Redevelopment of Keswick Barracks is not new and it remains premature.

Our Mayor was recently caught up in a public conversation about Redevelopment of Keswick Barracks. Discussions on redevelopment of this site is not new and it remains premature. 

 

Keswick Barracks & Surrounds Urban Design Framework

Keswick Barracks & Surrounds Urban Design Framework

In my blog post of 21 March I indicated we were not involved with any discussions. I also acknowledged that there was some chatter at Council some 6 or so years ago.

My memory was reasonable but lacked detail.

I can now say that redevelopment of Keswick Barracks is not new and it remains premature. It was then and it is now. As I indicated in my blog post of 21 March, until and unless the Department for Defence wants to quit the property, and talk is indeed premature.

The discussion, on checking, was actually 9 years ago. As it was, it wasn’t just a casual chat. It was a formal study. A study called Keswick Barracks and Surrounds Urban Design Framework.

We finalised a discussion commenced by the previous Council to my election in 2010. A discussion that was in fact a precinct study of the area. Not just the area of the Barracks but including the (then) Le Cornu site, the Showgrounds site and across the road into the City of West Torrens, and the Interstate Railway Depot.

The study explored development potential. It also recognised the heritage value of the precinct. Heritage, both cultural and defence. In so doing, it promoted how to protect and enhance that heritage.

Work progressed through 2009 with a preliminary study and a final Urban Design Framework in 2010, presented and adopted by council in April 2011. We undertook discussions with strategic partners including a range of government agencies, adjacent large land owners and major developer stakeholders to gauge their views on the future of the precinct.

This clear framework is invaluable if opportunities do arise. We trust that if or whenever opportunities may arise in the future, that Council will be included in the conversation. Only then can we have any assurance that sensible redevelopment of Keswick Barracks can be achieved.

 

Keeping Unley Leafy for Generations to Come. A new Tree Strategy

The current Unley Council, like it’s predecessors, is very keen on keeping Unley leafy for generations to come. Accordingly, we are looking to update our tree strategy.

Keeping Unley leafy for future generations

 

To achieve this we have developed a new “draft” tree strategy. A draft strategy, giving you an opportunity to examine it and provide input into a final draft. The consultation has commenced. We will receive feedback up until 11 May.

I encourage everyone, whether a tree lover or a tree hater to examine the draft.

We are looking to increase our tree canopy cover from the current 26% to 31% by 2045. This matches the State Governments objectives of 30% of the greater metropolitan area having tree canopy.

The strategy identifies a need to consider greening in/on:

  • the open space controlled by Council
  • in our streets
  • on land owned by State or Federal Government
  • on Private land.

 

Council recognises that we are not able to achieve this without your participation. This is because 80% of the area of the City of Unley is under private ownership.

 

In other words, keeping Unley leafy for generations to come will require not just council maximising planting on its own land, but finding ways of encouraging you to do the same. The strategy highlights the reasons for this.

14,000 standard size trees (trees with a diameter of 8 metres) will need to be planted in the next 26 years to achieve the goals. This large target equates to an average of 540 new trees planted per year. As outlined in the strategy, it is recognised that with limited public space, a large number of these trees will need to be planted on private land.

We therefore need to know how you feel about you and your neighbours contributing to this goal by retaining and planting new trees on your respective properties. Your input into how we might encourage you to do this will be appreciated.

Council & Community Helping our Businesses during Covid-19

What are the ways of helping our Businesses during Covid-19.

 

2020-21 Draft Business Plan

2020-21 Draft Business Plan

The great news is our community has recognised how businesses can be impacted by economic downturns, just as workers. As a former small business operator myself, I have been heartened by the concern our community have shown our businesses.

So how can we help them.

 

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At Community Level

I believe we all know we can help our local economy, our local businesses, is by using them in preference to going elsewhere. Please do this.

Not just when restrictions are removed but now. If they are open and can provide you goods or a service then check them out.

This applies, not just to our street traders, but our many home based businesses. We have many home based businesses. This includes lawyers, accountants, doctors, dentists, physiotherapists, podiatrists, chiropractors etc. It also includes builders and a myriad of tradies, including plumbers, sparkies, chippies, brickies, tilers, concretors, plasterboard fixers & flushers to name but a few.

They are all out there waiting for you to contact them.

At Council level

What can council do in helping our Businesses during Covid-19. We should take every opportunity to lead by example and seek out their goods and services as much as is possible.

We can also provide assistance in other ways.

As part of our budget process they too will get the advantage of the zero increase based budget noted in this morning’s blog post. With inflation at 2.4% this is a solid discount.

