Population density: a difficult but essential balancing act

Professor Bill Randolph, Director of the City Futures Research Centre at the University of NSW, has spoken out on the failure of Australian cities to get the balance right when it comes to population density.   He spoke on News.com.au today:

“You can do good density and you can do dumb density and it’s the dumb density you need to be careful about,” Prof Randolph says

“There are very well designed high density suburbs and very poorly designed high density suburbs. The problem is the quality varies tremendously.”

There was too much enthusiasm for tower blocks stuffed full of one and two bedroom units, rather than the “missing middle” of medium density suburbs with smaller developments and townhouses, he said.

Formal oversight of developments was lacking in many areas. “Government really has to nail apartment quality and set clear guidelines. Rather than the wild west system where developers are allowed to put applications in for height and then break through existing height controls.”

“You have to have frameworks that encourage good design, good quality, open space and appropriate amenity around buildings.”

Read the article here – Experts say more needs to be done to stop suburbs from bad developments

Adelaide should find real solutions to its population growth rather than repeating the mistakes of other cities.

Recent visions for Adelaide

Adelaide’s city squares aren’t just for decoration – and it’s time we put them all to better use, writes architect Gerald Matthews:  InDaily – It’s time to think inside the city square

Dr Sam Shahin, whose family empire includes the On the Run chain, has written his top-10 list of measures aimed at making the city more bustling, attractive and convenient:  Advertiser – Tycoon Sam Shahin’s 10-point plan to enliven Adelaide

Light Rail – to be or not to be?

Our President Helen Wilmore attended the Lord Mayor’s Light Rail Summit on 21st April.  From a community perspective the Summit focussed on:

  • The aim of the Government’s proposed light rail, or tram, network in city building, bringing increased commercial and residential densities
  • The importance of ‘public domain improvements’ (eg street furniture, artworks, rejuvenation etc) occurring alongside the creation of light rail routes
  • Funding needing to come from all three tiers of government
  • The need for value capture ie an annual levy on ratepayers in a designated ‘benefiting area’
  • Criticism of the State Government’s rezoning of the areas for increased densities without ‘value capture’ mechanisms in place
  • The importance of bringing people along – engagement with and commitment from stakeholders are critical early on in the process, to get the best outcomes and mitigate problems such as local access issues, amenity, loss of trees, right turns and traffic congestion

News reports on the Summit:

Channel Nine News – New tram lines may finally branch out across Adelaide but ratepayers may pick up the tab

InDaily – Councils place a bet every way on trams funding

InDaily – No free ride: Govt flags “community” contribution to SA tram extensions

Advertiser – AdeLINK: State Government, councils, transport experts meet to discuss Adelaide tram network

The Blobfish prefers trams to buses

Blobfish travels by bus

Update on the new planning legislation

Mark Parnell MLC, Parliamentary Leader of the SA Greens, has given us this update from his perspective:

After several months of debate, the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Bill finally passed through both Houses of Parliament last week.  Whilst the new system will take years to implement fully and there will be more Bills to come, I thought I would share with you now some of the positive and negative aspects of this new legislation. Continue reading Update on the new planning legislation

Experts speak out against  Adelaide’s sprawl

There are many good reasons why Adelaide needs an urban growth boundary, and experts spoke out recently as SA Parliament debates Minister Rau’s legislation to protect environment and food production areas from further sprawl:

Michael Buxton, a Planning Professor at Victoria’s RMIT University and one of Australia’s foremost planning experts, says it would be a “shocking mistake” for parliament to reject John Rau’s plan to enshrine an urban growth boundary in legislation, warning the economic upside of protecting South Australia’s food bowl from development is “enormous”: InDaily – Warning of “Urban deserts” on Adelaide’s fringe

George Giannakodakis, Managing Director of urban planning and engineering consultancy Infraplan, says that limiting Adelaide’s urban sprawl will be good for the city and jobs: InDaily – Why capping Adelaide’s urban sprawl is good for everyone

Adelaide has an estimated 90 years’ of infill supply within John Rau’s proposed urban growth boundary.
Adelaide has an estimated 90 years’ of infill supply within John Rau’s proposed urban growth boundary.

“One of Adelaide’s most destructive planning eras”

In this month’s Adelaide Review, Sir Montefiore Scuttlebutt highlights the Weatherill Government’s indifference to the value of Adelaide’s heritage character, and describes Planning Minister John Rau’s four-year drive to rezone the city and its edges as “one of Adelaide’s most destructive planning eras”:

Sir Montefiore Scuttlebutt on Adelaides heritage value – March 2016 Adelaide Review

The report “Economic Value of Heritage Tourism in the City of Adelaide 2015” was released in December 2015 and recognises significant tourism value in the heritage stock of the city and North Adelaide.

Tell us your stories

Although most building developments in this state are appropriate, there are an increasing number that seem out of place or that would even, in most people’s opinions, be “seriously at variance” with the local Development Plan.

The State Government’s desire to remove the “seriously at variance” clause from the planning legislation would make matters even worse.

If you have any stories to share on developments (or proposed developments) you think are out of place, please contact us.

From Sue Ward:

EDIT

Another development that the SA Gov. has given major project status to…
270 The Parade which is the administrative headquarters for OTR/Peregrine, which is owned by the Shahin family. The current building which is 2 storey is to be replaced by a 5-6 storey building, which will incorporate a restaurant on the ground floor, 2 levels of carpark, 2 levels of administration and a deck on top. This site is on the very busy corner of the Parade and Portrush Rd and presumably will stretch from the Parade right across to High St. Details have been announced by the Shahin family in the Advertiser 26/11/15 and in the local paper. The proposal has been gazettted at that time. When the more detailed proposal is released interested parties will have a very short time to respond. This is happening before the rezoning of this section of the Parade has been properly addressed. This is a precinct with significant state heritage buildings, 2 schools, homes and small businesses and streets that are already struggling with parking needs and a highway that has a large no. of heavy vehicles using it constantly.

 

From Travis Algate:

I am in the unfortunate position of being next door to a newly proposed multi-storey residential apartment block to be located at 225 Prospect Road (5 storeys, 32 apartments, 40 car parking spaces!). It’s a big problem for me, not least of which includes 16 balconies directly overlooking front and back yard private open spaces with no set-backs, noise/light/air pollution within 3m of bedrooms, massive shadowing problems (basically I may never see the sunlight again!), and significant safety issues owing to the number of cars (in close proximity to a major intersection). That’s just for a start….! The problem is compounded by a second development at 227-229 Prospect Road (4 storeys, 24 apartments, 29 car parking spaces). That’s 69 additional cars entering Prospect Road, within 50m of a major intersection, where I believe dangerously unsafe conditions already exist!

At this stage, I feel like I am fighting this ridiculous situation all on my own. I am no expert on building regulations, the Development Act, Development Plans etc, and have zero experience with appeal processes.

Yet I know that that there are a great many people affected by similar development problems all over Adelaide.

It is my belief that local and state authorities are relying on this fragmented inexperienced objection to development proposals in order to get what they want (at the expense of the safety, privacy and amenity of local residents). Short term investment rewards with very long term implications for our suburbs and residents…

My voice is but one, and I can’t help but feel the residents of the many affected areas of SA might be stronger if we act together as a combined force.

We are an umbrella organisation representing resident and community groups Dedicated to 'Putting the People back into Planning and Development in SA'. Our goal is a planning and development process which is accountable, transparent and sustainable, And that guarantees genuine community engagement.