A Dream or a Nightmare?

Is Council’s dream of a Civic Centre Redevelopment turning into a nightmare long before it can even get started. Is it a dream or a nightmare?

oxford-terrace_montageThat is the question I and I think everyone else is asking after it has been mixed up with and confused the Unley Central DPA.

I wrote in my blog post on 31 October that Council had a vision of revitalising the Unley Central Precinct.

What we did not have (and still don’t) was a dream for what a redevelopment could provide our fair city. We had no dream of what the redevelopment might look like. Just a heap of thoughts of what might be but no solid dream.

We were looking to you to help us develop this dream. We set aside 12 months starting in March of next year to achieve this.

Amid claims in your feedback to the Unley DPA that we lack transparency it appears you are not interested in the slightest at seeing what we might be able to do. This is a pity and a concern.

A pity because what I see you telling us is you don’t want anything to change. This implies they are perfect now. Notwithstanding this however I constantly hear that things are not perfect.

A concern because we have instead of building a dream by ourselves and keeping you out of the loop we wanted to start the dream building process, with a blank sheet, with you. The ultimate I would have thought in transparency but with you believing otherwise the conversation has been all about what you don’t want.

We must take the blame for this failure in communication. Realistically we should have held back with the announcement until well after the DPA process had completed so to avoid confusing you. Maybe then we would have had a chance to start a conversation without the angst that clearly exists at present.

A dream or a  nightmare? Can we, will we, have a conversation later or will either:

1   you refuse to engage with us about what can be or,

2  Council have cold feet and think it is too hard.

In either case the old saying applies here. If the Dream is Big Enough the Facts Don’t Count. What dream? I believe neither of us know what the dream is and that is why we are were we are.





  1. Robert A Jones   •  


    The residents of Unley are not against development per say and there are plenty of locations that would benefit from that. Unley precinct isn’t one of those locations and building a multi store apartment block in the middle of the city is clearly against the wishes of the residents.

    If the council did their homework, there really isn’t that much demand for multistorey apartments outside the CBD and even there the market isn’t that buoyant .. The current forecast predicts a glut of apartments in the coming years across Australia leading to empty apartments, short term rentals and student accommodation …

    Seriously, do we want to turn the Unley precinct into a centre for short term accommodation ??. The city of Unley is probably the most desirable location in Adelaide let’s keep it that way.

    • Don Palmer   •     Author

      Sorry for not responding sooner Robert. As you are talking I presume on just the proposed Civic Centre redevelopment I will direct my response to just this. Council is I believe doing their homework. That is why we put this potential redevelopment in front of our community before the DPA was complete.

      We are doing what we believe is incumbent on us. That is to explore opportunities to improve the services we provide and/or provide new services. Selling the air rights above the civic centre is an opportunity that should be explored. And that is all it is.

      There is no proposed development at this point in time. We are focused on having a conversation with our community about what services could be improved or new ones provided given the opportunity that we now have. A conversation we have given 4 months notice of that; we intend to commence in March.

      There has to be an identified benefit to our community before we can consider what form a redevelopment might take.

      That I would have thought constitutes doing our homework.

  2. Warren Jones   •  

    Sorry Don, not a dream, a nightmare. It’s a pity you and Council didn’t share your nocturnal fantasies with us before it was all too late.
    And I for one can do without your fatuous and patronising comments.
    Warren Jones

    • Don Palmer   •     Author

      You leave me totally puzzled Warren.

      In what way is it leaving it too late? If you are referring to the Civic Centre redevelopment proposal there is no design, no form, no nothing. We gave advanced notice ( 4 months in fact) that we would seek input from you and your neighbours to see if there was anything we could achieve by redeveloping the site, noting we expected the conversation to take 12 months. In other words we are bringing you in on the ground floor. Too late means it is a done deal and the building is about to be built.

      If you are talking about the DPA which is a totally separate issue, then we can do what many have recently asked and that is to tell the government where to get off. If we do that then watch out because the possible developments can be heights way in excess of what we currently are proposing.

  3. Cathy   •  

    Interesting dilemmas. I had no idea that if the community doesn’t come up with something itself that the State govt will force its own wishes upon it. That makes me want to be more tolerant of the Unley Rd plans.

    I guess I have two issues to raise.

    First is that you shouldn’t go higher than 5 stories, I think that’s an obvious lesson from Europe, nobody wants to live higher than that.

    Second is that the merging of old and new always looks awful. It preserves things in ways that are meaningless in practice. There are modern shopping areas you could knock down in that area for apartments: the Metro shopping centre and the car dealership that is a bit further south. Surely apartments would improve these spaces aesthetically without detracting from the attractiveness of the historic Council chamber area.

    • Don Palmer   •     Author

      Thank you once again Cathy. Your contribution is always considered and appreciated.

      Our community is not aware of what can be developed in the Unley Central area as we speak. Any DPA that is finally put to the minister, whether the current draft or any subsequent draft that comes from our response to the public consultation, will be reducing the heights from what is possible now. That is because there is NO height restriction currently in the Unley Central Precinct other than that imposed by the Airport Authority.

      There is only one restriction to redevelopment in the precinct. That is that there shall be no residential development.

      We have to be careful in what we finally put to the Minister. The Minister may, if he is so inclined, dismiss what we put to him if he considers it as an irresponsible attempt to align with his government’s 30 year plan.

      Should he do that we could have one change only to the current development plan. That will be to keep the current non height restrictions and to allow residential development. And he can do that with one stroke of a pen.

      PS I am hearing rumours that the government is considering removing Councils from this process altogether in the near future.

  4. indira Wrigley   •  

    I would be interested to understand how “the heap of thoughts” that you and the other Councillors had for the Civic Centre Redevelopment would have addressed the issues that you say people are raising with you when you “constantly hear that things are not perfect”. Mayor Clyne’s media release made mention of “improved civic and community facilities” is this what you mean? I cannot imagine how the 150 new apartments mentioned in that media release would address the issues being raised with you by residents.

    • Don Palmer   •     Author

      This is why I question whether it is a dream or a nightmare Indira.

      Council has an obligation to continuously explore how it might improve the services we provide our community if not provide new services. With increased density allowed in an area were we in fact own property provides an opportunity to consider if redevelopment can be used to achieve this. Selling the air space for 150 apartments that previously could not be built because would in theory fund the provision of the accommodation for these services. The rates that the additional accommodation would provide also permits on going funding.

      Does that mean a redevelopment project is likely to happen. No it does not. Like you indicated in your submission Indira Council, like those to whom you referred as having business acumen, is not going to proceed with a redevelopment unless and until it is considered viable.

      The whole idea of exploring the opportunity that the DPA provides is to test if it is feasible. And our intention was to have a conversation with the community that was earmarked to take a year so that we could ascertain what if any improvement we could make to our services we provide you.

      You are passionate about your neighbourhood Indira. Your submission covered both the DPA and the Civic Centre redevelopment. Would you be interested in having a coffee with me in the near future so I can better respond to the various questions you are asking me on both.

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