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The nitty gritty of growth

The nitty gritty of growth
Published 7 September 2022
It’s no secret that Playford is growing. For the past couple of decades, scores of new housing developments have popped up across the city and we’ve welcomed thousands of new residents into our community each year.

It’s no secret that Playford is growing. For the past couple of decades, scores of new housing developments have popped up across the city and we’ve welcomed thousands of new residents into our community each year.

This growth will have a lasting impact on the city. Our urban footprint is expanding with hundreds of new houses in suburbs like Munno Para West and Blakeview, and once semi-rural farming towns like Angle Vale and Virginia are being transformed into bustling communities.

Meanwhile, established areas of our city are also developing. Older suburbs like Elizabeth and Smithfield are being renewed with ageing infrastructure like stormwater, footpaths and playgrounds being replaced.

Growth can be an exciting thing for a city. It brings vibrancy to our community with new residents creating diverse and engaging neighbourhoods. It means a boost for local businesses, a chance to live in modern suburbs and access to new services and facilities.

But it is a double-sided coin, and on the flip side, growth brings us challenges. It can make our city difficult to get around as public infrastructure like roads and footpaths doesn’t always keep up with private development, and services like schools, childcare and sports facilities don’t always meet community demand.

Council has a key role to play to ensure the challenges of growth don’t outweigh the opportunities and we build a city to be proud of — both for current residents and future generations who will call Playford home.

Why growth and why Playford?

Our region has a history of rapid urban development, starting with Elizabeth in the 1950s — a satellite city that was carved out of the fertile paddocks between Salisbury and Smithfield.

While new suburbs like Craigmore, Hillbank and Davoren Park grew organically around Elizabeth, in the early 2010s the trajectory of growth in Playford changed when the state government rezoned large parcels of land on the edges of our suburban footprint for residential development.

Big sections of farming land in places like Angle Vale, Virginia and Munno Para West that were once vegetable crops, orchards or vineyards could now be turned into houses, with 30-years-worth of land supply hitting the housing market at the same time.

This triggered many pockets of growth to pop up across the city at once, all which require civil and social infrastructure to support new communities. From new roads to stormwater, upgrading intersections and more sports and recreation facilities, growth places a lot of demand for Council to fund different projects to match the pace of private development.

What’s more, Council needs to coordinate development across the whole of Playford, not just in new areas. Established suburbs require renewing too, which put together, creates an environment that demands a lot of Council resources.

When the growing gets tough

Pockets of growth spread across the city, developed by a range of private companies

Community experience: Some neighbourhoods have everything they need — brand new roads and footpaths and lovely streets. Other neighbourhoods are lagging behind and some even lack basic things like footpaths

Council experience: Private developers are responsible for building the roads, footpaths and streetscapes within new developments. Council is responsible for connecting civil infrastructure.
Because we have lots of pockets of growth occurring at one time, it is complex to plan for civil infrastructure on a city-wide basis and can lead to what appears to be inconsistency across neighbourhoods.

Lots of growth happening at one time

Community experience: There are lots of new houses and residents so roads are busier and it takes longer to get around. Some roads and footpaths can’t cope with the level of traffic our city is experiencing because of all the new residents.

Council experience: There is a lot of attention for resources and a limited source of funding to go around. Funding also doesn’t keep pace with the speed of private development which means there is often a lag between private development and surrounding infrastructure. Council doesn’t have full control to manage when new infrastructure, like roads, are developed. This is coordinated in partnership with State Government and developers.

From semi-rural to urban township

Community experience: Places like Angle Vale and Virginia have lots of new developments. Roads, footpaths and sportsgrounds around these developments aren’t keeping up with the rate of growth.

Council experience: To fund new things like roads and footpaths, growth deeds are in place. Some deeds are managed by the State Government and are only delivered when developments hit certain sales or population reaches a specific level, even if there is community demand for a project to commence.

Growth is happening quickly

Community experience: Council needs to keep up with growth and upgrade roads, footpaths and other infrastructure more quickly. It’s like they didn’t even plan for this.

Council experience: Council was faced with 30-years of residential land coming on to the market at one time. It makes planning complex. Funding for infrastructure and resources has not kept
pace with private development. It would be great to be able to build everything our city needs at one time, but this isn’t financially possible.

Renewing existing suburbs and accommodating growth

Community experience: Older suburbs get forgotten. All the attention is on new suburbs.

Council experience: Having large, new areas to service as well as existing suburbs to renew is a unique position for a city to be in. It is highly demanding and there is a lot of attention for Council resources.

Paying for growth

Playford was one of the first councils to experience large, fragmented private development. We knew this could mean huge upfront costs for Council to build infrastructure like stormwater and roads needed to support private developments.

To make sure ratepayers didn’t carry the lion’s share of this financial burden, Council negotiated agreements which committed landowners and the State Government to part fund infrastructure costs. These are known as deeds and are essential in ensuring that growth doesn’t mean large rate increases to cover the cost of building new or upgraded infrastructure in growing areas.

Deeds are delivered when land developments hit certain sales numbers, or when population levels reach a specific level.

Supporting a growing city

Council is working with developers and State Government to design and build critical infrastructure for new suburbs, while renewing infrastructure in older areas so it remains fit for purpose. This year you will see:

Supporting A Growing City

New residents call Playford home

2209 Playford News 4
Chris Bayly and Cass Kotsoglous of Angle Vale.
2209 Playford News 1
Lesley and Paul Newitt of Elizabeth East.

Chris Bayly and Cass Kotsoglous of Angle Vale and Paul and Lesley Newitt of Elizabeth East are two couples experiencing the benefits of growth in Playford first-hand. Chris and Cass recently moved to Angle Vale’s Miravale Estate, from Walkerville and Gawler respectively.

“Angle Vale’s a great place to raise a family,” said Cass. “There are options for schools, a community vibe and easy access to Adelaide.”

Partner, Chris, agrees. “We’ve got the Barossa on our doorstep and shops and the expressway nearby.”

Fifteen minutes away in Elizabeth East, Paul and Lesley Newitt are also experiencing the benefits of growth.

“Elizabeth is an older area, but with plenty of development going on,” Paul said.

The couple returned to the suburb eight years ago after living in the area from 1972 to 1984.

“It’s a great area to live with a strong sense of community,” they said. “We walk a lot and have noticed footpaths have recently been improved and roads resealed. The Grenville Hub, where we volunteer for Home Assist, and Fremont Park, are in striking distance. “Elizabeth is busier than it used to be, but you can access facilities easily.”