Below the tree line, but …


“I have to pinch myself when I realise we live in the best part of Australia,” says Sandy Taylor. “I love the uniqueness – the fact that I can see the country and not just the buildings.”

Sandy is an Alice Springs Town Council alderman and one of two Council’s nominees on the Development Consent Authority, which in a couple of weeks time will have the ominous task of deciding whether the town of Alice Springs should go in a new direction:  up.  The Authority will recommend to the Planning Minister Delia Lawrie whether she should say yea or nay to a group of  five storey buildings, a full two storeys, or four and a half metres, above the town’s current 14 metre height limit. The buildings, if completed, would provide 120 apartments, some serviced, The target residential group  is “professionals, hospital staff and mine workers.”

In this debate, as in the last one more than 20 years ago, proponents of breaking the height limit will talk about judging buildings on their merits. They will talk about urban sprawl, and the high cost of land in Alice Springs and the importance of developers getting value out of a block.

But what will determine our support or opposition to this proposal is ultimately a question of our individual perspectives. Effective planning – which, unfortunately, Alice Springs has never had – could deliver accomodation for residents and business, and allow developers to make money. The accomodation shortage the town faces, as the real estate industry has told us so consistently, has been caused by insufficient land release. This particular land has already been released. And even then the developers are hedging their bets about it. Their project proposal consists of a series of buildings which will be erected sequentially according to demand, beginning at the northern end of the block – “allowing flexibility as the land and sales market in Alice Springs may dicate.”

Surely a series of three storey buildings would be more likely to meet the as yet unestablished level of demand.

This debate is not about being for or against development, as two anonymous letter-writers suggest in the Centralian Advocate today. It’s about how we and our visitors experience the town of Alice Springs. Do we , like Sandy Taylor, pinch ourselves when we see the MacDonnell ranges – or Billygoat Hill – or Annie Meyers Hill – or the gums of the Todd River  – as we walk or cycle or drive around the town? Are these views worth giving up, as the next proposal goes even higher and the question of its architectural merit becomes somehow less important, when there is no longer a height limit?

Alderman Brendan Heenan is the other town council nominee on the authority. Like Sandy, he grew up here, but his benchmark is lower – or higher – depending on how you look at it.

“I haven’t seen the full proposal yet,” alderman Brendan Heenan told me on the weekend. But he said, “as long it’s below the tree line and doesn’t destroy the view of the ranges from Anzac Hill”,  it was worth considering.

Fair enough. But how often do we look at the view from Anzac Hill? We  love the view and we appreciate it because we see it so rarely.

I have to admit I don’t always pinch myself when I see massive amounts of blue sky and glimpses of the countryside as I go about my business. Sometimes they’re just the background music.  But I know they  – and not the architecture – were the first thing that inspired me about the town when I first came here from a big city thirty years ago. I’m still here, and so far, so are they.

Dave Richards


31 Responses to “Below the tree line, but …”

  1. Trevor Shiell Says:

    After looking closely at the communiity market at Kuranda in Queensland and Willunga , in South Australia over the last year or so, i think it would be a great pity to have the Melanka site turned into a high density housing estate, just like in any other city, no matter what the height restrictions are. The KUranda market in particular focuses on things that are tourist oriented to th e district, and pull most of t heir customers from Cairns via the skyway. The Willunga set up is more a growers marrket such like those so popular with tourists in SE ASia and the Mindel market is a great example of what can be done with a bit of flair imagination, and entreperneurship and alonger term view. I would like to see the space under the proposed development reserved fora growers /tourist open market place , timed to co incide with the arival of the Ghan trains and serviced by community bus from the railway station.(its a disgrace that arrivals on the Ghan have to make their way on foot into town, bec ause the transport industry find short trips financially unattractive) and airport, just as the Kuranda set up does.
    As well as that if such a building is to go ahead, PL:EASE dont make it a conventional city type residential development , but make it a showplace for what can be done environmentally in this climate. I suggest that planners visit the Frauhoffer web site (in Germany) to see what can be done to conserve energy within the buildings. They may not be aware that 40% of the energy consumption in a building is used in artificially conditioning the air inside it. Please dont replicate the environmental mistakes at the DK precinct. The Fraunhoffer institute has made huge steps in reducing this, with solar energy, of which we have plenty, being the driving force. Also a friend some time ago had the brilliant concept of covering a Melbourne city building with green plant material ,a concept which has since been hijacked, but should be done here, using re cycled water. The extra cost of making the structure environmentally up to date, I suggest would be easily covered by Internatinal interest in such a building, and possible commercial flow ons. I suspect this concept would immediately be knocked on the head because the real estate and other interests cant see past the next large bank deposit and that has to be tomorrow. There are lots more to this life than money and short term gains. Lets all think further ahead than just another building.

