A former rural township north of Adelaide is becoming a bustling hub, and residents say the infrastructure is failing to keep up.
- Angle Vale residents say infrastructure is not keeping up with the housing boom
- They want improved roads, footpaths and stormwater drains
- Local and state government representatives say it’s a complex issue
In Angle Vale, 40 kilometres north of Adelaide, 14 developers are working on new housing projects, and a brand-new superschool with capacity for 1,500 students is due to open at the start of next year.
But locals say the most basic infrastructure is not keeping up — and with so many more people expected to move into the area, some fear the situation will only get worse.
‘Not asking for much’: basic infrastructure lacking
Kylee Rana, 37, moved to Angle Vale 10 years ago, seeking space for her growing family.
“The block we chose was near a school where we thought we could see the kids going to long-term, and it just had a general nice feel of the area,” she said.
Ms Rana likes living in the area, but she said things were not exactly what she had imagined.
With exposed stormwater pipes, regular roadside flooding, and irregular — or non-existent — footpaths, she said she could not see the area coping with an influx of new residents in the years to come.
“It does create jobs and growth and all of that, so I’m all for that,” she said.
“Now that it’s getting bigger, I would have thought it would be more of a priority.”
She said the current quality and safety of local roads was so poor that she would “never” allow her children to take the two-minute walk to school.
‘How’s it going to cope with it all?’
Peter Dunn, 74, moved to Angle Vale six years ago from his long-term home of Kadina on the Yorke Peninsula, looking for a more “urban” lifestyle with his wife.
He said he had been pleading for upgrades around his home on Angle Vale Road ever since — but without any success.
“There’s no drainage, no deep drainage, no sewerage,” he said.
“I continually write to the government, the local MP … local councillor … [but] nothing happens.”
Mr Dunn dug his own makeshift drainage system from his backyard to the street after persistent flooding.
He said he “could not believe” how quickly new housing in the area was being built, while other issues went unaddressed.
“It’s almost like within months of pulling out the [grapevines] there are homes there,” he said.
“How’s it going to cope with it all?
“It’s not funny anymore, it’s gotten beyond a joke.”
It is not the only part of Adelaide’s north experiencing a housing and population boom.
The City of Playford’s total population is expected to grow by 36 per cent over the next 15 years — from 97,000 to approximately 132,000.
Much of that increase is projected to take place in Angle Vale, Munno Para West, Virginia, and Buckland Park.
Similar problems around Australia
Peter Colacino from Infrastructure Australia said communities and governments around the country were grappling with how to manage rapid outer suburban growth.
“What we’re seeing generally in Australia, in suburban areas, particularly brownfield suburban developments like we’re talking about in the context of some of Adelaide’s northern suburbs, is that [the development] doesn’t necessarily have the right sequencing of investment,” he said.
“[That is] in those economic infrastructure classes, but also in things like schools and hospitals.
“Certainly, there are councils in Western Australia that are buying back newly-built houses to turn them into public space.”
Mr Colacino said governments needed to find a balance between delivering basic infrastructure to keep areas functioning, while not overcommitting to delivering all kinds of public amenities for all areas.
“There are some types of infrastructure that are obviously critical … roads are critical, and footpaths … to ensure people can move around safety,” he said.
“Drainage and those components are also of course incredibly important.
“[But] what we have is often a trade-off between affordability of housing and the cost of providing infrastructure.
“We need to ensure we obviously have basic infrastructure provided, but also that there are options for people around housing affordability and prices, so that there are places that they can buy into that might have lower-cost requirements.”
Council working on upgrades, negotiating ‘land swap’ for main thoroughfare
Playford councillor Clint Marsh, agreed with his sister Kylee Rana about the need for upgrade said he wanted an urgent fix for Curtis Road — and a full duplication of the single-lane thoroughfare.
“The time has come,” he said in one of many videos posted to his Facebook page, describing what he said were major safety and congestion issues.
“Greater planning is required for the growth areas within the City of Playford,” he said.
The council’s mayor, Glenn Docherty, said the council was currently in a “land swap” negotiation with the Department for Infrastructure and Transport.
“The development, or improvement, of that road is just beyond council’s financial capacity,” he said.
The cost of such an upgrade would be in the many millions of dollars.
Infrastructure Minister Corey Wingard said those negotiations were underway — but said the state government was looking at other projects to improve parts of the road.
“We’re focusing on a roundabout there [at the Curtis Road-Heaslip Road intersection] and there’s talk about a land swap and that’s being discussed through the department,” he said.
“Looking at a deal, with any sort of deal, you want to make sure it’s a good deal for both parties.”
As for other infrastructure like footpaths and storm water drains, mayor Glenn Docherty said a “lag” was to be expected following such rapid growth and previous “haphazard” planning.
He said money set aside for infrastructure upgrades — including the roundabout being planned by the state government — was tied up in “growth deeds” between the government, council, and developers.
Lessons for future developments
Mr Docherty said he hoped to see changes to deed arrangements in the future, to ensure money for infrastructure upgrades was available straight away, rather than at certain “trigger points” in a development.
“Going forward, if there are multiple land developers and multiple large-scale zoning and uplift in an area, then some of the infrastructure trigger points for dollars from owners need to come upfront from the selling of farmland or other land, so that money is there straight away,” he said.
Corey Wingard said the state government was always “looking at ways to do things better”.
“We’re dealing with a lot of these deeds that were put in place before we were in government,” he said.
“But all of these things we’d always have a look at.”
As governments wait for more money to become available, residents are losing patience.
“We have had the conversation going, you know, do we look at moving out further [away from Angle Vale],” Kylee Rana said.
“But I think we’re going to be facing the same thing again in 10 years’ time.”