Help save the Adelaide Parklands

Picture of the Adelaide Parklands

The Parklands are Adelaide's greatest asset. It's a ring of parks that surround the city's centre. In 1837 Colonel Light designed the layout of Adelaide, and he included 931 hectares (2300 acres) of parklands. It's quite unique.

The Parklands are continually under threat from people and groups who want to develop the land. Over the years, politicians have allowed all sorts of junk to be placed in the Parklands.

Developers lust after the Parklands. Wealthy developers pay politically savvy lobbyists to influence and befriend politicians. These lobbyists are often ex-politicians, so that the boundaries between friendship, comradeship and business become blurred. Organisations funded by developers bombard newspapers with press-releases promoting the "so-called" benefits of developing the Parklands. People opposing development are portrayed as "old fashioned" or as whingers. Adelaide is supposedly doomed to become a backwater if we don't let the developers have their way.

In earlier years, it was a politician's greatest legacy to create a Park for the people. Now politicians are giving away open space everywhere to developers. In the past, wealthy business people donated land and money to the community to create parks. It seems that these days the majority of the wealthy will only donate something if they get something more valuable in return.

Picture of the Adelaide Parklands Picture of the Adelaide Parklands Picture of the Adelaide Parklands Picture of the Adelaide Parklands Picture of the Adelaide Parklands

Remember the expression :
"You don't really know a person until you have to share an inheritance with them."
Well, you could also say:
"You don't really know a sporting group until you share a bit of the Parklands with them".

Sporting groups in the Parklands often evolve into money hungry corporations that will do anything to the Parklands to survive. Since politicians like to strut at sporting events, they are often complicit in the destruction of the Parklands.

Picture of the Adelaide Parklands

For more information please visit the Adelaide Parklands Preservation Association at www.adelaide-parklands.org
Please donate money to the Association, they need all the money they can get.

The following page explains how you can donate to the Association: How to Donate to the Adelaide Parklands Preservation Association

Picture of the Adelaide Parklands

Images are from the Adelaide City Council web site (used with permission) - www.adelaidecitycouncil.com

The original purpose of this web page was to try and prevent a large corporate facility being built in the Parklands (in the section called Victoria Park). This threat has diminished - but with a change of politicians this issue could flare up again. Please read the following articles from the Advertiser and Sunday Mail (www.adelaidenow.com.au) to understand the pressure the Parklands are under.


Parkland poachers mar vision for city

By MARK HAMILTON

The Advertiser
April 13, 2010

A FLEETING glance at Colonel William Light's Plan for the Town of Adelaide 1837 would have been enough to tell Minister Gail Gago that she is plainly wrong to suggest that he intended any form of permanent development in Adelaide's parklands belt.

Colonel Light carefully specified the uses to which the parklands could be put, designating land as "government reserves" for the development of facilities such as Government House, Adelaide Gaol, Parliament House, police barracks, the Torrens Parade Ground and Botanic Gardens. He designated the balance of land as open parklands to be held in perpetuity for the benefit of the citizens of Adelaide.

In accordance with Colonel Light's wishes, the government reserves were given over to the Colonial Government and developed for their designated purposes. Title to the parklands was given to the Adelaide City Council to be held on trust in perpetuity for future generations.

Despite various government attempts at grabs for free land, city councils have been remarkably successful at keeping the state government "wolf" at bay over the past 175 years.

Only 85 hectares (209 acres) out of a total 944ha (2332 acres) - or just 9 per cent - have been alienated by state governments, and always in the face of fierce city council and community opposition. Even this is beyond the areas that Colonel Light set aside as government reserves within the parklands area.

The most recent failed land grab, of course, was the State Government's attempt to build a large corporate entertainment facility in Victoria Park.

If colonial and state governments had been left to manage the parklands, instead of city councils, there would be very little left today.

A case in point is the 400-plus hectares (1000 acres) of parklands left to the citizens of Sydney by the Lachlan Macquarie Bequest. Successive New South Wales governments have pillaged Sydney's parklands to the point where there is only 30 per cent of the original bequest left today.

The railway yards to the northwest of Adelaide represented the single biggest parklands grab by a colonial or state government.

