We now have an opportunity to divert the course of the deeply flawed Planning and Design Code into a new phase of genuine consultation, review and amendment.
If there was ever a need for a review of the damaging activities of the State Commission Assessment Panel (SCAP), it can be seen in two recent decisions which unashamedly favour developers over heritage and responsible urban planning.
The approval of a 17 storey motel in Wright St will see the effective destruction of a row of bluestone cottages with the unsatisfactory retention of the façade.
The second Adelaide City Council approval is for a 21 storey glass-clad hotel at the former Bank of Adelaide site on Pirie St and will involve the complete removal of the heritage listed 1920’s former bank building (below).
Both properties slated for demolition are local heritage listed. The proposed developments have been criticised by the State Government Architect. The cautionary aspect of these decisions is that, within the City of Adelaide, application approvals can bypass heritage and height criteria in the name of the designs being ‘merit based’.
The flexible interpretation of this meaningless definition means that SCAP can be complicit in aiding developers in flouting what should be immutable design criteria, if not regulations.
This foreshadows what is ahead across the metropolitan area if the Planning and Design code is implemented in its current form. The development rules that have protected our heritage and urban amenity for decades will be ditched for an anything goes approach with unelected and unaccountable bodies such as SCAP making decisions that will impact everyone.
But the advent of new Planning Minister Vickie Chapman creates an opportunity to have the Code reassessed and amended. I urge you to continue to keep up the pressure, by re-enforcing with her your concerns about the Code at her Bragg Electoral Office.
It seems clear that the Government has decided to take ultimate control of the new planning process out of the hands of an irresponsible bureaucracy which has created such a chaotic mess. This could be a real circuit-breaker in our efforts to be heard.
As I have indicated previously, the other effective avenue for protest and change is the Parliamentary Legislative Review Committee as it considers the 14,000 signature Petition submitted by the Protect our Heritage Alliance. The LRC is now seeking written public submissions regarding the matters raised in the petition.
The Petition calls for further, but genuine, consultation on the Planning and Design Code, an examination of the governance of the State Planning Commission and SCAP to increase transparency and accountability and minimise conflicts of interest, and a review of the content and impact of the draft Code. It also calls for the banning of donations to political parties by developers.
Your submissions on any aspect of the Petition and the Code will be accepted by the Committee by close of business on Monday 14 September.
Please make your views known. This may be the last opportunity.
FIX THE CODE BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!
Write to your local MP and ask for an independent review of the management and costs of the Planning & Design Code, before it progresses any further.