  2. Jane Clark Says:

    Did anyone see Friday 16th Advocate Real Estate Section? A huge ad posted by NT Government talking about new land releases and INCLUDING the Melanka development!

    Surely NTG can’t appear to endorse the Melanka development when it’s currently before the Development Consent Authority? Does anyone know whether this is allowed?

  3. Eugene Ragghianti Says:

    Dear Editor and old friend Dave Richards

    I write to you from the temptations of Tuscany. Alice is dear to me as
    I spent three festivals there.

    I am against any high building developments in Alice. The idea is
    totally ridiculous! 14 metres/3 storeys are enough surely in the
    middle of the desert. BASTA. Have high rise developers and sharkey
    city types finally arrived in Todd Mall sipping coffee?


  4. Linda Wells Says:

    Jane, I don’t know if it’s allowed for the NTG to go bragging about the proposed Melanka thing before it’s been sent back to the drawing board to be lowered to an appropriate height!!! The old CLP government used to do it all the time, endorse proposed developments and take out advertisemetns supporting them before they even had approval. it’s unethical and that’s what the opposition used to foerever be pointing out to them. I thought that was all in the bad old days but that’s another story isn’t it?
    Alice Springs can stick to the 3 storey limit AND have appropriate development. It’s not like we have to be dictated to by developers in the fear that if we make any rules for the wellbeing and goodness of our town that they won’t play. What sort of rules are they? I love development, I love new buildings and appropriate, tasteful architecture. I would love to see more accommodation for the workforce this town can support and for all the people from the bush who are choosing to live here. But we are allowed to have standards. This anti-development accusation is old fashioned and boring. I am pro tasteful, contemporary insightful development, all possible I’m sure. And I am opposed to the breaking of the three storey building limit. The ranges and the trees are too special. There are a whole lot of other creative, intelligent possibilities for how more accommodation can be developed. Let’s go for a 3 storey development on the old Melanka site that doesnt’ involve removing those beautiful trees on the block.

  5. Domenico Pecorari Says:

    I think the planners are going about this “arse-about”, in that, FIRSTLY, we should have the debate about whether we want hi-rise in the town and, if so, where should this be limited to. We should be changing the regulations first, not changing the regulations to suit individual building proposals.
    This project, at this point in time, does NOT comply with the the NT Planning Scheme height restriction and should not even be considered, full stop.
    I would be just a strongly in favour of this particular project if it was changed to conform with the current 14 metre height limit.

    Some recent arguments I’ve heard from the few people I know that are in favour of the project include:

    1. “Anything less than the 5-storeys proposed would not be economically viable”
    Well, I do not think that owners of two and three-storey buildings in the CBD are losing money. If this argument was true, then Yeperenye, who recently built a two-storey extension to the the Yeperenye Shopping Centre (also two-storey), must have rocks in their heads. The push for five-storeys says more about developer’s GREED than about this project’s viability.

    2. “This project provides much needed affordable accommodation for the town”
    Actually, the proposal does not state which, if any, apartments will be “sold”. It does indicate that some “owner-occupied” apartments are intended to be part of the last in a four-part staged construction plan but makes no firm commitment. Far from being the “saviour” we need, these apartments may perhaps be as far as two years away. Even if some do end up being built for sale, does anyone really think they could be “affordable”?

    3. “Having people living in the CBD will help keep street crime down”
    This is going to be a “serviced apartment” development, with tavern and other tourist facilities. It will not put any more people into the CBD than the old Melanka did, or than the Aurora, Diplomat, Elkira, and the Todd Tavern now do. As a self-described “gated community”, I doubt many of this development’s guests would ever leave the premises past nightfall.

    4. “The town needs this project to provide work for the building industry and stop tradesmen leaving town”
    Anyone pushing this “so-90s” line has not tried getting any building work done lately. Just ask any tradesmen in town if they’re not busy. There is, in fact, no shortage of building work in this town, and the large projects recently proclaimed in our local newspapers, such as the Casino Extensons will only make matters worse.

