In attempting to save us from ‘NIMBYism’ and ‘fruitless sentimentality’ with the forthcoming implementation of the new planning system, David Penberthy offers mixed messages (The Advertiser 12/2/21). On the one hand, he approves of high rise suburban residential development in Adelaide, but on the other, decries the tenement towers now common in Sydney suburbs. He rejects the ‘excessive and unsightly growth’ in Sydney and Melbourne, and wants ‘better designed smaller homes’.

In 2019, members of a long established community group were labelled ‘NIMBYists’ by your columnist for opposing a high rise development on Unley Rd. This was a State (SCAP) approved seven storey development in a Council-designated five storey zone, which required the destruction of five mature trees.

We are now confronted by an ugly monolith abutting the footpath of a main road and a small side street, with no open space or greening, with a major shortfall of on-site car parks and with disruptive impacts on traffic, rubbish collection and other services.
This sort of excessive development, which circumvents Council controls and community wishes, will be more common with the State-sanctioned, Planning and Design Code to be implemented on March 19.

Surely the Government can create a balance between essential housing needs and restricted urban sprawl, and the temptation to despoil our unique and beautiful city with unrestrained crowded infill and suburban high rise development.

Warren Jones
Convenor. Protect our Heritage Alliance

Thanks for the opportunity to speak with you this evening. Whilst you all look like friendly sorts, and I’m not generally a nervy type, I have to confess to feeling less than optimal facing a room full of people with your track record. There must be a cumulative total of hundreds of years of protecting heritage directly in front of me – I hope you’ll forgive me any nerves!

To start, let me run you over the route of a Hills Freeway proposal:

Proposed to be part of a new route between the South Eastern Freeway and the CBD, the route begins ” in the city, curves out through College Park and St Peters, then cuts a swathe through Norwood, Rose Park, Myrtle Bank and Urrbrae, slicing through Peter Waite’s paddock before following the Belair Road on a new route through the Adelaide Hills.”

This was one of several freeway proposals from the MATS plan. I don’t know whether to be relieved that this was shelved or horrified that this is obviously how “they” in DPTI, DIT or its equivalent have always worked. This new route through the hills would have roughly paralleled Sheoak and Charlicks Roads to join the Princes Highway at Crafers.

So, to the gatehouse!

You’re no doubt aware that it was built as the gatehouse to Urrbrae estate in 1890 and state heritage listed – not only is it a significant building in terms of the role it played in the Urrbrae estate, but it is one of only a few Gothic revival buildings in Adelaide. The Arboretum too, is state heritage listed, quite literally an invaluable scientific resource. All of the trees there survive solely on rainfall and are great examples of what grows well in our tough Adelaide climate. I would encourage you, if you haven’t already done so, to download the Waite arboretum app and take yourself on one of the guided tours it proposes, or join one of the guided tours they run on the first Sunday of every month, COVID permitting. Not only are the trees awe-inspiring – many of them are more than one hundred years old – but from deep inside the arboretum you have absolutely no idea that you are in fact on land surrounded by busy main roads. Maybe that’s why DIT always wants to take out big old trees, as they can go a long way towards helping us forget that THEY exist! Read more …

Help save the Waite Gatehouse. Download and send the letter to members of State parliament. Contact Joanna Wells

George Morgan. Great great grandson of Peter Waite

(Based on a public address given on the Waite Campus on 31st January 2021)

My name is George Morgan, and I speak on behalf of the 53 living relatives of pastoralist and State benefactor, Peter Waite. I wish to pose a question on behalf of these descendants.

Who are these people who wish to annex this land and raze the State heritage listed Gatehouse Lodge, an integral part of my great great grandfather Peter Waite’s legacy to South Australia?

Throughout my life I have driven past the Waite Institute. As children we were reminded that our ancestor’s bequest had created this agricultural Research Station. We have all visited the Urrbrae House museum many times, and are proud of the achievements and legacy of Peter and Matilda Waite.

Who are these people that would ransack this legacy? Did they, too, not wonder what is this place, as they were driven past the tilled fields and swaying crops, here deep in suburbia? In addition to the bequest of land and money for the Research Institute, there was the establishment of the Arboretum, a marvellous library of trees, aimed at assessing their viability in South Australian conditions, and as an ongoing botanical resource.

Who are these people who fail to recognise the intrinsic value of public gardens, parks and trees? For us, a plant is a source of constant satisfaction and a public park a site where imagination can take flight and soar.

Who are these people and how did they learn to see a park as nothing at all, if not something to be sold, privatised and covered in bitumen and cement?

