Valuing Public Space – South Australia

The Planning and Development Fund was established to support the purchase, planning and enhancement of public spaces throughout South Australia.  The intention is to help create more livable, sustainable and healthy communities.  These are laudable aims as we experience increasing urbanisation and densification. 

Since settlement Adelaide has been known for its parklands, which provided a welcome contrast to the hard, crowded European cities of the time and remain a valued asset to this day.  The parklands provide public space for recreation, relaxation and events and are also the city’s ’green lungs’, delivering urban cooling. 

What is less well known is that the parklands were also a deliberate mechanism for adding value to the land for sale in the new colony.  To purchase farming land outside the square mile you had to own a town acre.  This supported centralized development of the nascent city and ensured return on investment.  Likewise, the Planning and Development Fund levies monies from private development to improve the public realm, which in turn supports property prices by providing residents with access to public amenities.  This is a win for lifestyle and value.

The creation of livable, sustainable and healthy communities and the importance of quality public space, including green landscape, are also clearly stated in the State Planning Policies, which form part of South Australia’s new planning system.  Therefore, the decision by the State Government to utilize the Planning and Development Fund to pay for the new E-Planning system is of considerable concern to the Australian Institute of Architects.  

The Institute’s SA Chapter President Tony Giannone said ‘Our experience this year has reinforced the need for well-designed green space and community facilities.  These places provide people with social connection and improve wellbeing, which is vital for creating healthy, vibrant cities and towns.’

Giannone went on to say that ‘the decision to redirect funds the for implementation and ongoing delivery of the planning system is contradictory.  Adelaide is recognized globally as a green city thanks to our parklands.  We should maintain the Planning and Development Fund for its intended purpose and build on this legacy to ensure that our reputation for livability continues into the future.’