Beyond this, relevant street trader businesses will get an opportunity to have direct input into the levies they contribute to the promotion of their streets. I speak particularly of the 4 main streets. Goodwood Road. King William Road. Unley Road. Glen Osmond Road.

At my instigation, Council is asking the four street trader associations to ensure they have consulted with and received the backing of their members for the budgets they have submitted to us for next year. This is on the back (again at my instigation) of us requesting them to ensure the budgets proposed recognise the impacts on their members of Covid-19.

I expect therefore to be fully aware of the thoughts and suggestions of all the Association trader members. To not rely therefore on just the thoughts of the committees.

Any Other Initiatives.

Is it feasible for Councils to do such things as waive rates for businesses forced to close. This is being suggested in some quarters.

We would want to be very careful about waiving rates such that we restrict our financial capacity to contribute to a post Covid stimulus. We likewise would not want to pass this onto other rate payers.

It may be worth Council looking into utilising our current year surplus, whatever that is rather than use it to pay down debt. Food for thought.

City of Unley 2020-21 Annual Business Plan & Budget can be viewed here.

2020-21 Draft Business Plan

2020-21 Draft Business Plan

Interested in offering your opinion after reading my last blog post. Then the 2020-21 annual business plan and the budget can be viewed on the Council website. I encourage you to check it out and provide your opinion.

The web page includes links to our revised Community Plan 2033, to the Annual Business Plan & Budget, to our Long Term Financial Plan. There is a link also to a small explanatory video.

Rather just know the highlights, then read on.

From a Business Plan point of view Clarence Park Ward features well with the following initiatives included.

  • Road repairs & maintenance to East, Kelvin, Oakfield, Rosslyn & Birkdale Avenues, and Hammond Street.
  • Design of Millswood Croquet Clubrooms
  • Integrated Design for Mills Street (resulting from LATM 3) along with Stormwater drainage upgrade
  • Pedestrian Refuge adjacent Rise & Grind on East Avenue (also part of LATM 3).
  • Stormwater drainage upgrade for Francis Street, William Street and Birkdale Avenue
  • Clarence Park Community Centre to get an access control system upgrade and resurfacing of the hall floor.
  • Tennis SA to get wall crack repairs
  • Fairmont Tennis Centre to get fence repairs
  • Millswood Bowling Club to have their airconditioning replaced.
  • Page Park to get an irrigation upgrade
  • Princess Margaret Playground to get a soft fall paving upgrade

Other highlights include the following:

  • Acceleration of our tree planting program. An extra 440 trees planted to help improve our tree canopy cover.
  • The ever popular greening of verges continues. I would have loved to have seen the amount allocated increased, given we have a waiting list well capable of allowing this.
  • Protecting our significant trees by conducting a survey of our significant trees.
  • Continuation of the Brownhill Creek masterplan
  • Unley Gourmet Gala and Santos Tour Down Under remains in the budget. This may not occur if Covid-19 event restrictions remain. Could be a good way of celebrating the removal of same.
  • We have included planning for sesquicentennial celebrations likewise. Whether by way of events, or by other means we need to mark this milestone in our history. Any such celebration of course can be part of next years budget.

Your opinions matter. We need to hear from you about our draft budget.

Council has prepared a draft budget for next financial year, for the purposes of seeking input from you.  Your opinions matter. We need to hear from you.

 

2020-21 Draft Business Plan

2020-21 Draft Business Plan

The annual business plan and the budget can be viewed on the Council website from tomorrow. Your opinions matter so likewise information about how you can contribute to the final budget. Look out also for my next blog post highlighting some of the initiatives in the Annual Business Plan.

This has been as challenging a budget as we have dealt with in my time as a member of Council. The Covid-19 Pandemic and the restrictions placed on the community by the two other levels of Government are impacting us all. Impacting in conflicting ways.

We find that many of us have reduced incomes and therefore a reduced capacity to pay your rates. This includes workers and the business owners for whom they work. Those same people will need help in providing the opportunity for their jobs and their businesses to return to work.

The challenge for Council has been to balance directly competing needs. The first is to keep rates as low as possible for those of us who may be struggling financially. The second, but contradictory challenge, is to ensure this budget can assist with stimulating the local economy once restrictions are lifted.

The highlight therefore of this budget is it features a zero rate rise. But it does not hold back on providing the services we provide and the programs we have planned.

 

A zero rate rise, obviously designed to minimise the impact on your hip pocket. From your viewpoint, this is effectively a reduction in rates. This is because inflation is running at around 2% and we have not allowed for inflation in this budget.

