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Act now to preserve our Historic Conservation Zones

posted 13 Aug 2018, 01:45 by Christel Mex

Our Historic Conservation Zones could be at risk if the State Government’s draft planning policies go ahead. They include 99 new policies that sit under 16 policy categories. When you read them, you will probably agree with many of the aspirations which include adaptive reuse, conserving biodiversity, addressing housing supply and water security. However, while most policy areas have an average of six policies, Cultural Heritage only has two. In my opinion, what is alarming is the complete lack of reference to Historic Conservation Zones. 

These zones were established to preserve our historic streetscapes and villages for future generations. The zones include many heritage residences and businesses that embody the character of South Australia, and when maintained as a collection, create a beautiful amenity for all citizens to enjoy. The zones can be found in our country town high streets, inner-city hotspots and residential neighbourhoods. 

These draft planning policies are putting Historic Conservation Zones at risk. Why?

·     There is no mention of them in any of the new planning policies. Hence, one could only logically conclude that they will disappear in the absence of any policy clarity and become areas targeted for infill development.

·     If the zones are withdrawn from the planning system, contributory items are at risk of demolition. In their place will be new houses that under the new planning system will allow for a tick-box system of approvals and private certifiers. 

·     Currently, most houses in Historic Conservation Zones are called Contributory Items. Policy controls in Council development plans protect against their demolition but allow non-contributory items to be replaced with dwellings that complement the streetscape. If the historic zones disappear, there is a risk that these new dwellings will look out of place and ruin the historic character of these zones forever. There will bigger houses covering most of the allotments, more pavement, less garden area, and less biodiversity for our native animals and birds. 

·     Most of South Australia is already zoned residential, which allows for all types of dwellings to be accommodated. Low-density and low-rise development, which characterises Historic Conservation Zones, is entirely excluded in the State planning policies’ definition of inner suburbs. This is another clue that indicates that Heritage Conservation Zones will be excluded from established suburbs including Unley, Norwood, Prospect, Mile End, Thebarton, Port Adelaide, Mitcham Village, Goodwood, Medindie and Toorak Gardens.

The Community Engagement Charter for the new planning system aims to reduce input on individual development applications with consultation instead on high-level documents such as these planning policies. Once implemented, it is unclear whether residents will have a say in any local development assessments. There is no right of appeal for anyone apart from applicants under new performance-assessed approvals.

The public only has until 7 September 2018 to have their say on these draft policies. For more information go to Email your submission to, post it to GPO Box 1815, Adelaide 5001 and email Minister for Planning with your views at