Peter Waite believed in future prosperity being driven by science, and the technologies that spun out of research. He recognised that feeding the world was a worthy ambition, and he wanted to be instrumental in an improved and abundant food production utilising the experimental crop facility in the Research Institute.

He loved new adaptive technologies. In the early 1900s he installed the first refrigeration unit in the State, and his daughters drove an electric car powered by batteries made of iron.

Who are these people whose vision for the future goes only so far as to lay down bitumen so that traffic may wait ten seconds less? Are there not more imaginative solutions at hand in this modern world?

The Waite Research Institute clearly had an educational role, just as has the Urrbrae High School which was created on land and with funding from the Waite bequest.

For Peter Waite, the education of women was important, and, with others, he was instrumental in creating Seymour College, so that girls from city and country could enjoy and value opportunities for a good education.

Peter Waite had a vision spawned by post-reformation European enlightenment and contributing to the future of the State, its people and the nation. A vision of education as a priority, of scientific endeavor for the betterment of humanity, and of parks and open space for public amenity, curiosity and pleasure.

This is a vision, not based on last week’s election speech, not on yesterday’s press release spun by media dissemblers, but on action, generosity and a gift to the State over 100 years ago.

This vision is what created the South Australia where people aspire to live and thrive. A hopeful and creative vision that created the economic, political and cultural world we enjoy today. The citizens of South Australia are all the descendants of Peter Waite’s legacy.

But, again, who are these people who would despoil this legacy? They are our elected representatives and their bureaucratic machines. Have they forgotten, or did not realise, that they too are the custodians and beneficiaries of Peter Waite’s vision?

To demolish the Waite Gatehouse, to annex land from the park and the school, is an act of vandalism that defiles the very best and most admirable of South Australia’s history.

Who are these people who seek to do this?



Dear Supporter and Concerned Community Member,

Despite extensive and unprecedented community pushback, the State Government seems doggedly determined to ignore the imperative to save the 130 year old Waite Gatehouse.   If the Gatehouse is demolished it will be the first State Heritage listed structure to be destroyed by the State Government in SA history; a terrible legacy and a frightening precedent.

Minister Corey Wingard has chosen to ignore expert independent advice that the Gatehouse can safely be moved and preserved without any serious loss of trees.  The historic building has already been externally restored and can be renovated internally as part of the re-location process.

Contrary to misinformation from the Minister and his Department, there is adequate space and access to accommodate associated re-location processes and lay-down areas for excavated soil and equipment. 

There are a number of accessible re-location sites that will allow the Gatehouse, once again, to be connected to the avenue leading to Urrbrae House.  In a recent development, the Minister has attempted to deflect responsibility for a decision about the fate of the gatehouse by offering $2 million to the University of Adelaide to ‘solve the problem’.   This is a cynical attempt to compromise the University, which, if it rejects the offer, will be seen to be condemning the Gatehouse to demolition.

However, this money should not be disbursed in this way for political purposes.  If it accepts this ‘bribe’, the University will be complicit in diverting this fund away from its proper purpose, that is, supporting worthy heritage projects across the State.

As it turns out, in making this devious offer to the University, the Minister and his advisers have ‘wedged’ themselves.  In effect, it is an admission that the Government believes that the Gatehouse is worth saving and that $2 million should be made available to make this happen.  However this should come from the Department’s budget and not plundered from an earmarked general heritage fund.

And so, the fight goes on.   The Government must come to its senses and realise that the Electorate will never forget nor forgive the unnecessary and senseless destruction of the heritage Gatehouse.

You can help to put pressure on the Minister and his Government by: 
signing the online petition and sharing it with friends.
Downloading and collecting signatures on the hard copy petition to Parliament Writing to your State Member of Parliament (list of MP addresses)
Signing up to the Protect our Heritage website for email updates.

SUNDAY 31st JANUARY at 11am.  
Waite Campus:  Corner Fullarton and Cross Roads, Urrbrae  (map)

Stay COVID safe.  Masks and distancing.
Thank you and see you there,Warren Jones AO 

Tell your State MP to stop the destruction  Please write to your State MP  and ask them to stop the destruction of the Waite Gatehouse.
The Transport Minister Corey Wingard needs to find a better solution. 
 Download a list of State MP contacts 

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.   GPO Box 2021 Adelaide, SA 5001

Phone: 0419 852 622 
Email: convenor@protectourheritage.org.
Facebook: protectourheritageSA
Please raise your voice to stop this vandalism
Hundreds of protestors rallied at the Lodge last Sunday to protect the Lodge.

Dear Supporter/Concerned Community Member, 

The Government has announced its intention to demolish the 130 year old State Heritage listed Waite Gatehouse Lodge to clear the way for an unnecessary and massive intersection widening at Fullarton and Cross Roads.  

