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Labor's plan for Adelaide: growing slower but getting older faster

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A revised 30 year plan for Greater Adelaide paints a concerning picture for South Australia, with population targets officially downgraded, while the proportion of people aged over 65 is expected to grow significantly.

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Planning Minister John Rau today released the final update of his blueprint, which takes account of feedback received since a draft was released late last year. The update confirms a significant downturn in population growth since the original 30-year plan was released in 2010.

“The population of Greater Adelaide is growing but at a slower rate than anticipated in 2010,” the report states.

“Overseas immigration and the rate of natural increase have declined.

“Interstate migration from South Australia also continues to be significant, with a high rate of young people leaving to pursue careers in other states.”

While the blueprint is aimed “to help make Adelaide a place where young people want to stay and pursue a career and family”, it lowers its sights considerably, projecting population growth of 545,000 by 2045 – down from the 560,000 increase projected by 2040 under the previous plan.

“This will result in a total population of almost 2 million people,” the new report states.

“An additional 248,000 dwellings (nearly 8300 per year) will be required to house this growth.”

It’s not just the raw numbers but the population mix that poses headaches for policymakers, with the report conceding “Greater Adelaide has more people aged over 65 than the Australian average and its share of this age group is also growing faster than the national average”.

The plan suggests there were 190,000 people aged 65+ in Greater Adelaide in 2011, which is projected to grow to 324,000 by 2031.

“The number of group, lone-person, single-parent and couple-without-children households has also increased and this trend is expected to intensify.”

The blueprint seeks to “give older people more opportunities to ‘age in place’”, with a focus on smaller accommodation in well-serviced locations.

Rau also unveiled a raft of Development Plan Amendments with what he called “a strong focus on design quality and the interface between new buildings and their neighbours”.

They include DPAs covering the former Channel 9 site in Tynte St, where developers are hoping to build luxury apartments, as well as various sites across Unley, West Torrens and Norwood, Payneham & St Peters – including the former Caroma factory site and the old Le Cornu site on Anzac Highway.

Rau said the plan “proposes to rezone a number of strategic sites and areas along important transit corridors identified in the plan”.

“It would be a matter for individual landholders on those sites to make decisions about whether to invest or not,” he told media today.

“I expect a number of them would say yes.”

Property Council SA executive director Daniel Gannon said it appeared the Government was trying to “pick winners” by identifying specific sites to rezone, but Rau insisted all the sites had common characteristics.

“They’re all close to the city, they’re on major roads, they’re all relatively large sites – and they have a single owner,” he said.

“They represent an opportunity for development which is different from most landholdings close to the city.”

Gannon pointed to the downgraded population forecast as a warning sign, arguing: “We need a single, very clear population plan.”

“We need to start seeing leadership, [not just] in planning reform like rezoning but in population targets,” he said.

“I think what this plan demonstrates is the great demand challenge that we have.

“We can talk about pulling supply levers to inject more new stock, but unless we’re matching that with demand, it’s a complete waste of time… there’s no point giving all this supply with no residents to go into them.”

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