The South Australian government is imposing a firm boundary on urban sprawl, with plans to legislate an outer limit for urban development to prevent the loss of prime agricultural land. The move is part of a comprehensive overhaul of the planning system that aims to prioritise urban infill projects close to existing infrastructure and improve the overall sustainability of Adelaide.
The government has also committed to renewing all social housing stock constructed before 1968 within the next 15 years, with an initial plan announced for the renewal of 4500 South Australian Housing Trust homes in areas within 10 kilometres of the CBD by 2020.
The social housing redevelopment will be carried out by RenewalSA.
Fairlie Delbridge, the organisation’s general manager strategy and innovation, told The Fifth Estate there were large groups of housing trust homes clustered in specific areas that were “prime for renewal”.
While specific details of staging and the types of new dwellings that will be constructed are yet to be finalised, sustainability will be a fundamental principle.
“Renewal SA is committed to developing sustainable communities with environmental sustainability a key factor. New Housing Trust homes will prioritise energy efficiency, water conservation and reduction of waste,” Ms Delbridge said.
SA deputy premier and planning minister John Rau said the redevelopment plans would focus on meeting the needs of the diverse and changing demographic profile of SA Housing Trust tenants. There is now more need for smaller one- and two-bedroom homes, and less need for the older style larger homes.
Areas with the highest vacancy rates will be targeted first to minimise disruption to tenants, and where clusters of housing exist, planning will look to renewal on a street and suburb scale to enable more opportunities for higher density and infill development.
The push for infill development will also enable the government to stand firm on an urban growth boundary in the face of pressure from developers, while also ensuring sufficient housing for a growing population.
“We need to be smart about the way we expand our city,” Mr Rau said.
“Utilising opportunities for urban infill will be a priority, rather than expanding our city into prime agricultural land.
“A robust urban growth boundary will mean control over the release of land outside. This will take the responsibility away from the individual minister and removes the potential for people pushing their own agendas to secure re-zones behind closed doors.”
Mr Rau said any future moves to shift the boundary outwards would require discussions in “full public view”, as expanding the city footprint is a decision that impacts the entire community.
“While it may seem a low cost alternative to develop land at the urban fringe, in reality, in costs to the state taxpayers it is very expensive,” Mr Rau said.
The government is also soon to release its response to the recommendations of the Expert Panel on Planning Reform, and new legislation to replace the Development Act of 1993 is to be introduced into parliament by SA’s minister for planning later this year.
“People need to have more of a say in the way their communities are developed, and the planning system,” Mr Rau said. “At the moment is complicated and wrapped up in too much red tape.
“I want our planning system to be accessible for people and easy to understand. We need to do away with red tape and regulation that inhibits investment.”
The panel’s recommendations included reinforcing and expanding precinct planning; integrating open space and the public realm in the planning system; and the development of a charter of citizen participation that enables community engagement to occur earlier in the planning process when options are being considered, rather than the current model of “rearguard action” when solid proposals reach the final assessment stage.