This has provoked an angry protest from across the community last Sunday and an unprecedented push back and extensive coverage from our local media.  (Advertiser opinion piece).

The Protect our Heritage Alliance has joined with other organisations to demand the relocation of the Lodge to an adjacent site in the Waite Arboretum, and the minimisation of any tree loss.State Heritage buildings must always be protected from demolition or their identification and listing is meaningless.  

The Government’s indifference to the fate of this historic icon bodes ill for South Australia’s heritage when protections are weakened under the forthcoming Planning and Design Code.

The editorial piece in InDaily uses the Gatehouse as a symbolic example of everything that is wrong with priorities in urban planning in Adelaide.Despite the public outcry, the Department of Transport and Infrastructure persists with its absurd and disingenuous justifications for demolition

The Premier and the Minister responsible for heritage have been silent, but other Liberal MPs have spoken out.  The Government clearly has misread the mood and will of the electorate on the Waite Gatehouse issue.  It needs to reverse its ill-considered decision and to appropriate funding to save this precious structure.

You can help to put pressure on the Minister and his Government by: 
signing the online petition and sharing it with friends.
Downloading and collecting signatures on the hard copy petition to Parliament
Writing to your State Member of Parliament (list of MP addresses)
Signing up to the Protect our Heritage website for email updates.

Tell your State MP to stop the destruction of the lodge 

Please write to your State MP  and ask them to stop the destruction of the Waite Gatehouse. The Transport Minister Corey Wingard needs to find a better solution.  

Download a list of State MP contacts 

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.   

GPO Box 2021 Adelaide, SA 5001

Phone: 0419 852 622 

Email: convenor@protectourheritage.org.auwww.protectourheritage.org.au     

Facebook: protectourheritageSA


Dear Supporter/Concerned Community Member,

The State Government has announced that it proposes to proceed with plans to demolish the state heritage listed Gatehouse or Lodge on the University of Adelaide Waite Campus to make way for a massive enlargement of the Fulllarton/Cross Rd intersection.   The  iconic and historic landmark, dating from 1890, will be lost along with 20 mature trees, some up to 120 years old.

This pointless intrusion on University and public property has resulted from a $61 million Commonwealth/State pork barrelling ploy at the last Federal election.  Isolated extensive intersection widening is a planning dinosaur, particularly if it will be bookended, for the foreseeable future, by intractable traffic bottlenecks.

The misleading project plan states that moving The Gatehouse would be infeasible and too expensive.    In fact, the Government’s own engineering report offers the option of successful relocation using modern methodology that has been used before in Adelaide and is commonplace around the world.

Surely it is not beyond the wit, expertise and imagination of the Department of Infrastructure and Transport to modify the extent of the plans, restrict the residential resumption requirements and save The Gatehouse.

Read the summary of the plans and misinformation in the Government proposal as outlined in INDAILY yesterday.

Join us in opposing this needless desecration of our heritage and history…………….

Waite Campus:  Corner Fullarton and Cross Roads (map)

SUNDAY 6th DECEMBER at 11am.  
Stay COVID safe.  Masks and distancing.

Thank you and see you there,

Warren Jones AO

Tell your State MP to stop the destruction 

Please write to your State MP  and ask them to stop the destruction of the Waite Gatehouse. The Transport Minister Corey Wingard needs to find a better solution.  Download a list of State MP contacts

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.   GPO Box 2021 Adelaide, SA 5001

Phone: 0419 852 622  Email: convenor@protectourheritage.org.au

www.protectourheritage.org.au       Facebook: protectourheritageSA

Overbudget…Overtime….Underdeveloped.. Unstoppable

Dear Supporter/Concerned Community Member,

The State Government’s Planning and Design Code has staggered into its final phase. Its last sham ‘consultation’ period will conclude on 18th December, because the State Planning Commission (SPC) had instructed the Planning Minister Vickie Chapman that it ‘wants resolution of that process’ by Christmas.

For her part, the Minister anticipates Code implementation ‘early next year, at some stage’ (whatever that means) and she wants it to be ‘done and dusted by June 2021’.

The current truncated sop to community consultation has been predictably underwhelming. Nine planned ‘drop-in’ sessions have been cancelled for lack of interest and three regional planning sessions have been abandoned. These revelations came from the Planning Minister and her staff under questioning by Labor Shadow Minister Jayne Stinson at the parliamentary Budget Estimates Committee on 23rd November 2020.

For the first time, we also heard what we are paying for the privilege of having future planning for our built and natural environment distorted and turned on its head by the new system. The original budget for the Code was $25.8 million set by the then Minister John Rau in 2016. It is now $43.6 million, comprising $27.6 million for capital costs, and $16.0 million for operating expenses.

