On the rise

The Mt Barker Council’s plan to keep a five-storey future alive for a strip of land between the railway line and the Mt Barker Creek is a reasonable compromise between earlier plans which outraged the community.
When initial plans to allow five-storey buildings in the town along historic streets and creeks were first released last year, the community widely rejected the possibility of such large-scale projects ever taking place.
But after acknowledging a need for greater diversity and vibrancy in the town, the council has retained its plan to allow buildings up to five storeys high along a strip of land from the town’s caravan park and continuing south to the Dutton Road roundabout.
The council has listened to the community’s desire to retain the heritage feel of particular streets and to keep future developments along Cameron Road limited to two-storeys as viewed from the road.
Mt Barker is a rapidly growing district with a population set to further expand and creating a different housing mix could be the key to soothing some of the district’s growing pains.
Although these five-storey residential and commercial developments are bound to experience some teething issues, the inner-city living choice is likely to bring a vibe to the town.
Apartment living is attractive to young people and first home-buyers and, although a concrete jungle is a foreign concept to many Hills dwellers, it’s reasonable for the council to try and cater for all parties within its changing community.
A reinvigoration of Mt Barker’s original heart – Gawler Street – is another attempt at bringing people into the town and having them work, play, eat and live in one vicinity.
Extended shop opening hours, brighter night-life, more entertainment and second-storey tourist accommodation would do just that. But of course, high-rise buildings, accommodation developments and a changed streetscape won’t happen overnight and these future visions will take decades to unfold.
The Mt Barker Council is thinking ahead while listening to its community.
Allowing large-scale apartment buildings for part of Mt Barker, while maintaining the preservation of its most precious areas is a good attempt at meeting the community halfway.