A Rebuttal to Terry Walsh

Terry Walsh repeats the tired old mantra that there is a “gaping chasm” between the Development Act and Regulations and local councils Development Plans (“The relaxation of building heights is modest – the Gold Coast is definitely not coming to Adelaide” The Advertiser 12 March 2013). Will developers ever be satisfied that local councils and communities are not impeding the developers’ dream of untrammelled development?

Fortunately we don’t live in China and Adelaide residents still have the right to protest if they don’t like the rezoning changes proposed by their local councils at the behest of the lofty visions in the State government’s 30 Year Plan for Greater Adelaide.

“The new urban form” promulgated in the this document and the ominously titled “Inner Rim Structure Plan” proposes that citizens must be encouraged, pressured or obliged to live in multi-storey flats.

Sure Mr. Walsh thinks this upward sprawl is not high. But try telling that to families who paid good prices to buy into attractive low-density R1 leafy suburbs which just happen to be next to the River Torrens Linear Park. Many of these residents are aghast at council plans to turn their streets into monolithic 4-storey blocks of flats lining Linear Park. Would Mr. Walsh be happy with 4-storey flats marching down his street towards his family home and garden?

Inner suburban councils are being obliged to bring in quite radical changes to their Development Plans to allow for multi-storey flats. 10-storey ones proposed for several main roads is a marked departure from these suburbs’ development to date, as is 3-5 storeys in other residential areas where people mainly live in single-storey detached houses. While congratulating several inner urban councils for their “leadership”, Mr. Walsh’s Urban Development Institute is not satisfied with the 10-storey height limit and has called for higher multi-storey flats - 20-storeys for Dequetteville Terrace, for instance.

In 10 years time, the UDI will be calling for these height limits to be lifted again in the pursuit of profits and temporary jobs. We do need employment, services and housing for people but economic development should not come at the price of people’s quality of life. Housing makes up a large part of this quality of life.

If this quality is to be sacrificed in the name of economic growth, then clearly there is something very wrong with the notion of growth. A bigger pie does not mean a better pie.
In the interests of citizens, it is the responsibility of governments to rein in the excesses of property developers not to kow-tow to them. Rather than bland, centralised cookie cutter planning, local councils should be discussing with residents to identify the unique characteristics of neighbourhoods within their boundaries and tailoring zoning to foster the growth of those characteristic. In the interests of citizens, it is the responsibility of governments to rein in the excesses of property developers not to kow-tow to them.

Evonne Moore