This will be achieved by lowering the surplus from around 5% to 3%. The surplus is what we use to pay down debt. Our complimentary 10 year financial plan suggests we can reverse this over time.

For a deeper understanding of the Business Plan and the Budget watch out for my next blog post. Please take the opportunity to check it out and let us know what you think. Your opinions matter.

Changes in Development Rules the Flavour of the Month

Yes! It certainly seems that changes in Development Rules is the Flavour of the Month. It is not enough that we have to contend with the Planning & Design Code. Or the Development Plan Amendment in Everard Park.

 

In recent weeks we have had to deal with a flurry of suggestions for how the old Anzac Highway Le Cornu site could be redeveloped. That was triggered of course by the departure from Australia of the current land owner, Kaufland.

The Mayor & Keswick Barracks

Picture from Advertiser Article quoted herein

Then, a short while ago, Theo Maras was quoted in the press with ideas for the site adjacent, the Keswick Barracks site. Today I see our Mayor dragged into considering what could be on that site.

That storey, by the Advertiser, can be found here.

The Keswick Barracks is owned by the Commonwealth Government, via the Department for Defence. They have no desire to sell off the land. My information is that they are so focused on keeping their land holding that they are upgrading it.

 

So why are we having this discussion when there is plenty to keep us occupied right now?

 

First up, with all Council is focused on right now, let me tell you that Council is not participating in the discussion. We are aware of the Maras proposal. It runs similar to observations made some 6 or so years ago when the previous State Government were promoting the TOD approach to the need for development pal changes.

There was some personal chatter between members of the Council of that day, as you might expect because it is topical. There was no formal discussion however as the Commonwealth, as now, indicated no desire to sell.

When the time comes to have a discussion, it will be driven by the State Government and not Council. Whether Council gets a chance to contribute or not at that time is problematic in any case. We are all waiting on the Government’s public consultation to the Planning & Design Code. Part of this will be to see if Councils will have an opportunity into looking at changes to the Code when proposed.

We have enough to deal with right now with the changes in Development Rules we are already dealing with. I hope therefore that we can be allowed to focus on what we can influence and/or control.

Informed Decision or a Popular Decision on the Norman Terrace Vote.

Making an informed decision or a popular decision is one of the challenges facing those in leadership. This is what I and Council was confronted with last night.

Our City Strategy & Development Policy Committee was faced with making a recommendation to Council. The topic, a development plan amendment of an aged care precinct. The precinct is bounded by Norman Terrace, Fourth Avenue and Ross Street Everard Park.

To help inform us in our decision making we sought the input of our ratepayers. Many believe that this is a vote and the majority public view should be the view expressed by Council when they vote.

Councillors are elected to represent the ratepayers. That is true. It is one of their two basic roles. The other is to make decisions for the good of the community as members (if you like) of a board of directors.

We are duty bound then to seek the views of those we represent. We must however make informed decisions. To do this we must make every endeavour to be informed (beyond the views of ratepayers) before making a decision.

 

Informed decisions will often therefore be unpopular decisions. Such was the case with the residents of Everard Park.

 

An Informed Decision or a Popular Decision

Line of sight from the footpath and from the front door opposite

This was the dilemma facing our rate payers and (last night) council. Being able to envisage what a 4 storey development would look like in the streets behind 2 storey houses. Many a councillor I believe was reluctant to make the decision we know we should make. We did not want to alienate the community.

The question. Do we make an informed Decision or a Popular Decision.

This is when it was important for me to step up to the plate.

In my work life it was necessary for me to be able to visualise built form before construction. This is a skill very few people have. I know this, as many of my clients back then often said to me at practical completion of their project “so this is what it was going to look like”.

I moved what was a motion for an informed decision. The reasons behind can be found here, along with diagrams I produced to make sure my line of sight assessment was accurate. While members followed this lead with a 10 to 2 vote, we all felt for the ratepayers who honestly believe other than what I debated.

Planning & Design Code is now up to the Government

The South Australian Community has spoken. Our local (Black Forest & Clarence Park) community has spoken. And boy did we locals speak. The Planning & Design Code is now up to the Government.

 

Planning & Design CodeI am proud of my local community, my neighbours. We have taken the trouble to understand how the draft Planning & Design Code would impact on us if adopted. In other words, we took the trouble to be informed.

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As a result, we took the trouble to contribute to the conversation. To respond to the Government’s public consultation process, which has now come to an end.

I am proud to have taken the lead in this, along with Jennie. To ensure you were informed. Just part of my election commitment to provide local leadership and work for you.

I am proud also of how we found a small army of volunteers to spread the word. We could not have achieved the response rate we did without them. I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

Council too, has down its bit. They have provided an in depth analysis with recommendations for improvement.

