Newsletter - February 2020

The Cracked Code

The fabric of St Peters, College Park, Hackney, Joslin, Stepney, and Maylands may be changed forever with the adoption of the State Government’s Planning and Design Code, which is out for public consultation until February 28th. It collapses all Council development plans into one on-line planning portal. It appears to be a “one-size-fits-all” and “lowest-common- denominator” approach.

While the NPSP Development Plan may not be perfect, it has been carefully developed over the last 25 years and is better than the Plans of most other Councils, particularly in relation to heritage protection and infill housing.

Further to the newsletter circulated last week by St Peters Ward Councillors Moore and Moorhouse we would like to reiterate that under the new planning laws residents will lose appeal rights against almost all new development. Now with the release of the draft Code, heritage protection will be further diminished, and we'll likely see more sub-division, ugly box buildings and fewer backyards & trees.

While the glossy flyers and promotional videos make it appear wonderful, here are some realities:

  • We will lose the listing of all Contributory Items. These are historic buildings that as a collection, make up the character and streetscape of our Historic Conservation Zones. Currently, these buildings have strong demolition controls. With the new code, demolition controls will be severely weakened.
  • The Historic Conservation Zones will be replaced by Historic Area Overlays. The overlays will have local 'Historic Area Statements' that describe the attributes of the local area. These, we were told, would include important matters like minimum allotment sizes, minimum street frontages, the historical era that applies, materials to be used in new buildings or additions, the scale of the built form, fencing styles, and roof pitches. The Historic Area Statements were however just released on 22nd December and contain only broad statements of the character and characteristics of the area, but little detail. The current Development Plan has Desired Character Statements for the various Policy Areas, and these have gone from about 1000 words to only 250 or so!
  • New demolition tests appear in the draft Historic Area Overlay that are much weaker than what exists in our current NPSP Development Plan. For example, in the new Code a building can be demolished if the 'facade does not contribute to the historic character of the streetscape' or the original verandah has been removed. An astute developer could easily argue that if a building is hidden by a large fence or hedge, it doesn't contribute to the streetscape and therefore could be demolished. These buildings will quickly be cherry picked by developers with wall-to-wall boxes erected in their place.
  • Some zones, like Urban Corridor Zones and Suburban Main Street Zones, will have a new building height policy that allows for much taller buildings in the future. This will mean loss of amenity and privacy for adjacent dwellings. And 'significant development sites' get a 30% height bonus!
  • The Code will allow 6-storey development on school grounds, on minor shopping centre sites such as those on Stephen Terrace at Sixth and Seventh Avenues and on main roads such as Payneham Road and Magill Road.

If you care about the historic fabric of our area, now is the time to act.

Here's what you need to do:

  • Write to our local MP the Hon Steven Marshall MP:
  • Sign the petition that is going to Parliament soon. It is available at the St Peters Library or can be downloaded at this website:
    It needs to be returned in hard copy to the library or the address on the form.
  • Like and share Facebook posts
  • Send your own submission on the Code by 28th February. They can be made by email to:
  • Attend the Special Council meeting on Wednesday 19th of February at 7.00 pm to hear Council debate its submission on the Code. A good turn-out to the meeting at the Norwood Town Hall will send a message to government about the extent of community concern.
  • Attend the rally planned for the steps of Parliament House at 11am Sunday 22nd of March organised by Community Alliance.

To see how the Code will affect your property, you can access the draft Code, fact sheets and other information from the SA Planning Portal:

The Code needs to be read in conjunction with the online mapping tool which is also available on the SA Planning Portal. Unfortunately, the Code and mapping tool have been published with errors and inconsistencies including missing mapping information and missing/incomplete policies and wording.

For assistance in understanding the Code, you can contact the State Planning Commission on 1800 318 102.

For more information contact David Cree on 0418 622 163 or email to

Letter From State Planning Commission

Residents in the Historic Conservation Zone would have recently received a letter from the State Planning Commission to provide assurance that there is nothing to fear from the new Planning Design Code. SPRA fails to be convinced by this.

Rather than providing a commentary on the letter we feel that the following analysis of it by Professor Warren Jones, the Convenor of the Protect our Heritage Alliance, says it all.

6 February 2020


The State Planning Commission continues to deceive and befuddle the public with its shambolic Planning and Design Code. Now it is sending misleading letters to property owners about proposed changes to the rules protecting the historic character of our streets, neighbourhoods, suburbs and towns.

The draft Planning and Design Code, the proposed ‘rule book’ governing future planning and development, was released in October for public consultation- riddled with holes, errors and inconsistencies. Even experienced planning professionals struggle to cope with the morass of detail- more than 62 000 pages of published material- and a dysfunctional online information system. The public have no hope of grappling with all of the bureaucratic jargon and poorly organised information produced to date.

As part of their campaign of misinformation about the radical changes being slipped through under the Planning and Design Code, the State Planning Commission has now written to 52,000 owners of properties in currently designated historic conservation areas. The current zoning of these areas protects the houses and other buildings that have been recognised as adding unique and special value to our streets, neighbourhoods, suburbs and towns.

In what must be one of the finest examples of bureaucratic weasel words ever produced, this letter purports to invite the owner’s feedback but provides no information of substance about the proposed changes. Perhaps most misleading is the statement in the letter that the changes proposed are not “fundamental” but rather a simple change of “policy wording or expression”.

Those who have received this letter are confused and suspicious of a letter which is so evasive in its purpose and its message.

The Commission is trying to replace existing defined protections with loosely worded and poorly defined “historic area statements” that would significantly reduce the scope of what is protected and respected in future developments within these historic areas.

There is no acknowledgement from the Government that the proposed changes to zoning and development rules will put the amenity and property values of these neighbourhoods at risk. It is however an established fact that heritage protection in historic areas adds a price premium of at least 20% to those homes. Once those historic streets and neighbourhoods are degraded with infill development, that price premium will vanish as the unique points of difference will be gone. Owners are right to be angry about such an assault on the value of their properties and neighbourhoods.

Under these proposed rules the creeping spread of cheap infill development within our suburbs and towns will come at the expense of the historic conservation areas that define them. This strikes at the heart of what makes these areas unique, cherished and highly valuable.

Owners who have purchased properties within these areas did so with the expectation that the historic character of their neighbourhoods would be protected, not sacrificed to more infill development.

We urge owners receiving these letters from the State Planning Commission to demand the full story about the changes proposed in their areas and to hold the Government to account for this shifty attempt to gut current heritage protections and diminish the value and amenity of thousands of properties across the State.

Professor Warren Jones AO is the Convenor of the Protect our Heritage Alliance, a coalition of concerned organisations and individuals, working to protect our built and natural environment.
Phone: 0419 852 622, Email:

Code Implementation Is To Be Delayed

Last week the Planning Minister Stephan Knoll announced that the implementation of the Code will be delayed by at least three months to September 2020.

In his Press Release Minister Knoll said: -

“This is a generational reform of our planning system so if industry and the community want more time to get it right, then we are open to granting them that time.
It would be counterproductive to the planning system and developments across South Australia if we were to ignore the feedback from councils and the community and push ahead with the initial timelines.”

BUT the Minister does not give more time for the Community to comment on the Code. It remains as 28th February!

The full Press Release can be found here.