A government-funded art gallery due to be constructed in Darwin’s CBD is the scene of debate, with two supreme court judges insisting that the development regulator turn down the proposal.
Acting Justice Graham Hiley and Justice Judith Kelly believe the proposal — to be built within Darwin’s State Square precinct as part of a revitalisation process — is in close proximity to the court and other important buildings. They have also spoken out about the poor consultation process surrounding the gallery, with a number of judges not addressed during consultation proceedings.
"The locating of the Art Gallery so close to those important buildings, and obliterating the view of the Administrator's offices, will detract from the formal status of the important institutions which those buildings house and represent," Acting Justice Hiley writes.
The proposed gallery will also remove a number of court car parks, which, if removed, Hiley indicates will make it difficult for court users to attend.
The project application argues that while the gallery may appear close to the Supreme Court, the proposal is approximately 8 metres away from its balcony and 13 metres from the wall.
Development Consent Authority (DCA) Chair Suzanne Phillip says that the Authority was considering the proposal when she was approached by the judges.
"It's very rare that members of the court would make public comment, and I know in this case with strong enough feelings that they were prepared to do that," she says in an interview with the ABC.
"I take those concerns very, very seriously."
Further submissions from two men involved in the construction of Darwin’s Supreme Court and Parliament House have also been received by the DCA. Phillip says the complaints — submitted by engineer Ross Dunkley and building consultant John Brears — will ensure the Authority considers all feedback before giving approval to the gallery.
"(It would be wrong to be) rushing to approve things when those concerns remain unanswered,” she says.
"We have nothing before us to say the court is on board.”
A representative from the NT’s Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics says that the Supreme Court judges had been briefed through the Chief Justice. The representative also says that the parking needs of court users would be met, despite the current car parks making way for the gallery.
The representative says that the project has been revised multiple times in order to ensure the locale remains unaffected.
"These revisions also took into account feedback provided from stakeholders, including those at the Supreme Court during the consultation phase, which is ongoing," a statement reads.
The representative also claims that community consultation for the project has been extensive.
A decision regarding the proposal is expected sometime next week. In order for construction to begin, the project must receive DCA approval.