We’ve done our bit. Now it is up to the Government, through DPTI and the SA Planning Commission. Fortunately, they have made a start by extending the implementation date.

They had no choice. There is a significant amount of work to unpack the observations made by all of us. They have committed to publicly advising what they have heard. Once they have done this they must make amendments to the draft that they recognise is necessary.

The challenge for them will be satisfying us that we have a workable Code. A Code we all can work with. One that does not destroy neighbourhoods, but one that permits appropriate development with a simple easy to use system for gaining development approvals.

This, at the end of the day, was the original goal.

Weekly Green Bin Trial

A Weekly Green Bin Trial has been approved by Council.

 

Take the Pledge

Green Bin Kerbside Collection

Weekly Green Bin

The weekly green bin trial will be targeted to the collection service for Goodwood 500 residents and up to 40 businesses for a period of six months. This initiative progresses one of my election promises and is unanimously  supported by Council.

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Goodwood was picked due to their excellent uptake of the

Take the Pledge Bin Sticker

Take the Pledge

“Take the Pledge” Council program I have previously blogged about.

It will be subject to a successful State Government grant application.

Food waste and organic matter is the largest resource by weight currently going to landfill. Landfill being the most expensive form of waste disposal. Waste that could be recycled into compost if placed in the green organics bin.

While our prime focus is to achieve environmental outcomes avoiding the massive taxes imposed on landfill is a bonus.

The State Government promoting this scheme is a God Send. Previously when the Local Government industry have talked about diverting waste from the blue to the green bin we are shot down with claims Councils are just trying to make a profit. With the debate focused not on weekly green but fortnightly blue bins the other arguments have been but bin (blue) will be infested with ants and smell if collected two weekly.

This trial will test if this different service model results in less food waste going to landfill.

Providing this small section of our community with a choice each week will see whether they will voluntarily shift their deposits from the blue to the green bin.

If it does it may demonstrate that the public is ready to accept weekly green bins. The Government would surly have to take notice of this and change therefore their policy of compulsory blue bin pick-ups.

If successful we may be able to demonstrate that fortnightly blue bin collections may be appropriate because there will be little waste in them.

Page Park Turf Turmoil investigated ahead of two major scheduled reviews

Users of the Park would be well aware of the Page Park Turf Turmoil. In recent years the turf in the much loved and much used park has deteriorated.

This has been evident in the dormant growth season of the Kikuyu grass.

 

Poor Page Park DivetIt has, over that time, deteriorated to a point that I believe requires attention. As reported back then, it prompted me to move a motion on notice in Council back in August of last year. The motion; to investigate the cause of the turf disintegration at Page Park and identify possible solutions to rectify the disintegration.

Council resolved unanimously, in favour of my motion.

I was mindful when moving that motion that Council has two pivotal reviews scheduled for 2020. In other words, the information resulting from the investigation would inform those reviews.

The first of these is a review of our Parks & Gardens Strategy. The second a review of our Dog & Cat Management Strategy. With Page Park being widely used these days for dog exercising, it is timely to investigate causes of and identify remedies for the condition of the turf.

IPOS Consulting Pty Ltd presented a report to Council at our last meeting. The report addressed the Page Park Turf Turmoil. A full copy can be found here under item 4.4 of the Council Agenda.

 

In essence, the report identified two major contributors to the deterioration that has occurred. The first contributor is the recent increase in use of the park during the dormant growth season of the Kikuyu grass. The second is ageing and under-performing water reticulation infrastructure.

 

The consultants identified a need for an upgrade of the reticulation system. For the use the park is experiencing they also recommended an increased maintenance regime. While their recommendation will give the grass every opportunity to improve they confirmed it may not be the answer.

In other words, if the quality of the turf remains an issue following an upgrade of the irrigation, use of the park may need to be considered. Accordingly, it may then be necessary to limit the times and days in which dogs are permitted to be off-leash within the park.

Finally we agreed that, until the two previously mentioned reviews are completed, we should refrain from taking immediate action. Rather than commit to increased expenditure, we will simply maintain the current maintenance.

Now we await the scheduled reviews into our parks & gardens and the dog & cat management.

 

 

City of Unley is Leading the way and speaking up.

My last blog showed how the Black Forest/Clarence Park community responded to the Government’s Planning & Design Code (PDC). In numerous other posts, while I have trusted the Government’s intention I have questioned their ability to get the Planning reforms right.

In this blog I wish to highlight what Council is doing. I can say the City of Unley is leading the way and speaking up in analysing the Code.