In order to meet this 100% budget blowout, the Planning Department, through successive Ministers, has plundered $25.5 million from the supposedly quarantined Planning and Development (Open Space) Fund. This Fund was established to enhance our environment by mitigating the damaging effects of the crowded development it is now paradoxically supporting in the Code.

This short changing of our community amenity is compounded by the de-funding of Councils through an annual levy of up to $50,000 to support the Code e-planning platform and by the centralised diversion of planning application fees.

The key role of the SPC in this sorry saga is characterised by an out-of-control, but cumbersome and inefficient bureaucracy which seems to have bypassed community aspirations and government scrutiny.

The inordinate influence of the SPC on planning policy and process is tainted by concerns about its structure and function. Three of its four members have links to the development industry.

Understandably, there is an inherent public perception of conflict of interest in a system where developers dictate and monitor planning policy with such widespread implications for the lives of all South Australians. This perception is validated by the 41 instances of declared conflicts of interest by SPC members in 64 meetings to June 2020.

The transparency and accountability of the SPC must also be questioned when its agenda items are analysed. In a total of 182 items, 90 or 50% were designated confidential, and for the current year, presumably when the Commission became more sensitive to public concerns, this figure rose to 63%. Indeed, in the last meeting on 12th November, six of the seven agenda items were confidential.

Whilst it is possible that the majority of the SPC business is commercially confidential, if this is the case, it raises questions about the emphasis on private development and commercial interests in the planning system, at the expense of the rights of the community at large.

The governance of the SPC and the State Commission Assessment Panel (SCAP), along with the future of the Planning and Design Code, and its impending impact on the electorate, are issues that the Labor Opposition must address if it wishes to establish a credible position in the lead up to the March 2022 Election.

The damaging effects of the implementation of a still flawed Code on heritage, trees, local planning and development and lived amenity across the State, but particularly in metropolitan Adelaide, will escalate in the electorate over the next eighteen months. Labor must now recognise and respond to this important issue.

I urge you to write to members of the Opposition and cross bench to ask them to stand up for the community and the integrity of the planning system and insist on a rethink of the Planning and Design Code.

Warren Jones AO


Please write to Labor and cross bench MPs and ask them to stand up for the community to stop the Planning and Design Code being forced on metropolitan Adelaide before it is ready and the public has fully understood what is at risk.

Download a list of State MP contacts

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. GPO Box 2021 Adelaide, SA 5001

Phone: 0419 852 622

Email: convenor@protectourheritage.org.au


Facebook: protectourheritageSA

Deputy Premier and Minister for Planning and Local Government, Vickie Chapman MP, has written to FOCUS in response to correspondence sent to her on 1 November 2020, from the President of FOCUS, Philip Henschke. It relates to the Planning and Design code current being developed by the Marshall Government in South Australia.

This response letter dated 24 November 2020 can be downloaded,

You have received and hopefully read our President’s report around the time of our Nov 10 AGM. You would thereby know of Warren Jones’s decision to step down from his impressive leadership role. Unlike our US friends the FOCUS Presidential election was free of rancour and legal dispute. As sole nominee and eligible I was elected unopposed.

First, I briefly introduce myself before repeating elements of my tribute to Warren at the AGM (no thunder and lightning accompaniments).

I have lived in Unley since purchasing our Fisher St villa in 1973. Our three daughters could almost see the Unley Rd bus stop for their city secondary school travel. I also had a relatively painless commute to the Repatriation General and Flinders Medical Centre until retiring in 2010. I now additionally enjoy crisscrossing the Council area as a recreational and commuting cyclist.

My link with FOCUS began with our inaugural President and continuing committee member Ros Islip asking me to join the group when Unley was challenged by inappropriate high rise developments.

Unley residents within and beyond FOCUS know of Warren’s impressive advocacy in pressuring politicians on both sides of the divide over planning shortcomings in health services.

Warren continues to tackle Health ministers and bureaucrats in media, print and face to face to secure improved health services in our State hospital system, currently the Women’s and Children’s being the main issue.

Warren has not only led FOCUS in addressing shortcomings in the Planning and Design Code but applied his detailed knowledge of matters therein to being Convenor of a Statewide Protect our Heritage Alliance. FOCUS under Warren’s presidency has linked with a range of groups and individuals to educate citizens on the links between climate control and our living environment. We thank you Warren.

As Barry Jones says in his latest book “What’s to be done”. To effect change in these complex areas governments are too often found wanting. He calls on voters to engage, engage engage with our leaders. FOCUS provides one platform for your engagement


Philip Henschke
President FOCUS

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