    5. “This project has a lot of good features, so we should let it be built”
    This project DOES have many good features, but it is just too high. Allowing this five-storey / 18.5 metre high project to proceed will open the way for many other not-so-worthy five, six or even higher buildings to be built on sites that are much closer to Anzac Hill, or even directly onto Wills Terrace. This would certainly not improve the already scarred vista from Anzac Hill. Have we not learnt anything from the building of the Ford Plaza?

  6. Hal Duell Says:

    The three storey limit has served Alice well for 25 years or so, but does it have to be forever carved in stone?
    My thinking is it does not.
    Three objections seem to be dominating this debate. Will the development as proposed destroy the view of the ranges? What about parking? And will five storeys become ten or twenty?
    If one’s view of the ranges is momentarily blocked, for heaven’s sake take a step or two to either side. The ranges are still there, and they will still be there long after this building crumbles back into the dust from which it came.
    I am assuming there will be parking for all the residents, and for some visitors. If more is needed, is it time for the Town Council to consider turning the car-park on Gregory Tce and Hartley St into a multi-level
    car-park. Alice will need this anyway once the AZRI development gets the nod and all those commuters start clogging the already too few parking bays we now have.
    If the three storey limit has served us well for 25 years, surely a five storey limit can serve us just as well for an equal time. Just because we go to five, there is no need to assume we will go to ten or twenty. Is the DCA prepared to make a commitment to this effect?
    It always hurts to grow, but that is no reason to fear it.

  7. Dave Richards Says:

    Hal, can you elaborate on your proposition: “if the three storey limit has served us well for 25 years, surely a five storey limit can serve us just as well for an equal time.” One could also say: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Or if we have x views of the ranges, why is it OK to have x minus y views when we might be able to keep X and still accomodate inner-city living.
    I suspect five storeys is more about the egos of architects than either the needs of the town or the need to make money.
    As Dom points out there are plenty of people making money out of two storeys, and there are a number of vacant blocks in the town which could be gazetted for three storey residential/commercial developments instead of concentrating everything in one enormous complex in the middle of the town. The issue is actually about planning, or the lack of it. Now, just as it was 25 years ago, we seem to have no intelligent thinking about what goes where. Just : oh, Melanka’s gone, let’s plonk something there. It’s all about ad hoc development.
    Unfortunately there is this kind of “progress” thinking going on, with “progress”meaning we mimick what the cities do. I think it’s real progress when people actually value their environment enough to say we shouldn’t have to go up on a bloody big hill to get a decent view of what it is we love about being here. This town is unique in many senses. Let’s not become like everywhere else without actually identifying what those unique things are.

  8. Dalton Dupuy Says:

    More is not necessarily better. One of the world-class cities, Philadelphia, kept high-rises out for a long time because nothing could be built higher than the statue of the colony’s founder William Penn. So that by the 20th Century it was still a relevant building code and produced one of the most human-scaled cities in the US.
    Clearly, five storeys is about greed.
    I don’t trust the mayor’s judgement either since his alternative to trainloads of uranium going through town was build a line through Emily Gap. What kind of value system is that?
    And besides, why should the general community pay for the infrastructure cost so this developer can make more money?
    The height limit scales the town to people and our activities. I don’t want want the added pressure on roads, parking, footpaths, bikepaths of a concentrated housing estate. Tell this Queenslander to go build on the Gold Coast, where they have already stuffed it up.
    So be it.

  9. Hal Duell Says:

    “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” The trouble is, it (housing in Alice) is broke, and it needs fixing.
    As for the view, the first time a house was built in Alice to replace the humpies that were here before, the view of the ranges from in front of that building was blocked. We all live in houses. Whether or not we can see the ranges from our house depends on whether or not we are willing to step off our own veranda.
    It’s also been said that something has to change so everything can go on as before.
    And fair go Dalton. Damien didn’t build the rail line thru the Gap. He inherited it. The Federal Government and Halliburton built it so they could exploit our uranium reserves. We were all glad to see the train continue on to Darwin, but did we really think it was built to haul Chinese underwear?
    There is no point in thinking that Alice is still the same little town that so many of us reached after travelling up or down a long dusty road.
    If five storeys leads to ten or twenty, then it wants blocking now.
    But will it?
    Again, it always hurts to grow.

