From NT Chapter Executive Director

We have had a busy couple of months in the NT and have finished our planning for 2020. A key part of the plan is to work across the built environment to deliver events that are meaningful for both the members and our partners. The last couple of months have been busy with policy and events. Our events included SONA – SuperStudio and DISSENT Conference sponsored by Charles Darwin University Foundation who provided funding for the students to attend the conference in New Zealand, EmAGN – RegiFrustration, Colorbond bus tour, Creative Industries forum, Australian Sustainably for the built environment (ASBE) briefing, heat mitigation seminar, Gold Medal Tour and ‘Her’izons women is leadership evening.

The Planning reform stage 3 consultation has recently finished with the next step being Bill Amendments to the Planning Act which will be tabled early next year. We have been active with the consultation process on Government working groups. We have also encouraged the NTG to include the recommendations that the Building Confidence report highlighted which should be implemented as part of these changes.

The Designing Better project is a suite of suggestions by the Northern Territory Planning Commission that specifically relates to apartment and mix-use buildings. This is a Territory-wide scope that seeks to encourage and enable residential apartment and mixed-use buildings in the Northern Territory to:

  • respond to context and celebrate local and regional differences;
  • respond to climate and contribute to the Territory’s built form character;
  • embrace Innovation through flexible, best practice design solutions; and
  • make great places that provide meaningful, vibrant and liveable spaces for people.

We have been part of the Planning commissions working groups and are looking forward to the development of the next stage. They are taking this slowly to make sure the consultation process is good so that they can use the model to address other zoning codes.

Room to Breathe is an ongoing project that which many of our members are involved in. We commend the Department of Housing for taking on board our recommendations in terms of the consultation process and we look forward to continuing to work with the department to ensure the best outcomes for remote Territorians.

Currently, the NTG is deliberating on the Transforming public spaces submission in the City of Darwin. The CBD is an ongoing conversation as there are huge challenges from design to safety let alone the climate. There were three categories highlighted walkability, greening and activating the city centre. Policy wise a sensible head about addressing these is required and should then be considered as part of the planning scheme. The CBD has been a key topic for the last 20 years with new consultation regularly, so we are hoping that this brings some directions that will be implemented however given how slow things have moved we really have to watch this space.

A key advocacy push for us 2019 and into 2020 is to work with the government to remove the ‘outside building control area’. This means that building in these zones, which is 90% of the NT, does not have to comply with the building code including in cyclone areas. This means that good design can be compromised over what is the best in the community.

The official launch of the new degree program is this Friday and we are very excited to be able to work with the University to grow this program. The Bachelor of Arts – Architectural design will address issues in both tropical and arid design as well as a clear direction about addressing design and the impacts of Climate Change. We look forward to working with Charles Darwin University to grow the course as well as the introduction of the Masters program.  

As you are aware there has been a Creative industries review across the NT and we hosted a forum for members. The recommendations are being finalised however there are some key support areas for Architects with the recommendation of a Government Architect as well as training and development pathways with support for the introduction of a Masters in Architecture as well policy recommendations with proposed amendments to Section J in the Construction code. We look forward to seeing how these recommendations are implemented in 2020.