Ten hectares with a priceless 1.3km River Torrens frontage were alienated in two phases in 1880 and 1913 and turned over to the then Railways Commission, despite the protests of both the city council and the community.

The recent stadium and hospital debates have presented a 100-year opportunity to reverse what was one of the worst decisions made in relation to our parklands.

The proposed hospital plan should not go ahead because, apart from a waste of $1 billion to $1.5 billion of taxpayers' money, it desecrates one of the most significant parts of Colonel Light's parklands vision.

Instead, the railway yards land should be returned to the public - for example, for development of a waterfront recreational area that can host bigger concerts and community events beyond the capacity of Elder Park.

The Adelaide City Council has always been able to argue for the long-term interests of the city, including the parklands, whereas state political parties make policy based largely on short-term electoral cycles.

The drum that the Adelaide City Council and community must continue to beat is that current and future state governments must learn to resist the lure of free parklands in the interests of present and future generations.

Governments should think hard about the reasons for the massive swing in inner-city seats in the recent state election.

Mark Hamilton, a commercial lawyer, is a former Deputy Lord Mayor of Adelaide.

The Advertiser


Parklands for plunder

Brad Crouch,
Sunday Mail (South Australia)
May 30, 2010

ADELAIDE'S parklands are under siege from a range of planned developments, failure to return land designated for rehabilitation and a procession of Government ministers calling for open space to be turned over to new developments.

The Transport Department is finalising a new O-Bahn corridor through the parklands from Hackney Rd to Grenfell St.

Construction is expected to be completed by June 2012, based on a $61 million grant from the Federal Government, according to the department.

It is one of a host of developments either planned, being considered or attempted in recent times which would eat into the parklands.

These include the expansion of Adelaide Oval, building the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, new permanent parking areas for sports fixtures, the Adelaide Convention Centre expansion, improving the Britannia Roundabout and permanent motor sport infrastructure with corporate suites.

Ministers on the public record as wanting developments built in parklands - ranging from Paris-style apartment blocks with shops on the ground floor, to car parks to the O-Bahn corridor - now include Treasurer Kevin Foley, Transport Minister Patrick Conlon, Urban Development Minister Paul Holloway and City of Adelaide Minister Gail Gago.

About 10 per cent of the parklands' 944ha has already been alienated by successive state governments for uses such as transport depots, rail lines and parking.

Mr Foley this week told Parliament an audit of car parking for the upgraded Adelaide Oval was being conducted, which included using industrial land in the parklands as car parking. He called on private investors to build car parks for the oval, saying the Government would not foot the bill.

The O-Bahn plan is well underway. A Transport Department statement said plans would soon be presented to Parliament's Public Works Committee.

"Concept plans and traffic modelling are being finalised by the Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure for the three stages of the O-Bahn project: Hackney Road, the section using existing roads through the parklands from Hackney Road to Grenfell St, and through Grenfell and Currie streets." the statement read.

Parklands advocate and former deputy Lord Mayor Mark Hamilton said the parklands were viewed as vacant real estate. "The sands are shifting quite quickly about what is parkland and what the Government says should be for public benefit," Mr Hamilton said.

"We are now talking about things like spending tens of millions of dollars on a footbridge to Adelaide Oval to save people strolling about 100m on a perfectly good existing bridge.

"I'm not against car parking in the parklands - it is quite pleasant and you can have a barbecue and enjoy the day - but that is completely different to constructing multi-storey car parks in the parklands.

"The romantic notion of using public transport to come into town, having dinner, then strolling to the Oval to watch a game is completely at odds with the push to get parking built on the parklands. State governments have a history of trying to purloin parklands. It is one of our great treasures but it is under siege."

The call by Mr Hamilton to safeguard the parklands comes as the State Government moves to carve up other significant open space in the face of public protests, including at Cheltenham, St Clair and Glenside.

Meanwhile, Adelaide City Council was unable to say what had happened to 25ha of land earmarked for return to the parklands more than a decade ago.

An ACC plan in 1999 identified 25ha of land as "priority areas of alienated parklands to be returned to council for community use", including:

1.8ha former RAH car park off Frome Rd.

13ha Victoria Park site.

5.9ha SA Water site.