 

Planning & Design CodeWe (Council) have devoted significant resources to analysing the PDC. We found this was necessary due to the size and detail of the draft Code. Likewise because it is full of errors & omissions. Errors & omissions that do not uphold the Minister’s promise of transitioning like for like. Errors & omissions (on reflection) that must be inevitable in transitioning 72 Council Development Plans into the Code .

Our administration have provided an in-depth analysis into the entire document. Our City, Strategy Committee unanimously approved my motion supporting that work as our submission to the Government. Council last night endorsed the committee’s recommendations.

 

This submission goes well beyond the issues I have recently raised in this forum. It certainly mirrors my observations of the problems in the draft code but goes further.

 

It replicates also my observations as to how to address these problems. That is to transition the current RB350 zone into (not the General Neighbourhood Zone but) the Suburban Neighbourhood Zone. Likewise, to transition the current numerical values contained in the RB350 Zone into the Technical Numeric Variation Overlay of the Suburban Neighbourhood Zone.

It mirrors (as one would expect) my belief that Council’s should not only be re included as a contributor to future Code changes, but they should take a lead role. It also highlights the sense in delaying the introduction until it is ready for implementation.

There is so much more, the detail of which is too great to simply highlight in a blog post. Should you want more information on Council’s submission you can find it here.

Black Forest & Clarence Park speak up.

Watch as the rate payers of Black Forest & Clarence Park speak up against a false promise by the Minister for Planning.

 

The Minister (Stephan Knoll) and the Chair of the State Planning Commission (Michael Lennon) have publicly suggested by inference that their current Council Development zone RB350 will be transitioned with little or no change in to the new Planning & Design Code. The ratepayers are only too aware however of the significant differences that are and that this is NOT FACT. Differences highlighted in my blog post of 16 December.

PDC Public Meeting

Residents attending Black Forest/Clarence Park PDC Public Meeting

Around 100 people attended a meeting held by my Co-Councillor & I. Many more have also attended house meetings I spoke at.  I have, as I am sure Jennie has, spoken one on one with many others. Even more have learned by word of mouth.

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PDC in Black Forest

Residents attending Black Forest/Clarence Park PDC Public Meeting

The community is engaged. They have responded to my blog post of 8 January among other things. As a result, they are likely to inundate the Department, with expressions of feedback. Likewise the Minister.

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Thanks to my in-depth analysis noted in my 16 December blog, they are aware of the changes. An analysis that 95% of people simply would not be able to do for themselves.

The community is frustrated. Many, believing they are being targeted, are incensed at the Government.

Some believe these changes are deliberate. Others, like me, believe it is just dumb stupidity. Either way,  the result is the same. It is indeed enough for the rate payers of Black Forest & Clarence Park speak up and be heard. It is likewise enough to unseat this Government if what we are experiencing is occurring on mass elsewhere.

Their submissions will add depth of voice to Council’s own submission to the Department, and our lobbying behind the scenes. The Government will surely see that the Community is backing up their Council.

Look to another blog post soon covering Council’s response.

Watch Out for Improvement in carparking in King William Road.

Improvement in carparking was one of the major considerations in the design of the new King William Road. I expect you will be delighted with Council’s solutions to what has been a perennial problem in King William Road.

 

For as long as I have been on Council we have been seeking collaboration for the property owners, the landlords, to improve carparking in the precinct. This has been met with limited success. With the redevelopment, I am hopeful we may meet with some more success.

As I have reported previously there are over 400 off street carparks available in the precinct. These are behind the various shops.

I detailed in my blog post on 5 July what we are doing. I encourage you to check it out, if you have not already.

 

We have approached this challenge with an understanding that there are two types of shopper that use the road. They are mission oriented shoppers and leisure oriented shoppers.

City of Casey Smart Sign

City of Casey Smart Sign

One is intent on parking, buying their goods, and departing in the least amount of time possible. The other is looking for an experience. They will be looking to stay a while and shop at multiple outlets.

Truthfully the street has always catered well for the mission oriented shopper. A loss of a few on street carparks I doubt will dissuade or limit these shoppers.

Opening up the rear carparks (the off street carparks) is catering for the leisure oriented shopper. The shopper, I suggest that will bring more business to the street. Needless to say, the shopper on which the ultimate success of the street will rely.

 

Before the project is complete, why not venture down to the street and check it out for yourself.

 

The smart technology will not be available until the completion of the project. But the carparks will. Because the construction is focusing now on the footpath areas there will remain no on street parking, at least until the construction goes into Christmas hibernation at the end of this month as has been widely reported. This means you have to seek out the alternatives in order to shop there, whether mission oriented or leisure oriented.

