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State Govt lodges bid for National Park City status

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The State Government has officially filed its bid for Adelaide to become a globally recognised National Park City, despite ongoing criticism of moves to rezone and commercialise city park lands.

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Adelaide is one of five cities vying to become just the second-ever National Park City recognised by the UK-based National Park City Foundation, after London was bestowed the honour in 2019.

The State Government argues the “historic” push, first flagged early 2019, will enhance Adelaide’s global reputation and bring tourism and investment into South Australia.

The long-mooted bid was formally submitted by Green Adelaide on Saturday, with the National Park City Foundation scheduled to begin a three-week assessment of the proposal on Monday.

The foundation is expected to make a final decision next month, with Galway, Ireland, Newcastle, England, Glasgow, Scotland, and Wales also in the running.

Green Adelaide presiding board member Professor Chris Daniels said being recognised as a National Park City would “help inspire change to urban design and decision-making across greater Adelaide”.

“The status would bring global recognition for Adelaide’s environment, attract visitors and enable more investment and interest in nature-based tourism, as well as attract more funding for innovative environmental projects,” Daniels said.

“Most importantly, it will help bring people and nature closer together and lead to great benefits for the environmental health of our city.”

But the bid has attracted vocal criticism from the Adelaide Park Lands Association, who earlier this year accused the State Government of hypocrisy due to ongoing “attacks” against the city’s green belt.

The community group argued the State Government’s push to rezone 71 hectares of the park lands for the new Women’s and Children’s hospital and the 15,000 seat Riverbank Arena means Adelaide’s bid “cannot be taken seriously”.

The National Park City Foundation previously indicated it would give people and organisations the opportunity to independently submit their thoughts about the bid once Adelaide’s application is received.

Foundation Chair Paul de Zylva told InDaily in August that the judges would “take into account” the Park Lands Association’s views.

“Community opposition could potentially impede an application for National Park status,” de Zylva said at the time.

“The assessment of the bid would not depend on 100 per cent of people agreeing to Adelaide becoming a National Park City, but we will be assessing if a majority supports the plans and listening closely to the details of any dissent.”

Environment Minister David Speirs and Green Adelaide have previously labelled the Park Lands Association’s opposition to the bid “very disappointing”.

Adelaide’s bid will be assessed against 23 criteria, including whether the push has sufficient public support and if the city has “meaningful policies” in place to “protect, increase and enhance nature, culture, heritage, the environment and public space”.

Environment Minister David Speirs over the weekend reaffirmed his belief that Adelaide warranted the recognition.

“The journey for Adelaide to become a National Park City has been about building awareness, curiosity and capability about our environment, as well as gaining support from government agencies, non-government organisations, businesses and communities,” he said.

“I believe that Adelaide deserves to be recognised as a National Park City. I have no doubt that such a title will be embraced by our community. It will be a catalyst for further change to benefit everyone’s wellbeing.”

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