This category contains 3 posts

Conservation Zoning in Mitchell Creek a fragile hope due to NT Planning Minister’s discretionary power.

UPDATE May 2014


A brief reflection of our 2009 goals reveals that though we have achieved the greater part of our aims including establishing our Friends Group as a stakeholder in Catchment management that we still have a great deal of work to do.

Construction is ongoing in the suburbs of  Johnston and Zuccoli and the hope of success through protective zoning has turned out to be fragile.  This is due to Ministerial discretion being sufficient to remove or reinstate Conservation Zoning at any time depending on the whim/aims of Government. Its evident that the whole of Mitchell Creek Catchment is way past being considered for Reserve status due to urban development.  To date neither NT Government  nor City of Palmerston Council have an interest or intent to balance urban development within this intact natural Catchment environment.  This short sighted view is causing loss of amenity for residents and visitors and a reduction in the mitigating effects of retained woodland and riparian vegetation (shade eg) in terms of temperature control and heavy water flows (flooding and erosion control).

See presentation below for a slide show of our Group’s aims and activities.

Presentation Mitchell Creek as urban catchment – the development of a community engagement campaign- 2013

I will provide a table of aims met and those still requiring more effort in a new post in the near future.

Thanks to the very many people who have assisted this long running campaign – you have kept us relevant  in the long  fight for protection of the Catchment’s natural values and open space for Palmerston people.



Monsoon gully in Mitchell Creek Catchment Escarpment – Johnston – protection of natural feature

The Monsoon gully is situated at a high point of the Mitchell Creek Catchment Escarpment to the west of the WW2 Heritage area  Johnston. It has been quarried at some point to access quartz and ironstone -just my quick observation – as can be seen in the photo at the left.

A large weeping fig is embedded in a round quartz rock just behind me which marks the eastern top edge of the gully.

The stream runs downhill into a narrow valley over split quartz rock and ironstone

Foliage is dense in this area just under the fig tree.

My concerns are that  construction of the road as part of Johnston Stage 2 will severely damage the gully head itself – just behind me you can see a dirt road.  3 rows of houses will be built back towards the Stuart Highway which lies behind the trees in the background of the photo. As yet there are is little information available from the NT Department of Planning and lands to indicate how this natural feature will be protected during exploratory, and construction works nor how it will fare when part of a residential subdivision..

The Monsoon gully is situated at a high point of the Mitchell Creek Catchment Escarpment to the west of the WW2 Heritage area  Johnston. It has been quarried at some point to access quartz and ironstone -just my quick observation – as can be seen in the photo at the left.

to 11/2/11 – Submission to NT Dept of Planning re re-zoning of Mitchell Creek Catchment Johnston to Conservation

Ms Ann Stephens Project Manager Strategic Lands Planning Department of Lands and Planning

PA2010/1429 Part Lot 4250 Town of Palmerston (Mitchell Creek corridor within the suburb of Johnston) Rezone from Zone FD (Future Development) to Zone CN (Conservation) Amendment to the NT Planning Scheme

Friends of Mitchell Creek request that you defer your decision on the conservation zoning of the Mitchell Creek corridor in Johnston Stage 1 and 2 as there are a number of unanswered questions which we feel will become clearer by the completion of our Friends group’s Caring For Country, Natural Resource Management Report  of Mitchell Creek Catchment.

Firstly the relevant exhibition material supporting the current proposal in Johnston does not show the outcome (if any) of the “application to make changes to the subdivision approved by DP09/0534  to make minor amendment to lot boundaries”, submitted by hand to the DCA Palmerston Division for Ministerial consent-  15/3/10).  I feel that the community is not able to give a fully informed commentary to the Planning Minister without the knowledge whether these minor amendments are in place as they deal with conservation and open space zoning.

Secondly previously proposed Conservation and open space zoning for Mitchell Creek in Johnston from Roystonea Road Reserve through to the Creek bed was indicated as approximately 400m wide and in length from Lambrick Ave to Roysonea Ave/Inverway Circuit. This distance has been indicated in NT government planning and research documents for over two decades. It was a huge shock to see the proposed width of the conservation zoning reduced to approximately a quarter of what was indicated ie 100m. That the distance has been historically in the order of 400m is due to the land capability ie terrain in this location. The area is generally floodplain with the meandering Mitchell Creek running and bubbling through with a dense coverage of riparian (riverbank) vegetation.

A quick walk/visual assessment of the Creek at Johnston Stage 1, its tributaries and drainage lines within the area bounded by Farrar Boulevard, Inverway Circuit, Brisbane Crescent and Roystonea Ave makes it very clear that conservation zoning ought to be put in place to protect

  • 2 drainage channels, one deep (and bridged on Inverway Circuit) which feeds directly into the filtering pond arrangement (on Inverway Circuit) and a shallower channel which feeds directly into the Creek just by the Old Stuart Highway crossing in Johnston.
  • numerous streams run through this area, for example some of the runoff from Farrar and Gunn flows into Sanctuary Lakes and is channeled into the Retention Basin no 1 at the corner of Buscall Ave and Roystonea Rd.  The runoff then flows via a culvert under Roystonea Ave into the wetland and then flows into the creek. The land through this area is water logged and not suitable for residential development

Additionally the WSUD is not depicted in the exhibition material but on the ground is clearly within the proposed 100m conservation zone by default as it is approximately 25m to 35 m wide in places right along and in places into the actual creek bed thus effectively reducing the proposed conservation zoning to a few metres in places on the eastern side of the Creek if we are working on the basis of 100m.

The question here is will the WSUD become part of the Conservation[1] zoning as is indicated in the exhibition material (ie by omission) or is it more appropriate for it to be zoned under a [2]PS zoning?


In conclusion I would like to say that to follow piecemeal zoning in the  Catchment is very damaging to its sustainability. This particular amendment would be better deferred until a more coherent plan is provided for firstly Johnston Stage 1 and Stage 2 –as the escarpment runoff flows down into the Creek and secondly to holistically consider the Catchment management interface with the residential development of Johnston, Zuccoli and Mitchell suburbs.

Yours sincerely

Alderman Sue Mckinnon Convenor Friends of Mitchell Creek


1. The primary purpose of Zone CN is to conserve and protect the flora, fauna and character of natural areas. 2. Development is to be sensitive to the natural features andhabitats of the zone and be so sited and operated as to have minimal impact on the environment.


1. The primary purpose of Zone PS is to provide public areas for recreational activity. 2. Development should be limited to that which is for public use and enjoyment consistent with the recreational opportunities of the land and which has minimal adverse impact (if any) on adjoining or nearby property.

Johnston Subdivision and conservation zoning

Did you know that the the conservation zoning for Mitchell creek in Johnston won’t be decided upon until the Stage 1 subdivision is complete and the surveying is carried out. What is left after the development will be the conservation zone! (Sue)