  10. Dave Richards Says:

    I thought I was attempting to address the points about housing in the last post. Where is the evidence that we have to break the planning laws to solve the housing shortage? Are you suggesting there is no other way?
    I didn’t come here by a dusty road. I flew here, courtesy of New Limited. Love planes. Love gadgets. Love rocket ships and space probes. Love invention. Even like some high rise buildings … in cities. This is not about nostalgia. It’s not about fearing change. It’s about not trashing what you’ve got when you don’t have to.
    I’m open to persuasion, but I haven’t seen a single argument for these five storeys that’s backed up with evidence.

  11. Hal Duell Says:

    Times change, populations change, even planning laws change.
    And while there may be no evidence for building five storeys, is there any evidence for not building five storeys?
    I have no plans to march in the streets either way, and I’m reviewing my plans to visit your site. If opinions contrary to yours are to get hammered, will both sides of a proposition get a fair hearing? When I first looked at this discussion all opiinions were the same. It read a bit like that old Australian Koan – “What is the sound of one thong flapping?”
    Let a bit of air in. It can’t hurt, and it might be interesting.

  12. Hal Duell Says:

    Thank you for letting us clear the air between us yesterday
    More thoughts on the Melanka development go to populating our CBD, and car parks.
    All over the world people are moving back into their CBD’s as a way of reclaiming their city centres. Without residents, once the offices and businesses close, the urban ghouls emerge and the empty streets become an urban nightmare.
    To a limited extent this is happening in Alice today. More residents in town will help stop this erosion of nocturnal safety. As visitors and residents are accosted in our CBD at night, the very last thing they worry about is whether or not this is happening with or without a clear view of the ranges.
    And it’s also about cars and where to put them. If the AZRI suburb takes off, each of those houses will have at least one car, and many will have two. When they come into town to work or shop they will be hard pressed finding adequate parking.
    So in a sense, the choice could be between five storeys of people or five storeys of parking bays.
    Also, if the NT is formally declared a failed state and fractures into two, we could be heading for capital city status. Do we really want to create a city spread all across the countryside with an unsafe centre, and to be totally dependent on private and public transport to take us in and out every morning and every evening?
    Hal Duell

  13. janet brown Says:

    I am with you Hal. I went and checked on a few blogs about Alice and I find that there is a feeling with tourist that we have old ugly buildings and it is dirty and unsafe for the night wanderers. I would like a beautification of the CBD and that will hopefully start with the new five storey building. I would like to see South Tce road removed and lovely alfresco restuarants with Todd River views. More grass and Centralian themes. I want a place that people can use, tourist and locals can venture out doors in the CBD. I believe more people on the street more dining facing the river and less in the shopping mall. Oh my that would mean the police presence could stay the same (non existent ) as more people on the street would mean less crime in the CBD and people would feel safe. After all there is safety in numbers when you don’t have police for safety. Let’s get together and design a CBD for the people to enjoy be safe and provides accomodation for singles and workers for our town. Not to mention get views of the Todd that no one looks at because it is behind everything. Lets get together, there are a few designers who could donate their time and abilities. We could include or our heritage buildings to contribute and enhance the ambiance of the design and improve our safety and beauty. and work together for the good of Alice.

  14. Domenico Pecorari Says:

    While it IS good to have public discussion on the “hi-rise” issue, your arguments seem to be based upon the notion that “growth” and “change” equate to “progress” . Times may indeed change, Hal, but don’t you think that some things stay constant? Like a preference for cities with a human scale, beautiful vistas and a way of life suited to the environment it finds itself in? Change for change’s sake is a cop-out, Hal. Sensible change that maintains the good aspects of out town is what the opponents of a HI-rise Alice are on about. This, however, is a much harder approach than letting the the developers decide what’s best for us.

    And Janet,
    While I agree this town does have some ugly buildings, this has not come about from their being only 2 or 3-storeys high. I’d say they resulted from developer’s greed and the “maximise return for minimum outlay” approach that is their creed. Ask your tourists again, as I have often done, which part/s of the town they liked best. Don’t be surprised to hear: the “southern end of the Todd Mall”. Yes, an open yet intimate space, of a human scale and great interest, where you can watch Alice life and all its varied characters, pass by. The 5-storey gated community will set more than one ugly precedent: it will entrench the US and THEM attitudes which underpin our town’s current anti-social problems.

