First development

The first major subdivison for Mt Barker’s growth land could be approved today – almost two years after the State Government approved the doubling of the size of the town, despite the local community’s overwhelming opposition.
This initial development represents just a fraction of the expansion, with about 505 allotments that would house about 1300 people.
That is just 5% of the number of homes expected to be built in the almost 1300ha rezoned by the Government.
But the troubling thing about this development for the Mt Barker community must be that approval could granted without plans being finalised for key infrastructure.
There is no certainty about where effluent from the homes in this new subdivsion would be treated.
It could be linked to the Mt Barker Council’s existing scheme, or it may be serviced by a private operator.
The developer, Walker Corporation, is not one of the two companies to back private company Alano Water’s proposed treatment plant at Callington.
So that could result in another separate wastewater facility being built.
The development also includes part of a connector road – the key route that will collect traffic in the growth area and link it to Mt Barker’s town centre and freeway interchanges at Adelaide and Bald Hills roads.
That section of road could be agreed to before the Government has even signed off on a confirmed route for the remainder of the road.
Transport Minister Patrick Conlon last week attacked the council for its ongoing public commentary over its concerns at the lack of certainty of infrastructure provision.
Now it has come to the crunch and the council is being forced to decide on these developments, its concerns appear justified.
How does a council intent on securing the best outcome for its community make a truly informed decision on major proposals without basic details on things like where the sewage will go?
At the time of the rezoning the Government flagged a $550m investment in infrastructure, including $160m on roads and public transport facilities and $260m on water and wastewater facilities.
It said it had a “timetable” to roll out the infrastructure, which Mr Conlon said at the time was “critical” for the development of the land once it had been rezoned.
Nearly two years on, however, there are few answers still on who will provide and pay for many of these basic facilities.
Unless something is done to fix this soon it will be both incoming and existing residents who will bear the cost.