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Give people a say on urban density

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Premier Jay Weatherill’s commitment to “involving people in the decisions that affect their lives and giving them a genuine role in making such decisions’” has gone out the window with Planning Minister John Rau’s decision to rezone Adelaide’s inner city areas, in conjunction with introducing a new assessment policy for the growth areas.

The rezonings are explicitly linked to the transport plan released only the week before for public consultation. The plan pushes for a far greater emphasis on residential and commercial densification along the major arterial roads in central and inner Adelaide than was envisaged several years ago with the land use directions mapped out in the 30 Year Plan for Greater Adelaide.

We now have less than a month to comment on the transport plan and its growth directives, which is a hopelessly inadequate consultation period.

In the meantime, the State Government is already pursuing this revised growth agenda with the capital city rezoning catering for twice the population increase envisaged for the inner-city by the 30 Year Plan of 2010, and now the rezoning of the inner city areas.

This begs the question of how much densification the Government is really pushing through in our inner suburbs.

While inner city densification may not be a bad thing, the community is right in objecting to how it is being done.

Neither the transport plan nor the 30 Year Plan, with which it is supposed to integrate, give adequate guidance on how to achieve this densification while maintaining liveability, character and heritage assets and delivering appropriate infrastructure, for new and existing residents.

Almost all the community views seem to have been ignored, with the approved plans almost the same as those put out for public consultation. Local communities are yet again faced with developments they don’t want.

The failure to properly plan the growth areas was seen with the Capital City DPA and now with the inner growth rezonings that allow for ad hoc development, but fail to facilitate good development.

It seems that the Government is now trying to put some sort of system in place to address the design aspect of new buildings, with a hastily put together policy on design review process and a decision making process removed from local councils. This policy has been put out with its own guidelines still to be developed.

Many of these new growth areas are planned for high capacity, high frequency arterial roads, and on the ring routes, which according to the transport plan are to be upgraded to carry increased business and freight traffic.

The desirability of large scale and high-rise residential growth along main vehicle and freight routes is highly questionable on many levels including its appeal, liveability, and major health and social impacts.

The Planning Minister continues to ignore the engagement principles and recommendations in the Premier’s adopted “Better Together” engagement strategy. Wake up Mr Rau and Mr Weatherill and give us the community engagement in planning that we want and deserve.

The community wants a real say in accommodating expected population growth, through sensitive infill and urban rejuvenation, preserving the character of our areas and heritage assets and ensuring infrastructure is in place.

 

 

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