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Adelaide: urban sprawl « Previous | |Next »
September 13, 2010

Currently, the politics of urban sprawl in Adelaide centres around Mt Barker. It used to be a little place of 2000 people in the Adelaide hills surrounded by farming. The dairying industry has dried up. The housing industry has taken over.

The Rann Government's 30-Year Plan for Greater Adelaide is fundamentally about strategic planning that delivers the best result for existing residents and future homeowners The impetus of the 30-Year Plan for Greater Adelaide is to fast-track business as usual urban sprawl on the fringes alongside slow progress on transit-orientated development in the inner-city.

So the probable consequence is the risk of creating disenfranchised communities with little or no access to services and public transport. New outer suburbs----eg., Buckland Park in Adelaide--- are by their nature car dependent and then you’ve got a long commute to the CBD on congested roads.

The proposed Mt Barker development will result in emptying its 70,000 commuters into Adelaide’s urban road network, which is becoming increasingly congested. This is due to a lack of urban infrastructure investment by state government's that were, and are, obsessed with budget surpluses and triple A credit ratings from the money market credit agencies.

The problem in Mt Barker is there was no call or support from the Mt Barker Council for such rapid growth, no pleas from local businesses or from existing residents. it appears that this development, in which 1,300 hectares of farmland is rezoned from rural to residential, is being driven by the developers with the usual lack of infrastructure planning.

For instance there is no provision for an alternative to roads that are becoming increasingly congested. No public transport. The access to transport for those people without access to a car is the bus not rail. What we have are the new motorways and better public transport’ rhetoric with the reality that this kind of development continues the legacy of extensive suburban development built on the premise of cheap and easy car use. The developers or the sprawl industry blame government planning policy and constraints for the problems of urban sprawl.

The Mt Barker Council, which is actually opposed to the Government’s mega-plan, and which is normally responsible for land zoning in that area, has its own plan for medium density housing on a smaller area of land. The desire is for orderly development that can actually deliver good services and good liveability in a community. What is not wanted is communities without services and infrastructure.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:14 PM | | Comments (11)


Buckland Park in Adelaide is going to have a bus shuttle to kind-of nearby Virginia, which then only has infrequent bus service to Adelaide.

Presumably, there is no provision for a massive investment in public transport for MT Barker by the state government?

Former state planning minister Jay Weatherill acknowledged the incongruity of sprawl in a speech to the Sustainable Property Council over a year ago:

We drive low-income people out to the city’s extremities where services are the most stretched ... The paradox is that governments unwittingly subsidise this sprawl … A Perth study has found that the direct cost to government of providing infrastructure for a fringe block is more than three times the cost of an inner block … So we have a situation in which government is providing high subsidies for low-income people to live in fringe areas where services are low and where building communities is hardest.

What Weatherill was saying is that affordable house and land packages are not affordable at all – neither for the community nor homebuyers. He is talking about the unsustainability of a residential development practice that is a proven failure fiscally, socially and environmentally.

There looks to be a good 50 min service into Adelaide from Mt Barker. A bus every 30 mins in peak times and 1 hr for the rest which is normal for those type of lines. As the population requires these can be easily increased. The newer long buses can carry 120 people nowadays. They would be the go for that service.

The problem with conventional buses that use the road is that they are slowed by the traffic congestion at the peak travel times --both morning and evening-- when they are off the freeway.

The good thing about computerised ticketing systems is that planners have instant access to all passenger travelling numbers on any route. The only way to get increased services is to show that the service is not coping well at the current level. For instance if the number 27 at 6:30 and 7:00 am has consistant numbers of large numbers of people standing or full then a 6:45 service needs to be introduced. Other things like, what is on the journey between Mt Barker and Adelaide. Are people taking the part or full journey and does an extra service need to stop at all stops or express.
There are many good ideas out there to combat your point and one that I have seen lately is being built in one of the asian countries. It is a train that runs over the highway above the cars. It has one track on one side of the road and one on the other with the passengers above the cars. Interesting.

One way to counter the urban sprawl is to roll in the NBN from the bush to the city as Michael de Percy argues in his blog.

it's probably going to be years until fibre-optic cabling passes my house in Victor Harbor. Then it has limitations --I may be able to get tens of megabits per second domestically, but once I'm looking for content offshore, I am very, very limited by the speed of the overseas links connecting Australia to the rest of the world.

re your comment: "It is a train that runs over the highway above the cars. It has one track on one side of the road and one on the other with the passengers above the cars."

You are dreaming if you think that the state government in SA would consider that idea. The Liberals are still opposed to investing in public transport and the ALP only considers small extensions to the suburban rail network.

It is very hard to get new train lines up in general. Its easier to put on extra buses and widen or fix roads.

Yes, I agree that you will be waiting a long time for you NBN. I wonder whether just as some places are getting theres the first areas will be reaching their useby date.

there is a good informative blog that has interesting things to say in its posts on cities and public transport. It's called the The Melbourne Urbanist, and it is run by Alan Davies, a principal of Melbourne-based economic and planning consultancy, Pollard Davies Pty Ltd.

Check it out. They know what they are talking about.

Yes, he seems to be right on the money.
In regards to wondering what access to public transport people without cars would need you would need to break down the areas that people are travelling to. For instance people commuting to the CBD of a large city would show a high number with cars because parking prices and spaces would factor in their choices. So public transport becomes fanacially viable for them and as these services are well used they are profitable to the public transport system. On the opposite side are inland routes and out of peak time services where the passengers are much more likely to have no access to cars and run at a loss for the system.
Some cities are smarter than others and offer free transport to concession groups between 9am and 3:30pm as a way of maximising peak times for workers which is the way to go in my mind.

Yes the Green issue is explained well.