Region plans for growth

Massive population boost – but horticulture industry wants ‘blueprint’ action

The State government recently announced a new plan for the north of Adelaide, which suggests 38,000 new homes will be built over the next 30 years in the area.

Its Playford Growth Area Structure Plan will also see 100,000 new residents brought to the communities of Angle Vale, Virginia, Buckland Park, Edinburgh and Playford North and hundreds of potential jobs created.

While the District Council of Mallala was not mentioned in the plan, the region will no doubt be affected by such a population growth.

DCM chief executive officer, Charles Mansueto, said he had not looked in depth at the plan but welcomed the flow-on possibility of population growth and possible jobs for the region.

“We will be considering the proposed plan for the Playford growth structure plan and its implications in more detail in coming weeks,” he said.

“If council feels it needs to put in a submission to the state government, then we will.”

The expansion could possibly see the largely Virginia-based horticulture industry pushed north, effectively creating more industry in the district and potentially hundreds of new jobs, Mr Mansueto said.

“A lot of our industry at the moment, particularly as you get past Two Wells, is broad acre farming but there are some small pockets of horticulture in the district, particularly along the Gawler River,” he said.

“As a council we’re obviously supportive of the horticulture industry and are already working with the city of Playford in terms of protecting and enhancing the horticulture industry across the two council areas.

Mr Mansueto said council had withdrawn its application of $15 million to round four of the Regional Development Australia Fund (to be announced in July) for the proposed Northern Adelaide Irrigation Scheme to pipe water from the Bolivar Waste Water Treatment Plant to Two Wells. This was due to the private partner pulling out.

“Council now is looking at a revised project that still will deliver many of the benefits hoped for in the initial application,” Mr Mansueto said. “But to expand requires access to more water.”

This is a pathway fully supported by Grow SA’s chief executive, Mike Redmond, who, although supportive of the plan in general, was disappointed the horticulture industry was not consulted.

Based at the Virginia Horticulture Centre, Mr Redmond said if the industry was pushed north into what has traditionally been “sheep and wheat” country, steps need to be taken now to ensure the correct infrastructure was in place to support this move.

Mr Redmond says he will be writing to planning minister John Rau, to outline his concerns.

“If this is a forward projection for 30 years we really need to be working now to get infrastructure into that area so there is somewhere for that industry to go,” he said.

“Government needs to make a commitment to horticulture that it will help put infrastructure needs in place, it’s an industry that already employs 3000 people in the north of Adelaide.

“Horticulture is the biggest part of the South Australian agricultural economy, and yet these sorts of announcements are made, that’s fine, if that’s progress, that’s progress, but for the food security of South Australia and Australia, we need to be working with government to ensure this is a planned thing.”

Mr Redmond said the Virginia Horticulture Centre, in conjunction with Playford and Mallala councils had funded the compilation of a blueprint for the horticulture industry’s growth back in 2009.

This blueprint outlined plans for the growers to move 20km further north, he said, giving the industry a chance to grow in scale, use better equipment and implement more innovative practices.

“We want to be proactive about this and we have been proactive,” Mr Redmond said.

“I’m not arguing it’s necessarily the wrong thing to do, but if we’re going to expand into what’s currently the food bowl of South Australia we have to make some sort of plans for where the food is going to come from and where that industry is going to go.”

Member for Taylor, Leesa Vlahos, whose electorate is greatly affected by the proposed plan, is urging the local community to have their say.

She said more than 30,000 postcards would soon be delivered to residents encouraging them to be involved in the consultation process.

“I am encouraging everyone who lives or works in the local community to have a say on what they want for our area,” Mrs Vlahos stated.

“Education services, public transport, emergency services, health care and recreation will all need to be considered for future developments.

“Providing employment opportunities is an essential part of the plan.”

Maps and fact sheets on the Playford Growth Area Structure Plan can be found at www.dpti.sa.gov.au/planning/playfordgrowth.

Through this site residents can also register to be kept up to date with what is happening with the plan as it progresses.

Mr Mansueto said the growing horticulture industry was important for the region in that it could possibly provide hundreds of local jobs.

Mr Mansueto said DCM was already working with nearby councils, including Salisbury, Playford, Light and Gawler councils as part of the Northern Adelaide Regional Collaboration to promote the northern region.

“We’re all facing the same pressures,” he said.

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