PAWA finding it in their interest to work directly against the Territory’s development, particularly in areas viewed as being more expensive to operate – and that is outside Darwin!

Recent Comments by Steve Brown

Wakefield insists on Anzac Oval, ignores majority
The longer this process goes on the more likely we are to lose it altogether. That’s a loss of $150m into our economy, just on build!
The government has made up its mind on the site. That’s their right! That’s what we elect them for, to make what they see as the best decision, on our behalf!
So, while about 4% of the population whinge about it, and try to foil the process, keep this in mind.
If it doesn’t go ahead at Anzac there will be no new rugby grounds! Another $20m to $30m.
There will be no amphitheatre or the CBD space to put one. Another $3m to $4m.
We will miss out on an expansion of CBD parking. Millions more!
And we will miss the opportunity to create much increased foot traffic into the CBD and the resulting growth in small business. Millions more.
There is now very little chance of it going anywhere else. It will either go at the Anzac Hill site or we will lose it altogether!
Federal Politicians looking for an excuse to fund it in South Australia have been handed exactly what they want, local dissent!
It shouldn’t take much more to tip the scales, if the damage hasn’t already been done.
If we believe in our community, if we want to grow our economy, create opportunity for ourselves and our children into the future we have to be prepared to accept change, to put our petty likes and dislikes along with what often amounts to rather shallow competitive political viewpoints aside for the greater good.
To put it bluntly, “suck it up and stand aside in support of the best obtainable outcome for our community!
Let’s not cut off our nose to spite our face!

The millions and the misery
Interesting article that this may be, I would not like to see discussion centred around the ins and out of funding to various Aboriginal organisations being conflated in anyway with our discussions around funding and locating our proposed youth centre.
We are attempting to get a whole of community approach to this!
That approach, if it is to be successful, will most certainly include the organisations mentioned.
While we clearly share everyone’s enthusiasm for the Old Memo Club as an ideal site for our centre and have said so publicly on a number of occasions, the fact remains that this is the legally owned property of Centercorp and the only way that we could possibly acquire it for the centre is if these organisations believe in our cause and choose to come on board, something that I very much encourage them to do.
My apologies Centrecorp and Congress if we have caused inconvenience, we were “dreaming” our best possible options for getting something off the ground, ASAP.
We fervently hope in the interests of this community’s children you will give the promoted concept some very serious consideration and come to understand as many already have, the true value to the community, and all your investment in it
It is having a happy, healthy, united community where kids know they are cared for and see exciting future prospects in front of them, with staff, volunteers and mentors from our new centre showing the way.

Memo Club for 24/7 youth centre?
@ Evelyne: No, definitely too far from CBD and don’t think the neighbours would be to keen.
The bed requirement part of the concept is “emergency bed requirement” only, as per “Careful’s” comment probably not a large demand for it. We could manage with temporary facilities and grow after assessing demand.
I imagine that most kids would catch the bus at the cessation of evening activities. The most important part of this centre will be kitchen, dining and activities which would also clearly encompass such things as after school care.
As for existing facilities: This is not a petty competition nor are we interested in the petty politics of those more interested in protecting their own backsides than looking after children.
Let’s deal with the basic facts: Governments of all persuasions have struggled with this issue for 50 years or so. They have funded and de-funded all manner of organisations in the process!
And they have failed.
Yes, there are existing organisation who have cross over interests.
However, we still have the issue.
In fact it is a large growing generational issue, at times literally hundreds of kids hanging about on our streets, growing crime and increasing isolation, increasing division, increasing us and them, increasing have and have not and increasing community anger and resentment.
The concept of bringing kids and community members, not just street kids into a central location, is not just about food and activities, it is about containing the hanging out to a really “cool” location and it is about cross community interaction.
Breaking down the division!
It is about rebuilding a community out of a rapidly growing divide that threatens its very foundations.
The issue is far greater than the petty self interests of a few professional youth workers who feel someone is intruding on their turf!
If your a genuine committed professional youth worker you will know the value of the community interaction too which I refer and you will get on board.
This is not a government initiative, it is a community movement, the only ones in the end who can really make a difference.
And not just for neglected kids, not just for underprivileged kids, but for all the kids in our community, which in the end means a difference for all of us!
We envisage that those centres already working in this area would come on board and work with us, probably moving their services into the central complex or maintain offices there, or doing pick ups and drop offs so that everybody’s together, part of the activity and excitement, of things going on: That is what we want to create.
We have said all along, while we are looking at a community youth centre driven by volunteers it would also incorporate professional management and youth workers.
This is about everybody in the sector putting aside selfish interest and uniting to bring about effective change.
It’s about making a massive difference to a whole lot of young lives and making our community a whole lot happier place to live for everybody.

Memo Club for 24/7 youth centre?
While I share the enthusiasm for getting our priorities right and dealing with our Youth issue first up, projects such as the art gallery are equally important in building a successful community … no economy, no people, no funds or assistance for a centre.
So we aren’t looking to swap one for another, we are looking to do both and more!
Importantly I can report to you that I am running into a great deal of support for the youth centre project from all sectors and I don’t think we are going to have to many issues funding this project, even with the art centre going ahead.
The cross community support I have encountered so far leads me to believe we are going to be successful in getting the project off the ground.
My real concern at this stage is the amount of time it will take to do that!
Obviously if we can’t find an existing facility of the right size and location i.e. the Memo Club there is likely to be a period of at least a couple of years before we can build and be operational.
This is a really urgent issue, requiring immediate action, especially when you think of those two years through the eyes of an eight year old child virtually living on the streets.
Two years is a lifetime, and for that matter for a town being battered by a street kid crime wave, two years is also an eternity!
So clearly we need to act and act now! All ideas are welcome but we must have large open space kitchen and dining, multiple toilets / bathrooms to cater for several hundred kids in a central well lit location.

Memo Club for 24/7 youth centre?
We were always aware that Congress had intentions for the Old Memo Club and our project certainly doesn’t hinge on being able to get our hands on those premises.
I put it forward as a potential location so that everyone would understand the desired CBD location, building size and layout that our proposed Centre requires, large open areas, dining and kitchen facilities – very much like the Memo Club.
This of course would have been ideal if it were available.
So if you change your mind Congress, there’s a lot of kids who would greatly appreciate it.
In the meantime I imagine we will be looking for temporary premises to get things underway while we raise the funds to build to our design.

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