This will gear you to take advantage of the improvement in carparking that will soon be a reality.

 

 

New Planning & Design Code is Introducing Environmental Initiatives

The draft Planning & Design Code is introducing some environmental initiatives or controls but there is no detail yet. At least I am struggling to find them.

 

Pilots licences aside, the author of the Code and now the Minister are on record as sprouting that the Planning & Design Code is introducing some environmental initiatives. Initiatives hitherto not incorporated in Planning legislation.

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Initiatives such as:

  • Identifying tree canopy cover as a planning requirement
  • Providing for Deep Soil Zones
  • Likewise permeable surfaces
  • Regulated Tree Overlay

I am confused however by what I read in the Code concerning each of these initiatives.

Identifying tree canopy cover as a planning requirement

The City of Unley has been promoting for some time now the need to incorporate some form of development controls around ensuring tree canopy cover. The Government’s 30 year plan calls for an increase in tree canopy cover.

They have set a goal for Unley to have a 30% canopy cover by 2030. This cannot be achieved unless the are mechanisms to increase the overage on private property. The Code has an aim to do this.

The only references I find regarding trees on private property so far talks of planting trees at the front of development of 4 or more storeys. The only other reference I can find is for tree planting provided on public streets and public open space. Hardly an initiative of significance I would have thought.

Providing Deep Soil Zones

Again the only reference to deep soil zones is on multi storey development.

If I simply have not found the detail on both of these initiatives I trust the Minister will direct me to it. If it has been omitted then I trust it will now be included.

Permeable Surfaces

A number of references have been made in respect of carparking areas and/or driveways containing at least 50% permeable surfaces. This is encouraging but I would like to see a more general requirement for permeable surfaces on all properties. Too many properties are totally paved out or have fake lawn.

Regulated Tree Overlay

Sounds a lot like we now have areas where we wish to protect trees. Areas rather than focus on quantifying what constitutes a regulated tree. I believe I need assistance understanding what the legislators are trying to achieve here.

It seeks to preserve regulated trees listed as rare or endangered under the National parks & Wildlife Act 1972. Trouble is I don’t see any tree species listed in that Act.

This Overlay talks of trees within 20 metres of a building. It seems that the distance from a building within which trees do not need development approval for removal has been extended.

If I am reading this right, I trust it is in error. Otherwise the legislation is watering down restrictions.

 

 

 

Council’s tree Strategy Should Recognise Nuisance Trees

Having a strategy to deal with nuisance trees was one of my many election promises. Placing a weighting on the nuisance a tree represents must surely apply to any responsible tree strategy.

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It is timely, as we lament the loss of significant trees as blogged last week in Black Forest, to remember that some trees are nuisance trees.

Nuisance Tree

Nuisance Tree

While this loss of the Black Forest trees is hurting, we must recognise that trees do need to be removed if and when:

  1. The tree is dead
  2. The tree is unhealthy.
  3. It is structurally unsound and inclined to drop limbs
  4. Likewise it presents a danger to person or property.

These issues are dealt with by the Development Act for trees deemed to be regulated or significant trees.  It requires even Council owned trees go through this process.

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Council, as a responsible tree owner, has indeed a similar process for their trees that aren’t regulated, significant. Only trees authorised however by our arborist as either unhealthy or presenting a physical danger can be removed. Trees that may be a nuisance but don’t present as a physical danger are subsequently ignored.

 

As a responsible tree owner and neighbour Council should have a policy to deal with trees that are causing (for want of a better word) a nuisance to one of our neighbours.

 

A policy covering nuisances that don’t necessarily fit that criteria but sufficient to cause understandable stress for the neighbour. Given this, such a tree that was put before the elected body in the Chamber last night for direction.

Council approved a motion moved by Cr Boisvert and seconded by myself for removal of the tree. You can access details of the level of nuisance in this case in the agenda., commencing at page 155 of the agenda.

This need to take a motion to the chamber for a tree creating a health issue for one of our neighbours is clumsy and costly. This experience will surely inform the new tree strategy we have commenced working on.

Is the new Planning & Design Code simpler?

Is the new Planning & Design Code a simpler, easier to use code or a document of complexity that will require a pilot’s licence to navigate.

 

Renewing Our Heritage PlanningThe core of the Planning & Design Code is the data base that will sit behind it. This data base will allow anyone, not just those with a pilot’s licence, to pull up their own property on a map and find out what develop is or is not allowed on that site.

