On Thursday the state Government’s Development Assessment Commission (DAC) resolved that:
1) …that the proposed development is NOT seriously at variance with the relevant provisions of the Unley (City) Development Plan.
This gives the green light for an $80 million dollar development in The City of Unley. The existing buildings will be leveled, rubble removed, ground properly prepared with construction commencing mid to late 2016. This development radically changes the dynamic of Unley Road and signals the start of a shift in the way we will view ourselves, the City of Unley community.
During times of change you see the best and the worst in people and the same can be said for communities. When communities transition both the best and the worst aspects of culture manifest themselves. Unley is seeing the best and worst of our micro-culture being given voice. The worst of our culture has become apparent in the anti-Chinese commentary. This first manifested itself at a community meeting coordinated by David Pisoni MP and it can be seen in some of the AdelaideNow comments. Equally, the worst of our culture can be seen in the blind adoration for this project when that adoration refuses to accept and respect the difficulties that such a project will have on the local community. I take as much offence to my Unley residents being called NIMBYs as I do towards my own residents focusing on the ethnic origin of the developers and then drawing a link to “slums”.
The role of the media in this issue underlies how we view ourselves and anybody who cares about the Unley community could only but shake their heads in dismay over the way this is playing itself out in print. The best of our culture is seen in the voices of people who aim to find the “reason” in this situation. These balanced voices try to identify where the areas of community concern are coming from and then encourages those issues to be fleshed out and dealt with. The best of our culture is found in those people who look to the future and try to ensure that the people who will live in this development feel equal members of Unley. These new residents of the Cremorne Plaza will have an equal voice within Unley to the residents who live in established houses. Cremorne Plaza residents will no doubt complain about footpath sweeping, contribute ideas for during Council’s budget deliberations and run for Council. They will send their kids to the local schools, dine-out on King William Road and get fit by riding their bikes into the hills, just like you and I are doing right now.
Now I’m not comfortable with the DAC’s decision. I would disagree with its ruling. I think the development is at serious variance with the City of Unley’s Development Plan. However; I will not hurl barbed comments and insults at the developers, their financial backers nor create an environment of hostility towards future neighbours.
As NeighbourDay and Harmony Day have just passed, I ask us not to forget that each of us plays a key role in creating a harmonious community and society. This development has been granted approval and we must consider how best to turn this situation into a positive for everyone. It will require much work and thought but it can be done and Unley will be better for it.