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Managing the growth of our cities - SA Planning Reform

1st Feb 16

Managing the growth of our cities is vital to achieving sustainable, prosperous and liveable communities.Planning is an important tool in effectively managing the numerous and rapid changes facing our communities, and in determining how to accommodate additional population.

Good planning requires high quality, transparent and efficient planning practices and systems. This includes providing opportunities for the community and key stakeholders to actively contribute to the planning process in a manner that is inclusive, respectful and genuine. It also requires evidence-based planning and a legislative system that is responsive.

PIA SA has been advocating for more detail to be provided on the Bill, which has been the subject of debate in the Legislative Council this past week.The amendment passed by the Legislative Council on Tuesday 8th December 2015 to remove a legislative mechanism for an urban boundary in the Bill is disappointing, not because we think it necessary (although it may well be part of the answer to managing growth), but because it highlights the lack of engagement on an important planning issue. We also believe an absence of policy detail has led to reaction motivated by fear. This has resulted in a rehash of arguments put forward following the introduction of an urban boundary in 2002 by the then Planning Minister, Hon Di Laidlaw.

The planning profession understands that there is a need to contain urban sprawl because of the environmental, economic and social costs of spreading development further north and south of Adelaide and across the Hills. Containing urban sprawl has flow on effects. Modern communities that promote walking and public transport over the accident prone car is not only better for the environment and saves on infrastructure costs it is much better for the occupants who are healthier and happier - leading to longer more fulfilled lives.

There is a need to protect our important agricultural areas, our watershed and what is left of our native vegetation. PIA SA position is that we cannot afford to continue to provide new infrastructure on the fringes of Adelaide when there is a need to upgrade and replace ageing infrastructure in our inner and middle ring suburbs. And we do future communities a disservice by simply allowing low density development to spread further from jobs, services and infrastructure and to create places where the only means of getting around is by car. Focus should be on walkable communities where health by walking and avoiding the accident prone car is desirable.

We acknowledge the arguments about housing affordability, but do not believe that providing more land supply on the fringes of Adelaide is the answer. While housing may be cheap, the costs of transport makes living in these places unaffordable. Nonetheless, there is ample existing supply to cater for that market. PIA SA advocates for greater housing supply and more diverse options in existing neighbourhoods that are rich in infrastructure, close to jobs and services and desirable places to live. We believe that more infill development is possible while being respectful of valued character and heritage through good design and respectful dialogue with communities.

If the Minister Rau wants to revisit a legislated urban boundary, we encourage him to provide more evidence of the need to manage urban growth, why an urban boundary is required and how a legislative mechanism can assist to achieving this. We ask for more details, better engagement and, most of all, good planning.



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