  15. Hal Duell Says:

    A correction with an apology to Dalton, Alice’s #1 coffee man. When I read his post above I mistook Emily Gap for Heavitree Gap. The idea of a train thru Emily Gap is so bizarre that it just didn’t register.
    As I understand it, the proposed freight by-pass is to go thru Undoolya Gap, a sensible idea. Emily Gap is fully off limits for reasons that I think we all appreciate.
    I am contacting Mayor Ryan asking him to clarify what I am sure is a misunderstanding.
    And a reply to Domenico in the last post: I don’t think we are letting the developers decide what is best for us. We are deciding that, and that is what this blog and the letters to the newspapers and the submissions to the DCA are all about.
    It’s good to be having this debate, and I remain in favour of this development at this time. Something needs to get Alice moving again, and the proposed Melanka development might just do that.
    Hal Duell

  16. Linda Wells Says:

    A 3 storey development would get Alice moving just fine.

    The tourists I walk around with appreciate the CBD and comment on the appropriateness of the building heights, even before I point out the regulation.
    And Janet, how you can equate more grass with Centralian themes is beyond me, unless it’s the Centralian theme of invasion and colonisation to which you refer. Or of course native grasses.


  17. Domenico Pecorari Says:

    Hal, by completely accepting a developer’s proposal, without questioning the effect it will have on the project’s immediate neighbourhood or the town’s character, IS letting them decide the future shape and nature of our town.
    You seem to think that our town needs these developers more than they need this town. Rest assured, Hal, these developers will not be losing money if forced to reduce their building height to comply with the present building height limits. Not in a town where they are almost guaranteed near-100% occupancy. Come on Hal, its time to stop under-valuing our town and to call their bluff.

  18. Jose Petrick Says:

    On Saturday I walked twice all around the Melanka site.

    I was surprised and amazed to see the trees that I understood would hide the buildings from the road are in fact right inside the block and are 3/4 trunk with leaves at the top. I doubt the trees would hide the buildings very much.

    Secondly if there will be underground parking what about the tree roots?? Will the trees be secure with only part of their root system??

    Thirdly, usually the break- ins in Todd Mall are reported to be in the early hours of the morning, not late at night. I doubt many Melanka residents would be regularly walking in the Mall at 3 or 4am.

    I am definitely against a five storey complex.

    However, I would agree to three storeys at Melanka according to the height and building regulations.
    Jose Petrick

  19. Hal Duell Says:

    Domenico, I do think Alice Springs needs developers, and I also think Alice as we know it inside the Gap has out grown many of its current regulations and restrictions.
    So, as I put in my submission to the DCA, permit 5 storeys as long as the building(s) to open space ratio is no less than the ratio in the current Melanka proposal.
    Agreed it would be truly hideous to construct a 5 storey Ford Plaza, but that is not what is up for approval.
    Having lived in Alice for half my life, I do not under-value it. But I am prepared to see it change.
    And for the life of me I do not see an increase from 14 meters to 18 meters as all that radical a change. When they knock the Gap Hotel down and try to build a 20 storey monolith, then I’ll join you.

  20. Portia Peterkin Says:

    I am confused regarding the zoning. It is supposed to be TC and yet the specs are stating that the apartments will be owner-occupied, which I believe is R not TC. I think there may have been a misinterpretation of “Tourist Commercial including residential”, residential in this case referring to tourist hotel and apartment type buildings, not residential type buildings.

    I am also concerned with parking and increased traffic – the parking is short 23 spaces already – have you tried to find a park around the area lately? Making it worse is not my idea of fun. It may be that in the future there will be increased parking provided by the Council or by someone else, but at this point in time, there are no plans that I know of. I think the traffic flow up the laneway should go south-north to prevent bottlenecks happening when people take off from the lights heading west and have to slow because someone is turning down the laneway. Better they enter the laneway from the less busy Stuart Tce and wait for a break in the traffic when exiting the laneway onto Stott Tce. BTW, if there is a flood, the carpark will be flooded according to the flood map.

    The design certainly looks fab – but at 4-5 storeys, it will stick out like the proverbial dog’s reproductive anatomy. I would like to see 3 storey with 4 storey setback, not 4 storey with 5th storey setback. Following the same lines of argument in the specs, the Hospital is 3 storeys but appears to be 4 or 5 – so with a 4 or 5 storey building, it follows that it will have an appearance of 6 or 7… I am rather cynical, remembering how the Ayers Rock Resort was not meant to be visible from the Rock…if all these experts are wrong, will they knock it down to 3 storeys?

