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Darwin to undergo major $200m refresh under new city deal

Central Darwin would be home to a number of educational and civic institutions, including a new campus for Charles Darwin University, a fine arts gallery and a major library, under a City Deal for the Northern Territory capital announced by the federal, territory and local governments in November.

The deal, worth $200 million, builds on plans announced by the NT government in 2017 to invest $100 million in the rejuvenation of the CBD. Parts of this plan have now been folded into the deal and will now be largely funded by the federal government, which has committed to providing a capped contribution of up to $97.3 million toward an “iconic new education and civic precinct” on Cavenagh Street.

Proposed CDU city campus by Hames Sharley.

Proposed CDU city campus by Hames Sharley.

Image: Hames Sharley

The centerpiece of the precinct would be a new campus for Charles Darwin University (CDU), which would include integrated student accommodation and university administration facilities. Hames Sharley have produced indicative designs of the campus.

The precinct will also house the City of Darwin’s chambers and offices and a library home to the combined collections of the NT government, the City of Darwin and CDU.

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The deal will also see Darwin’s public spaces refreshed and redesigned in an effort to cool the city. Part of this will be the $37 million redevelopment of State Square, which will replace bitumen car parks with “landscaping and cooling reflection pools.” A new car parking structure buried beneath the square will replace the lost parking space. The NT government has also committed to delivering a masterplan for the square by mid-2019.

The project will also involve the long-planned construction of an art gallery near State Square. In 2015, the territory government unveiled designs for a fine arts gallery by DKJ Projects Architecture and Fender Katsalidis Mirams on the site of the Chan Building (the former home of the territory’s legislative assembly). Under the deal, the government will commit $50 million to deliver the gallery as part of the masterplan for State Square.

Elsewhere in the agreement are a number of initiatives involving the CSIRO, which focus on increasing the resilience of the tropical city. Among these is the creation of an “Urban Living Lab” to “support the Northern Territory Government’s development of a tropical design guide by providing an evidence base for improved tropical living.”

The CSIRO, NT government and City of Darwin will develop and produce a tropical design guide “within 12 months” of the signing of the deal.

The City Deals funding and investment model was first implemented in the UK under David Cameron’s Conservative government in 2012 as a way for local bodies to lead investment in their areas. The model encourages city councils, or groups of local councils, to work together to identify local economic opportunities. A “deal” is then struck with state and federal governments to secure funding for those projects.

The Australian iteration of the scheme is part of the Smart Cities Plan, a multi-pronged development and infrastructure plan announced in 2016.

The full deal can be found here.

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