Traditional owners say a proposal to develop a $200 million hotel on a prime piece of beach front land in Darwin does not address concerns over registered sacred sites in the area.
- A sacred site is registered at Little Mindil in Darwin, where property developers want to build a luxury hotel
- An Aboriginal organisation says the development proposal fails to address their concerns
- The property developers say they will continue to engage traditional owners about the project’s design
The application to develop the site at Little Mindil, land that was controversially sold off by the Labor-Henderson government in 2008, proposes a 131-room hotel, 53 serviced apartments and 277 parking spaces on the shoreline adjacent to the Mindil Beach Casino Resort.
The Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority said a sacred site is registered at Little Mindil and that the developers had lodged an application for an authority certificate.
But Nigel Browne, the chief executive of the Larrakia Development Corporation, said the current proposal was of concern to traditional owners.
“The significance of the place which has to be taken into account,” he told ABC Radio Darwin on Tuesday.
“From what I have seen in relation to the documents that have been submitted for the planning process to continue, those concerns really have not been addressed.”
But David Do, a spokesman for the project which is backed by Arthur Winston Investment and the Vietnam-based Kita Group, said engagement between consultants and Larrakia traditional owners had commenced and would continue.
Mr Do said the planning process for the development would “incorporate and acknowledge local custodians through naming, design and work opportunities”.
Mr Browne, however, said traditional owner concerns had not yet been addressed despite Larrakia groups providing feedback to developers at a meeting before the proposal was released.
“I would like to see, from my perspective, something that ensures that the remains of Larrakia ancestors and others are not disturbed,” he said.
Last week, the chairman of the Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation, Richard Fejo, said he would be comfortable with the proposal if it was approved by the sacred sites authority.
“As long as I’m satisfied they’ve gone through the sacred sites authority, I’m not concerned,” he said.
While the proposal has been backed by industry groups Hospitality NT and Master Builders NT for its economic potential, outgoing Darwin alderman Andrew John Arthur has also questioned the proposed development.
Mr Arthur said he was concerned about the proposal’s impact on green space and public access to the popular Little Mindil foreshore — an area also valued by anglers currently able to access both the beach and connected creek.
“At a time when Darwin is losing more and more open green space to development, Little Mindil remains very special to many people,” Andrew John Arthur said.
“I believe that the community needs to be able to access that foreshore. That’s everybody’s land,” he said.
“I have concerns that this new development might restrict that access.”
Mr Do said the proposal maintained 4,800 square metres of open public space with “public access … along Little Mindil creek, the foreshore and throughout the site”.
He also said there were “no changes to existing access for fishing” and that the plans included public areas “for a range of food stalls to showcase local ingredients and suppliers”.
At the time of the Little Mindil sell-off, then Chief Minister Paul Henderson said the buyers, SkyCity, had agreed to preserve Little Mindil, protect its creek and foreshore, and maintain public access to the beach from Bullocky Point.
SkyCity placed Little Mindil on the market in 2019, which at the time raised community concerns over the future use of the land.
The formal development application has been submitted to the Development Consent Authority and is now on public exhibition.
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