    I haven’t finished with the submission and I have other queries to address to the DCA. Mind you, I am not sure if it is even worth spending the time to put in our views as the Minister has already said publicly that she supports the development. Heigh Ho!

  21. Domenico Pecorari Says:

    Hal, I didn’t say that we don’t need developers, but wish to point out that developers need The Alice just as much as we need them. With some of the highest levels of disposable income in the country, together with the present accommodation shortage, I believe Alice Springs is a very desirable town in which to invest. We do not need to bend over backwards and allow them to do as they wish.
    I too want to see The Alice change, Hal, from the “ad hoc” town I’ve seen developers create over the last 25 years I’ve lived here to a town with a viable vision and a sustainable plan by which it may get there.
    Change for change’s sake is just not good enough.

  22. Mike Gillam Says:

    Hal, respectfully suggest that you read the letter by Ross Peterkin in Tues. Centralian Advocate for a hefty dose of logic that contributes to a debate that quite frankly is not served by rhetorical references to ‘growing pains’ or ‘times change’ … clearly the massing of buildings can and should be coordinated and planned. In the hands of individual developers and a politician of the day who might approve a project because he or she likes the colour, our town would attract the developers we deserve. Big buildings often create excitement, a bit like retail therapy on a grand scale but the feeling can wear off quickly so our reasons for allowing these character changing projects needs to be based on sound judgement and planning principles.Tall buildings in the wrong places can create wind tunnels of cold air in winter, they can block cooling sea breezes that flush polluted streets in coastal cities, deny adjoining properties winter sun, destroy sight-lines that reinforce our regional identity or overshadow important historical sites. Conversely tall buildings can be proactively massed to highlight the form and protect the ‘assets’ of a city and thereby serve its population, not just its financiers. The Alice Springs News published part of my submission to the Development Consent Authority but were forced to edit the document for reasons of space. So I’d like to add a bit here – I provided a photograph that showed a sight-line that ‘extends our gaze by about 5km (I was being conservative – its probably 6.5km – I’ll measure it soon) over the top of the low rise ‘Vinnies’ . In my submission I note that not all CBD blocks are equally suitable for high-rise. Moreover, some land should not be developed to the existing …14 m. and must be rated accordingly… I also pointed out that a 20 metre maximum is permitted in the Mt John tourism precinct and not a single landowner has taken up the offer. I believe the merits of the Melanka site project are totally eclipsed by the indisputable fact that its approval would create a precedent for ad hoc high rise development in the CBD of Alice Springs…the developers might be encouraged to re-submit plans when the government has fulfilled its professional obligations to the community by commissioning a concept plan to guide and control building heights…

  23. Mike Gillam Says:

    CORRECTION & Apologies for a couple of errors. my reference to a 20 metre maximum height limit for the Mt John tourism precinct is out of date and incorrect. I was in a hurry and relying on my memory and I believe an old clause in the 1992 Town Plan. According to the current 2007 planning scheme the height limit for this area is the same ie. 14 m. However as part of an overall concept plan to guide building heights and mass I believe there may be a good case for returning to the previous policy to allow taller buildings in this area.

    Secondly the sight-line in the photograph that I published in the Alice News was at a guess 5 km. I’d like to correct this – in fact the range / cliff face in the west and visible over the top of the single storey ‘Vinnies’ is a feature of the Chewings Ra – approx. 9 km away. Imagine that! This vista extends our gaze 9 km in a CBD that is barely 700 metres in diameter east to west! So it is not only 5 storey buildings that can destroy sightlines that greatly contribute to the regional identity and grandeur of Alice Springs.

  24. Hal Duell Says:

    When I joined this conversation I read a conformity of opinion against this proposed development. I felt a voice in favour was needed to keep it from becoming as bland as an Afghan election, rhetorically speaking.
    So I suggested it might not be such a heinous idea.
    The DCA meeting might be as interesting as the one about the dongas and a camp for transients.

  25. Dave Richards Says:

    Hal: I agree it’s pointless to all agree – unless people can refine their arguments and reach a more reasoned and intelligent point of view. That may be more likely with debate. So thanks for your input and for weathering the storm of argument. I think that apart from the issues surrounding higher buildings themselves, there is the issue of process, which people have raised and I’d be interested in any hearing other points of view apart from those that have already been made. Simply, is this the best way to change long-existent planning statutes – on the basis of one application that will change those statutes? Or do we need a genuine discussion not driven by pressure?

