Road to nowhere

Mt Barker Council’s move to get legal advice about whether to freeze development until the infrastructure is built could lead to a number of complications for both developers and prospective home owners.

Despite years of housing development at Mt Barker, the highly anticipated Heysen Boulevard – which links many of these new developments – is still a road to nowhere.
The boulevard has been constructed in piecemeal fashion, with multiple developers building different sections as new estates are developed.
With just over half of the road built, the Mt Barker Council is urging the State Government to provide a loan of $65m to fast-track its completion.
But the Government is yet to agree to this, despite the fact that it would be repaid.
The Labor Opposition is also yet to make a pledge to fund the boulevard if elected, despite the fact that it was a former Labor government that was responsible for rezoning land around Mt Barker about a decade ago.
The plan that was put in place for the construction of the Heysen Boulevard – which places the responsibility on developers – may have seemed reasonable when it was designed.
However, it has become very clear that it’s not working.
The money needed to fast-track the completion of the boulevard is a huge sum for a council to raise on its own – especially for a council like the Mt Barker Council with rates that are already far higher than those in many other councils and which is already responsible for a number of other expensive projects to cater for the region’s growing population.
Although bold, the Mt Barker Council’s latest move – to get legal advice about whether to freeze development until the infrastructure is built – could lead to a number of complications for both developers and prospective home owners.
But as Mayor Ann Ferguson said, it simply beggars belief that neither the State Government nor the Opposition have agreed to help fix the mess.
The residents of Mt Barker need a forward-thinking Government that will take responsibility for the decision to rezone 1300ha of land in the area – not only in respect to the Heysen Boulevard but also in respect to the many other needs the growth has created.
If the major parties want to convince Hills residents that they deserve to be elected to Government on March 19, they need to prove that they are taking the significant needs of the region seriously and are committed to delivering outcomes that are in the best interest of Hills residents.