To that end it is clearly going to be easier to understand the planning system in South Australia. Behind this however is a regime of legislation far more complex than the totality of the 68 Council development plans now in operation. A far cry and the complete opposite of what we expected when former Minister Rau announced the changes and a reduction to only 5 zones. A code by the way that would not recognise character zones.

Minister Knoll advised the community attending last week’s forum that the current zones have all been transferred to the Code. This one might expect means without change. He also reinforced that current demolition controls would be maintained.

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This code has some 50 zones. I have not counted how many layers over these. This makes the process of evaluating the code an onerous one. A process that is testing those of us with knowledge in matters planning.

 

As I said in my last blog post I have found the draft Code to be full of errors and omissions. The transfer of zones has not been seamless. The errors and omissions are extensive. So extensive it does lead to the speculation that the Government cannot be trusted. It seems that we need to identify them (each and one by one), failing which the intent may not be achieved and there will change by stealth.

I am working through the Code to do just that and undertake to continue so doing and keeping you informed. Your Council, through its Principal Planner David Brown, is doing the same thing.

The City of Unley will be seeking further interaction with the Minister and the SA Planning Commission. We will be putting in what clearly will be a detailed submission. We have to given the observations I am making.

 

Draft Planning & Design Code Errors & Ommissions that need Correcting

The draft Planning & Design Code errors and omissions are many. As it is a complex document it is proving hard to identify them.

 

Renewing Our Heritage PlanningTo start the conversation that Minister Knoll has invited, let’s look at some of the more essential. At least from a City of Unley community point of view.

The Minister indicated to us that all the zones in the Current Unley Development plan have been transferred to the draft. He also advises there will be no reduction in demolition controls.

On my first couple of reads of the draft, not so.

A look at the very basic of zones sees a reduction in area applicable for each house. If our zones were to have been transferred without change, the RB 350 zone (in which I live) would not now read 300 m2 as being the size of allotment per house as a minimum.

Unley has a zone called Streetscape Built Form. It is a zone afforded demolition controls, but not as stringent as those applying to Historic Conservation Zones.

Under the Code, these zones are shown to be part of what is now to be called a Character Area Overlay. This overlay has no demolition controls.

This needs to be addressed. Either demolition controls need to be introduced into the Character Area overlay, or those current zones in Unley would have to be redefined as a Historic Conservation.

Our new Corridor Zones have a 30 degree interface with neighbouring residential zones. The Code is specifying this only for south bound residential zones. A 45 degree interface therefore is relevant to all other geographical sides.

Are these errors and omissions that will be corrected once they are pointed out? Or are they deliberate changes, as suggested by those in our community who are cynical about Government promises.

Whatever, they could have a profound impact on our community if left unaltered.

Call me Naive with the new Planning & Design Code

Call me Naive but I do believe we need to get on board and work with the Government on the new Planning & Design Code.

Naïve maybe. Focused on outcomes definitely.

Minister Knoll continues to give assurances, that they will listen to us during the current 5 month long consultation period. Assurances that we have also been hearing from the SA Planning Commission chair, Michael Lennon.

Call me naïve, call me mad, but I believe him.

Trouble is my neighbours, my rate payers don’t believe him. They don’t trust him. They don’t trust the SA Planning Commission.

Since the initial draft of the Code was released I have taken my usual pragmatic approach and delved into the detail, or lack of it. Others, given their lack of trust and maybe expertise in reading development plans, have focused on complaining about a lack of consultation. Complaining that they are not going to be heard anyway.

Minister Knoll indicated at a recent heritage focused public meeting, held by local State MP and fellow Minister David Pisoni, that Ministers and Governments should be judged on what they do. He then tried to assure the heritage conservation focused audience that the cabinet is made up of inner city seats, whose constituents are heritage focused. Cabinet members, in other words, attuned to the needs of their constituents.

The cabinet will make the final decisions he told us. This is not what we have previously understood. We believed that the Commission is responsible for making the final determination of what is included or not. This belief has led to many in the community believing  this legislation is undemocratic legislation.

Trouble is, as I pointed out at the meeting, the complexity of the draft code makes learned consultation very difficult. It is laden with errors and omissions.

Such does not give rise to trust and I made sure the Minister heard this observation. It actually breeds cynicism.

I pointed to examples of the errors and omissions to applause from the audience. In so doing I urged the Government to consider extending the implementation date. I did this to ensure consultation and the opportunity to respond to that consultation is as accurate as it can be.

I am not sure he heard me.

That said I firmly believe, and call me naïve if you want, that we must focus on what is in the Code and what is NOT in the code. Watch therefore this space.

Have you experienced Walking Footy? I have! And I loved it.

