RSL’s Esplanade club proposal dead after council moves to turn carpark into green space

by | Nov 25, 2020 | Business, News | 0 comments

The RSL’s controversial plan to build a club on the Esplanade appears to finally be dead, after Darwin City Council passed a motion at its meeting last night to turn the carpark at the centre of the proposal into green space.

Alderman Justine Glover brought the motion forward and said debate was “tense”, but passed five votes to four.

“There was strong opposition to it but there also great joy especially from those sitting in the chamber that we had finally had made a decision and commitment to green that space and to make sure there is no development in the future,” she told ABC Radio Darwin.

Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis said the proposal was essentially killed in October after he claimed he had received advice the carpark was an Indigenous sacred site. He said the RSL was now looking for alternative locations.

“To tell you the truth, I’m really pleased now that we removed that carpark,” he told ABC Radio. “I think we have enough carpark space. I think it’s wise to convert that to something more beautiful than asphalt.”

Mr Vatskalis said the council would maintain access at the site for events such as the Bombing of Darwin ceremony and downplayed his support for the RSL development.

As late as two weeks ago, RSL president Steven Gloster was still holding out hope the proposal would proceed as planned despite the alleged sacred site claims.

In a statement on Wednesday, Mr Gloster said the RSL “will discuss with our members alternative proposals that will continue to embrace our significant past and sustains a future within a modern environment”.

The issue had struck a nerve in the community, with many supporters of the Deckchair Cinema opposing the development and hundreds filling council chambers to voice their opposition.

Then there were the issues of council not actually voting on a surprise motion to defer debate.

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