3.4ha west of Morphett St Bridge. ADELAIDE Gaol.

NETBALL courts on Anzac Hwy

A BUILDING on Hutt Rd earmarked for removal.

Sunday Mail


The Race for our Parklands

By TIM LLOYD

Heritage Matters,
The Advertiser
August 21, 2004

HAVING generously been given access to the Parklands in the first place, sports clubs are forever trying to cement their claims.

This week's attempt at a land grab by the South Australian Jockey Club and motor sport boards is the latest bout in the never-ending battle.

The SAJC hopes to sell land that it actually owns - Cheltenham Racecourse - and firm up its grip on land that it doesn't - Victoria Park.

Victoria Park belongs to the public, not horse or car racing, and that fact has been conveniently forgotten. Its SAJC lease actually expires in a fortnight.

In the meantime the new double racetrack layout hands a permanent starting grid grandstand to car racing, something we were promised would never happen.

There are several very serious heritage issues at stake here.

First, the idea of taking the heritage-listed Victoria Park grandstand out of its horse racing context and devoting it to car racing is completely outrageous.

The grandstand is part of the state's horse racing history and certainly has nothing to do with car racing, refurbished or not.

Under the new plan, horses would not come within hundreds of metres of the grandstand.

The second outrage is that making the car racing stand a permanent two-faced structure, catering to cars on the east and horses on the west.

The current temporary grandstands are an annual blot out in the middle of the Parklands that the public bemoans for two months of the year.

The proposed layout would cement them there for all time and double the issues of access and security that already bedevil the area.

The SAJC vision flies completely in the face of campaigns to return more of the Parklands to public amenity.

At present, the car and horse racetracks are integrated within the horse racetrack layout but the proposal separates the two - nearly doubling the amount of space taken up by the racetracks.

While the SAJC offers to return a section of the existing racetrack to parklands, it does not mention the huge amount of extra parklands space that the separated two racetracks will require.

In terms of usage, the cynical could argue that the sale of the Cheltenham Racecourse would offer the opportunity for far more racing at Victoria Park. Whether the local residents and general parklands users would see it this way is another matter altogether.

Worse still is the possibility that a permanent, dedicated, car racetrack would have to justify its existence by offering increased noisy car racing in the Parklands.

Many people grudgingly approved of Formula 1 car racing in the Parklands because of the prestige of the event. They had no idea it would continue to be used for car-racing after Formula 1.

Now we have the possibility that yet another lever being pulled to take the Parklands away from its intent: a serene and quiet breathing space in a bustling city.

The Advertiser


Keep hands off Adelaide's unique parklands

By Steve Condous [Steve Condous is a former lord mayor of Adelaide and former MP]

The Advertiser
March 9, 2007

The greatest privilege ever given me in my life, is to have lived every single day in Adelaide. I totally support the Clipsal 500 [car race] because of the benefits to the economy, to the tourism and hospitality industries and the thousands of young South Australians who work in it.

It also gives SA the opportunity to show the rest of Australia and the world that, when it comes to major events, we're simply the best.

Our parklands are the envy of Australia and the world sees Adelaide as a beautiful city built in the middle of a park.

I was the first to applaud the government, when Premier Mike Rann and then environment minister John Hill announced the passing of the parklands preservation Bill and declared the parklands safe from further development of public buildings.

If the proposed redevelopment of Victoria Park proceeds, South Australians will forever blame this Government for its decimation, and history will record that fact. I am ashamed at the building of the Wine Centre and Next Generation Gym on parklands.

I fought against it and lost. I support Jane Lomax-Smith in her fight to save Victoria Park.

As former lord mayors we are committed to saving every inch of the "people's park". The present Lord Mayor Michael Harbison is nowhere to be heard on this issue. He should be opposing this development and telling the Government the council will not issue a new lease to the SA Jockey Club.

If he supports the grandstand, ratepayers will voice their opinion through the ballot box in the council elections in November.

If this building in Victoria Park proceeds Adelaide will become famous for the wrong reasons; every planning conference worldwide will cite it as an example of how irresponsible and destructive planning destroyed one of the great parks of Adelaide, using before and after photographs. This $55 million grandstand will be the biggest and ugliest structure built on Adelaide's parklands.

