Fred McCue, 24 September 2015

THE future of One Mile Dam community could be up in the air with petroleum giant Caltex Australia planning a “large scale urban development” right next to the Aboriginal town camp.

The One Mile Dam community has a controversial past, with Lands and Planning Minister Dave Tollner previously calling for its closure.

Mr Tollner has described the community as a “hellhole” and “the base for the long grass association”.

But when asked this week what the Caltex redevelopment plan might mean for the community, Mr Tollner was far more reserved than he has been previously.

“As the responsible Minister, I won’t comment on current proposals before the Development Consent Authority,” Mr Tollner said this week.

When speaking about the community in the past he branded it a health hazard.

“It is filthy, it needs a massive clean-up and I just can’t imagine how people can live in a place like that with that sort of rubbish, filth and degradation around them,” Mr Tollner said before becoming Lands and Planning Minister.

Caltex said it wanted to rezone the 14,000sq metre parcel of land to help address “the high demand and limited supply of housing in Darwin”.

The proposal is for a “high quality, landmark development in the heart of Darwin”. “The development concept would avoid compromising opportunities or anticipated outcomes on adjoining communities, including One Mile Dam,” the rezoning request said.

Caltex said while the site would primarily be used for residential purposes it could also house commercial and retail uses, and possibly a hotel.

In 1979 then CLP lands minister Marshall Perron moved to provide certainty to residents of the camp by handing back land to the Aboriginal Development Foundation as a special purpose lease to be held in perpetuity for a peppercorn rent. But not much has happened since seven sheds and two toilet blocks were built there more than 30 years ago and over the years residents have expressed fears about the community’s future.

Some of Mr Tollner’s previous comments could hardly have done much to ease their concerns, nor would the prospect of an upmarket residential development next door, despite assurances from Caltex the development would not “compromise” One Mile Dam.

“This place is a public health hazard, (it) should be shut down, cordoned off and a whole bunch of health inspectors need to get in there,” Mr Tollner said.

Extracted in full from the NT News.