You might well ask what Walking Footy is. It is an opportunity for those who would love to participate in the game we love, even though we may have reached or passed the age of 50.

 

Launched this week, the program was organised in partnership between the City of Unley, the SANFL and ECH. Council played host this week at Unley Oval to the official launch of Walking Footy.

We hosted this as part of our Zest Fest 2019. Zest Fest is a project by the Council of the Ageing aimed at celebrating longevity, challenging stereotypes and unlocking the possibilities that modern ageing brings.

Because of Unley’s involvement, I received a Walking Footy invitation to participate. I am glad I did. Experiencing it first hand I can say without fear or favour that this is a great concept.

Don Palmer. BOG at launch of Walking Footy

At my ripe old age, I found my competitive juices are still running high. Loved it. Loved the competition, the interaction, the involvement in team success. Yes, my team won. I would like to think I won the medal for best on ground.

And yes that is my balding head in the picture.

Although I have a few aches and pains, I can’t wait to experience it all over again. Given my history however, I might offer to pull my Acme Thunderer out of the top drawer. Yep. I still have it.

 

Walking Footy is a great Concept. A chance for us seniors (both genders) to be active, to regain or improve fitness, and to mix with others with a similar passion.

 

Two teams of mixed gender numbering six participate. Two backs, two mid-fields and two forwards. It is played on a very much shorter field, thankfully. The two major rules are:

  • No Running
  • No tackling

They are hard to abide by too. Trust me. I got called up for running.

If you want to know more about it check out the SANFL website. They are organising an inaugural season to commence probably in March 2020.

Are the Trees in Black Forest Going Missing. And Clarence Park.

The saga of trees in Black Forest going missing continued yesterday with a tree in Byron Road being felled.

 

I found myself cutting my shopping short early yesterday. A distraught rate payer rang me concerned that a lemon scented gum on the property next door was being felled.

The third tree in the adjacent area within twelve months. The second on a neighbouring property to this resident. Changing forever the amenity of this neighbourhood.

The pair of trees in the centre of this picture are both gone missing.

The two neighbouring trees, between them, were a significant contributor to the amenity of the neighbourhood. With both gone there is nothing.

I am not saying nothing left. I am saying nothing. The loss is immeasurable.

I share grief of this rate payer (and others who have contacted me). A fourth tree on my side of the Seaford Line (in Clarence Park) was felled recently. A tree behind my rear boundary. Our amenity has been forever compromised as a result.

 

The Question has been asked, was Council responsible for this occurring?

The tree was on private property. It is one of many trees in the last decade on private land within the Unley Council that have been removed.

Council therefore was not involved. If it were a street or park tree, then obviously it would be Council.

 

A subsequent question raised is what Did Council Do About it?

Prior to ringing me the rate payer had rung the Council, who advised they would contact the contractor. Such was the level of her stress however, I simply had to make sure Council was responding appropriately. If this tree was a regulated tree and approval not sought, then we would need to put a stop to the tree damaging activity

I contacted our Regulatory Management, completed my shopping, deserted my wife and headed down to Byron Road. The removal of the tree was already well advanced when I arrived a short while later.

So! Was the tree protected or not? Was the felling of this tree legal or illegal?

On completing their inspection our inspection team reported to myself and the neighbour. Their conclusion was the tree was not protected under the State Government’s Development Regulations.

The species being cut down has no protection under the regulations if it is within 10 metres of a building. This tree would you believe was 9.7 metres from a building on a neighbouring property.

Does this mean the saga of trees in Black Forest going missing will continue?

Yes it will. The felling of trees such as the four mentioned in this blog post will continue to be felled, unless there is change in the State Legislation.

What can we do about it?

As I noted earlier in this blog the controls are State Government controls, via their Development Regulations. If you want change, you need to speak with your local member of Parliament.

The legislation rightfully must consider the danger the tree may present to person or property. It is however meant to protect trees from indiscriminate felling. Notwithstanding this, it often appears that too much emphasis is put on removing the tree just for the sake of moving it, or because it is simply inconvenient to the home owner.

Out here in the west of the City of Unley that is Jayne Stinson. The member for Badcoe. Elsewhere in the City of Unley the local member (and a member of the Cabinet) is David Pisoni.

I am happy to assist in this process.

You might also benefit from joining a lobby group, the Friends of the City of Unley Society. Their focus is the preservation of our history. That includes saving our trees. Check out their website.

Tree Canopy CoverFortuitously, they will be discussing increasing the green cover of Unley at their next meeting.

The other side of the storey.

But wait. There is more. There is another side of the storey. One that will play out in Council next week. I will blog on this after the Council meeting.