Adelaide has always been seen as a city committed to planning excellence, yet now, to save $1 million each year to erect and dismantle the pits stand, we are prepared to desecrate the greatest asset this city has - its beautiful and unique parklands.

Every weekend Veale Gardens and Rymill, Elder, Bonython and Botanic parks are filled with thousands of SA families enjoying barbecues and picnics. The parklands are the greatest asset given us by Colonel Light, whose vision nearly 200 years ago surveyed a city surrounded by parklands, five major squares, a perfect grid of wide roads, and a river flowing through the city. It is the very reason we enjoy the quality of life we have today.

It is time for all South Australians to stand up and stop this horrendous building proceeding. The parklands belong to the people, not governments. Enough is enough.

We owe it to future generations to hand them unspoilt parklands.

No structure 250 meters long and three or four storeys high can enhance Victoria Park.

Let the SAJC stay at Cheltenham and Morphettville [race courses], run the Clipsal 500 on the existing track, erect and dismantle all structures, then demolish all walls and grandstands and ugly buildings except the heritage grandstand and hand over Victoria Park to the rightful owners, the Kaurna people and the citizens of SA.

The Advertiser


Don't let our parklands be lost forever

By Rex Jory

The Advertiser
September 25, 2006

ADELAIDE people don't appreciate their city parklands. I sometimes wonder whether we deserve such fabulous amenities. The Adelaide parklands are unique. They are something utterly special, spasmodically beautiful, potentially stunning.

They give the city space, light and air. Sections of them, particularly to the east and the south, rank among the loveliest and most diverse public city parks in the world. Other areas, to the west, are shamefully neglected, under-developed and certainly under-utilised.

While we neglect sections of our parklands, we cannot claim comparisons with London's St James Park, New York's Central Park, or Melbourne's Fitzroy Gardens.

Social and architectural commentator, Peter Ward, has said the parklands are beyond the capabilities of the Adelaide City Council to maintain and upgrade.

He said the ACC's budget of $12 million a year was to look after more than 700ha of parklands, compared with Melbourne's $23 million to look after 560ha.

Successive state governments also share responsibility for the condition of the parklands.

Former Adelaide lord mayor, Lewis Cohen, said in 1910: "The parks are the pride and glory of this city - the best and greatest asset it has, or ever can have. "To every generation they are becoming more valuable. "Let us therefore keep them inviolate, keep them intact, keep them sacred from the hands of despoilers." We have failed Mr Cohen's vision of almost a century ago. What we have is still marvellous despite the creeping greed and stupidity of successive governments, state and local. What madness it was to construct the Adelaide Boys High School in the West Parklands. And what madness it will be to allow a permanent grandstand and pits for a car race in the East Parklands. In the late 1990s, I was on a city council committee which helped draft a blueprint for the future development of the parklands. There was no request, or support, for a grandstand. Nor should there have been.

The City Council has a pile of reports as tall as our imposing Lord Mayor, Michael Harbison, outlining plans for the parklands. As G.K. Chesterton once wrote: "I have searched all the parks in all the cities, and found no statues of committees". It should be the people, not committees, who decide the future of the parklands.

I suspect that the people, either living and working in the city or in the fringe inner suburbs, don't want great sections of their parklands fenced off for much of the year. They don't want crass commercialisation. They don't want permanent monuments to motor sports.

Imagine what would happen in London if someone suggested building a grandstand in Green Park beside Buckingham Palace or in Sydney's Hyde Park? A walk in the parklands is revealing. Yesterday morning, 50 ducks and half as many ducklings trawled a rain-filled puddle in the East Parklands. Four kookaburras perched on a single gum tree branch near East Tce. Superbly coloured parrots flashed through the trees and fossicked on the grass.

Few cities in the world have such beauty so close to the business and retail districts. Adelaide's parklands are special and unique. Either we want them gently, subtly maintained and upgraded - and no one doubts there is room for improvement - or we are content to allow the incremental erosion of open space by permanent infrastructure.

We should heed U.S. president John F. Kennedy, who said: "It is our task in our time and in our generation to hand down undiminished to those who come after us, as was handed down to us by those who went before us, the natural wealth and beauty which is ours".

The Advertiser