  26. Phil Walcott Says:

    I’ve been following this great, robust debate over the past few weeks and engaging in conversation with others about the issue. A couple few points as part of my contribution.

    I think that people are using language that is emotive and working from a ‘fear factor’ basis. Depending on one’s point of view. 5 storeys can hardly be considered high-rise. I believe that the term ‘medium rise’ is better suited to the description of the proposed development. I doubt very much that even a century into the future there will ever be ‘high rise’ development in the Alice Springs CBD. The Heritage Precinct will be preserved when the developers tweak and modify the parking areas some more.

    Has anyone taken a walk, ride or drive out the the end of Range Crescent and looked back over the town. What do you see? I see a beautiful township vista spiked in places by 47 metere (and that’s just to the bulk-head) lights at Traegar Park. That’s about 15 storeys!! Now THAT’S high-rise. I don’t remember any kerfuffle around that ‘development’. Perhaps someone can enlighten me if there was.

    I guess we just wait now until the DCA submit their recommendations to Gerry McCarthy and he makes a decision.

    Que sera sera!!

  27. Charlie Carter Says:

    I was out of town for most of Oct and Nov, and just catching up.
    This is my first contact with Alice Online, so congratulations to Dave Richards, well done.
    There are many reasons to oppose the proposed 5 storey development, most of which have been well enunciated above.
    For me it is the prevalent attitude in The Alice that ‘one off’ exemptions to the rules are the norm.
    We have a town plan.
    We have a height limit.
    There should be bloody good reasons put forward before we consider any exemptions.
    Maximising profit is not a good reason.
    The Mayor’s categorising ‘precedent’ as a ‘hysterical response’ is incorrect.
    ‘Precedent’ is an important part of our legal system.
    Allowing the rules to be broken once will encourage further ‘exemptions’
    Finally Phil Walcott’s raising of the light towers is a smelly crimson fish.
    Light towers are not buildings in the general sense of the word.

  28. Phil Walcott Says:

    Hey Charlie,

    Welcome home – always great to have you in our midst.

    Alice Springs, like the rest of the planet is about to enter the second decade of the third millenuium. Perhaps it is time to have a referendum on the height issue by ratepayers of Alice Springs. I approached the Alice Springs Town Council with that proposition but it was considered not to be ‘core business’ so the idea lapsed. 25 years have come and gone since the height restrictions were agreed to. This town has a different demographic now compared to a quarter of a century ago – and change is the only permanence.

    The limited attendance and submissions opposing the development at the DCA application hearing a couple of weeks ago suggests that most people in town could care less. By extension, that gives implied approval & support to the idea.

    Charlie – what is a crimson fish (smelly or otherwise)??

    Your assertion that light towers are not buildings (in the general sense of the word) confirms that they are structures (like buildings) erected to serve a purpose (provide lighting as opposed to housing) with the intent that they will stay erected (like buildings) until they no longer serve the purpose they were designed for. Ergo – the are a building.

    This debate centres around the height of a structure in Alice Springs. The light towers at Treagar Park are 47 metres high (to the masthead i.e to the bottom of the light bit). That is almost triple the height of the proposed development on the old Melanaka site. Critics then were howled down very quickly by sports enthusiasts. How much your view of then ranges is restricted by the erection of a 5 storey building in the CBD will depend on where you stand (literally).

    We await the Minister’s decision (or will it come from his bureaucrats)??

  29. Charlie Carter Says:

    Er… Phil,
    “A Red Herring”

  30. Phil Walcott Says:

    Happy 2010 Charlie – may it herald a decade of decadence (responsible but fun) for us all.

    Red herring – crimson fish? Yeah, that wasn’t rocket science.

    The debate over this issue across several months since July has been about ‘height’ (just review the previous offering on this site and in other communiques). Light towers and buildings are all the same – they are all structures. Structures designed to enlighten and enliven our community. The height issue was ‘dead in the water’ once those towers went up. Crimson fish or no crimson fish

    BTW – I love the question sign on your bike – ‘A uranium mine in a solar city’?? Doesn’t make sense to me either.

  31. Lenard Maclellan Says:

    hello! appreciate the site must have taken a fair amount of time.

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