Category Archives: Media

MEDIA RELEASE – A Chainsaw Massacre is Coming to Glenside

 Yes the chain saws are coming to the Glenside Hospital site despite overwhelming community opposition, This means death to the koalas and other small Australian animals and insects that live in these beautiful, historic Glenside trees . What a disaster for the community who love the serenity, peace and healing ambience of Glenside.

The SA government appointed Development Assessment Commission (DAC) has decided that developer Cedar Woods can go ahead and chop down 83 of the 150 protected trees at Glenside plus hundreds more unprotected trees. In line with SA government approved planning laws the DAC has given Cedar Woods a licence to kill the native animals, destroy the nesting places of birds, and obliterate all the wild life from scarce marsupials to the tiny insects that all play such an important role in keeping our environment ticking over.

At the DAC hearing on the 9 March, which went on for four hours, the developer Cedar Woods had representatives at the meeting who were invited to speak, but in breach of the principles of “natural” justice, nobody from the community was allowed to speak when the decision was made to give developer Cedar Woods permission to chop the Glenside trees down, or even attend.

Tom Matthews, chair of Community Alliance said “There are no appeal rights, the developer has all the rights in the world but we the people of South Australia have no rights at all. This is a scandal. Where is the justice in this when the people have their voice stolen by a government apparently driven only by development industry greed? Cedar Woods isn’t even a South Australian Company!

Two years ago we were told that most of the trees would be retained. We were soothed gently and quietly by the government’s assurances and promises. Eloquent statements that now appear to have been cynical, self-serving lies.

Community Consultation? “Yes we were consulted” said Tom Matthews “and yes they listened to what we had to say but Renewal SA and the government took absolutely no notice of us whatever – it was a slimy, duplicitous done deal from the beginning”

 “We have a Minister for the Environment” said Mr. Matthews “but he has gone missing in action. The Minister has said nothing about the Glenside Trees and done nothing to save them. Why does the government bother to have a Minister for the Environment who does nothing to save our irreplaceable urban ecosystems? “

A Clean and Green SA government? Definitely not. On the one hand the government proudly bangs on about wind farm energy generation but on the other hand, has no qualms about chopping trees down and destroying our defenceless little animals.

Now for the next Con. The Planning Minister wants a Charter of Community Participation legislated in the new Planning Act but the Community Alliance says that the Charter will be a total waste of time.

“Why would any one believe that the SA Government listens, when it totally ignores people’s suggestions and concerns? We never hear back from any submissions or hearings. Nothing. Silence”. Mr Matthews said “This is a government that holds the concerned citizens of South Australia in complete contempt.”

 We live here because we like living in South Australia but we sure do NOT like what our Planning Minister is doing. Minister – we want our Glenside Trees saved. Just do it. The Trees, Animals Birds and Insects do good things for us.

Download .PDF

 For further information contact Tom Matthews, 0429 337 453 President Community Alliance SA

Rally to Protect Glenside Trees – March 2017

Cut the spin and secrecy in planning processes

Dr Robert Crocker, InDaily  12 September 2012 –

Despite the State Government’s assurances, and recent sweeping changes to the planning and development regime, the underlying legal and administrative process shaping the present development assessment system remains unchanged.

It is, in many respects, secretive, lacking in transparency and accountability, legalistic and adversarial. It involves processes that effectively shut out the voices of the communities most affected.

A couple of standout examples are the large, poorly designed “urban regeneration” project at Port Adelaide, which nearly lost the Labor government its safest seat; a “land swap” deal in Woodville where a century-old park and local landmark was turned over, virtually overnight, for a new housing estate, again without any appropriate consultation process; and a large tract of prime agricultural land at Mt Barker being “re-zoned” to make way for a substantial housing estate, again without credible consultation or explanation.

I could fill up this whole article with similar woeful stories, many of which will continue to affect the local communities.

The pattern these stories reveal is a consistent one of poor process; seemingly affected by politics; secretive, sometimes unaccountable decision-making; potential conflicts of interest; and a record of less than meaningful consultation, where the people most affected are called on afterwards to largely “rubber-stamp” what has been decided. When they oppose these disasters, they are labelled “anti-development” – a term that obscures the real and often justifiable reasons for their anger and frustration with the current system.

One problem is that all power in the current system resides with the State Government, the one branch of government none of us has consciously chosen to manage our development needs. Simply giving the Government power to make these often complex decisions, at its discretion, is bad policy and bad law.

Under this regime, if a council’s expert planning and development committee rejects a proposal on reasonable grounds, the developer can appeal to the Environmental Resources Development Court, the Planning Minister, or to an alternative but overriding state government panel of experts (the Development Assessment Commission). Unlike the council, these bodies can make their decisions without engaging the community most affected.

The resulting lack of transparency and accountability, and the difficulty of making any genuine objections heard, has left those involved feeling they are caught in a closed, legalistic and adversarial process.

Secondly, the current system works in a way which is designed for the consultants and lawyers, rather than the broader community it is supposed to serve. It provides no early opportunity to engage the community on the proposed development; instead, preliminary consultation, restricted by some extremely narrow categories, occurs well after the developer has committed large sums on consultants and “locked in” a design, however overblown this might be.

This means many people hear about a large new development in their neighbourhood through the local press. It also means that any “negotiation” that occurs over the design happens in a legalistic setting behind closed doors, with much of the technical information on the decisions made kept secret from the community for pseudo-legal reasons.

Bad decisions, once made, can be appealed only in a setting that guarantees a high cost, a scary courtroom appearance, and an almost inevitable failure for the little guy. This generates a lot of anger and frustration, and a deep cynicism about the process itself.

Thirdly, the “consultation” processes now used are seen as mostly window-dressing for decisions already made. So in Port Adelaide, Woodville, Cheltenham and Mt Barker, the public view is that “consultation” occurred after the decision to go ahead had been made “in camera”.

In none of these cases was the reason for the decision adequately explained, naturally giving rise to suspicions of political factors coming into play. Even state parliament, it seems, cannot extract the full reasons for these decisions from the Minister. Instead, those who make the effort to attend consultation meetings are left feeling they have been given “spin” about each development’s future benefits. It is not surprising most residents treated in this way will not trust the process.

The idea that such a process – lacking the desired levels of transparency, accountability or community engagement – can somehow deliver “sustainability” for South Australia is laughable.

To regain public trust in development, we need more than glossy brochures and spin. While the idea of bringing in a panel of expert designers to look over an initial plan might be very sensible, even good design cannot be sold without due process – that is, without proper transparency, accountability and community engagement.

Dr Robert Crocker is an executive member of Community Alliance SA, a new umbrella group of residents’ associations dedicated to changing the development and planning regime in South Australia. He is also a senior lecturer in the School of Art, Architecture and Design at the UniSA.