Parliament Speech - Medium Density Housing

Mr PICTON (Kaurna): I rise to talk about an important issue in the southern suburbs, and that is the medium density housing policy of the City of Onkaparinga. Of course, the City of Onkaparinga is not an inner city council; it is in the outermost southern suburbs of Adelaide, up to 40 kilometres away from the city. In 2010, the City of Onkaparinga changed its development plan and introduced what it called Medium Density Policy Area 40. A massive 2,200 hectares was designated in that zone across what I think is a random assortment of areas.

Take Port Noarlunga South in my electorate, which is a relatively similar suburb all over. The suburb was divided along ordinary suburban streets; one side was in and the other side was out. One side would have ordinary houses in residential zones and the other was put in Area 40 where pretty much anything goes. There is no need for good design of properties. There is no need to have proper consideration of neighbouring properties or the location.

I have spoken to many residents over the past four years who have been impacted by these developments in their suburbs, 30-plus kilometres away from the city centre, as have the members for Reynell and Fisher. I believe this zoning went far and above the permissible zoning in council areas right next to the city, where you have access to the whole range of major services and transport corridors that you do not have in the outer suburbs. In fact I was shocked when I was told by some councillors that, when the plan was proposed by council staff and they voted for it, they did not really know what the staff were putting in front of them at the time and they did not understand the ramifications, and they now regret the decision they made.

Council failed in their duty to represent the people in proposing this plan in 2010 for the area's best interest. Everywhere I went, every street I doorknocked in these areas, people would raise their serious concerns with me. Many people said what council was approving was impacting upon their physical and mental wellbeing. I have seen some shockers built. Cheap designs with little light or little, if any, green space. I have been told council encouraged people to put more houses on subdivided blocks than they originally wanted to. Many residents have raised these issues directly with me. For instance, Garry from Moana said:

”It's understandable that infrastructure pressures have resulted in subdivisions whereby one house has been replaced with two dwellings…However, crowding five units onto a corner block will surely look out of place and reflect a developer's lack of interest in maintaining the character of our suburb.”

Elaine from Christies Beach said:
“Round the corner from where I live, they are demolishing two old houses and replacing them with eight two-storey properties. The council seems to be approving everything developers put before them, and many residents believe that the council is only interested in the extra rates it will raise if they squeeze as many buildings as possible onto one block.”

Jude from Moana was concerned about:
“Five townhouses joined together, no gaps, situated right in the middle of all of us. Although it would be lovely to retain full- sized blocks, we understand and are not against subdivision done properly, but this proposal is outrageous.”

Margaret from Christies Beach said:
“When I look out of any of my rear windows or back door, all I will see is a huge grey concrete wall well over 20 metres in height and I will have no light in my front yard after midday.”

So over two years ago, together with the member for Reynell and Fisher, I wrote to the mayor of Onkaparinga raising our concerns with this policy. We raised concerns about the minimum block size, the privacy of residents, car parking impact on the developments, the need to factor in natural light, the lack of consultation that council was not conducting with residents and the need for these developments to fit into an overall plan.

I am now pleased that Onkaparinga has proposed an alternative plan and pleased that the planning minister has agreed to the new plan, taking immediate interim effect. It was very positive that earlier in the year the council organised for a tour with the Minister for Planning to show some of the developments council now admits were poorly designed and not fitting for the area. The revised plan addresses a number of the concerns raised.

Suburbs such as Port Noarlunga South and Moana will be excised. Block sizes will be increased. Design principles will be improved. Setbacks from the road will be increased. However, I remain concerned about a number of factors in the plan. In particular, there are new areas that have been brought into the medium density zone that are not there already—parts of Noarlunga Downs in the new electorate of Kaurna being one example. Some areas have now been deemed to be a target infill precinct, particularly around Seaford, Noarlunga Downs, Christies Beach and Aldinga Beach.

I think it is clear from my conversations with residents that council has not communicated to these residents the impact that this will have on their neighbourhood. Very few residents are aware of what is being planned in these new zonings. In fact, they had one meeting to consult with the public at Seaford but only gave people one day's notice for the meeting, and many people got the notice in their letterbox after the meeting had been held; hence, we may well be back here a few years' time to address this.

I will continue to do my job in advocating on behalf of the community. I will support the improvements to this plan but will be discussing with residents some of the risks that this plan also contains.


Chris Picton MP, Member for Kaurna
Speech in House of Assembly

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