A test of the DPA

It took the Adelaide Hills Council and its planning team more than a decade to get the Townships and Urban Areas Development Plan Amendment (DPA) to its final hurdle – Ministerial endorsement.
At its heart this DPA aims to bring some consistency to the clunky planning regime inherited from four separate council areas brought together under one banner following the amalgamation almost 20 years ago.
It delivers much needed character guidelines for towns such as Gumeracha and Kersbrook and settlements such as Verdun and Lenswood, and it opens a narrow path for medium density infill development for residents looking to either downsize or enter the housing market.
The large historic properties of Wiaroa, Beechwood and Pirralilla also have appropriate zoning with policy guidelines that hopefully allay community concerns about large scale subdivisions.
However, last week’s council approval almost came unstuck over the question of downsizing in the country living zones in the Stirling district.
Councillor Kirrilee Boyd did her best to introduce a 2000sqm line in the sand for any subdivision, regards of how many planning hoops developers had to jump through beforehand.
Her stance was backed by the council’s own sustainability and biodiversity advisory groups and a petition of 247 residents from the Stirling district who really don’t want any subdivision.
For aesthetic, community, habitat and other environmental reasons these groups want to keep the openness of the large blocks and their vegetation.
The 2000sqm rule didn’t pass but Cr Jan-Claire Wisdom’s amendment to prevent any subdivision if it means the axing of even “one regulated tree” might just protect the Stirling district from losing its ancient gums and historic introduced trees.
The test will be how the DPA, if approved, is interpreted and administered by planning authorities.
The reality is more than 60% of country living blocks are less than 2000sqm.
The current rules have a 4000sqm minimum allotment size in this zone and that hasn’t stopped subdivisions over the years, even in historic policy areas.