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Planning policies upset "vested interests": Rau

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Labor’s planning policies have upset “vested interests” in the development industry, says Planning Minister John Rau.

Developers view moves to limit greenfields developments in favour of inner-city infill as a direct attack on their business model, the minister believes.

Rau, Planning Minister since 2011, has attempted to change the balance between greenfields (new housing estates) and brownfields (infill) development, in line with the goals in the 30-year Plan for Greater Adelaide.

The minister has moved to increase inner-city height limits and streamline development approvals for medium-density projects, while attempting to limit urban sprawl in Adelaide’s north and south.

Despite coming under attack from some community groups for being too close to developers, Rau believes his work in the portfolio hasn’t been welcomed by some developers.

“Lets make no mistake about this, pursuing these policies upsets very significant vested interests because it changes the way the city evolves,” Rau told InDaily.

“And there’s a lot of business models out there which are totally reliant on things continuing the way they have done for the last 40 or 50 years. Those business models don’t want to see a change.

“I don’t think the companies that operate as primarily greenfields developers have been happy with the emphasis that I’ve been trying to place on infill within the existing footprint because it doesn’t play to their existing business model.”

Urban Development Industry SA executive director Terry Walsh said individual developers could comment on their own business models, but the UDIA would continue to support and lobby for Government policies that assisted residential development “in all locations – CBD, inner metro and urban fringe”.

“UDIA encourages all political leaders to maintain emphasis on land development opportunities in both infill and fringe locations to meet market needs,” he said.

Asked if he felt developers had sided with his political opponents, Rau would only point to the public record, particularly on the differing policies over the proposed Roseworthy housing development.

“I don’t know what they’ve done,” he said. “What’s on the public record is that the Liberals in January announced that they were going to go with big Roseworthy – this is 100,000 people. This is like putting Ballarat or Bendigo to the north of Gawler.

“There was then some other media interest in certain fundraising events of recent times (the Roseworthy developer, Michael Hickinbotham, hosted a Liberal Party fundraiser in February). Now that’s on the public record to0. Whether there’s a connection between those things I wouldn’t have a clue.

“Who can say what the situation is?”

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