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South Australia’s new Planning and Design Code was implemented on 19th March 2021 after a long saga of delays, bureaucratic bumblings, political posturing, sham consultations and confusion. On its release, the Code, in its combined paper and electronic formats, totalled 62,000 pages. The hard copy alone weighed seven kilos; the size of a substantial turkey.

It is significant that the next State Election is scheduled for 12 months to the day after the Code implementation. It is important that the deleterious effects of the Code already experienced in our built and natural heritage and environment be widely recognised and brought to account at the ballot box on
 March 19, 2022.

Since the implementation of the Planning and Design Code, the South Australian community has experienced serious and far-reaching anomalies in the planning process, which, if ignored or uncorrected, will impinge on our proud heritage and lived environment well into the future:

  • The prioritising of inappropriate development over heritage, history and community amenity. The failure to recognise that heritage protection and active preservation can be significant contributors to economic growth, employment and tourism.
  • A general weakening of heritage protection and demolition controls. This is becoming apparent in the extent of loss of heritage and character properties and the spread of ugly, crowded infill in urban areas.
  • The weakening and bypassing of controls on the extent and height of high rise developments in suburban Adelaide.
  • The abrogation of individual rights of protest and appeal for new developments and the weakening of Local Council controls.
  • The absence of effective tree controls in South Australia, in contrast to all other States.

  • The maintenance of covert loopholes and ‘wriggle room’ in planning processes which allows developers to destroy trees, reduce open space and bypass building controls.

  • The irresponsible neglect of the status and importance of State Heritage Items. In recent times we have seen: the unnecessary loss of the Victor Harbor Causeway, a commercial development on the site of the Prospect Horse Tram Barn, the narrowly averted destruction of the Waite Gatehouse Lodge, and, the Government's proposals to abrogate the heritage status and public accessibility of Martindale Hall and Ayers House.

  • And, perhaps the most alarming of all the insults, the proposal to turn over 10% of our National Heritage-listed Parklands to commercial and retail development.


In April 2020, a 14,000 signature Petition was presented to the Legislative Council on behalf of the Protect our Heritage Alliance. The Petition raised concerns about the content and implementation of the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act PDI Act) and the Planning and Design Code, and requested independent reviews of their impacts, public accountability, risk assessment and governance.

In addition it asked for a ban on developers’ donations to political parties.

The parliamentary Legislative Review Committee’s Report on the Petition was released in November 2021. The Report examined the many flaws and impacts of the new planning ‘reforms’ and made 14 strong recommendations for regulatory and legislative change, which you can read more about, here.