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March 21, 2023

The Lord Mayor wants to maintain parks and recreation

Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith is sounding a warning: if the State Government continuously pockets Adelaide Park Lands for projects it will come at a cost.

  • Words and pictures: Angela Skujins
  • Above: Adelaide Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith

Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith is a known defender of the Adelaide Park Lands, which she’s demonstrated in recent stoushes with the State Government over the Adelaide Aquatic Centre and SAPOL barracks moves.

Curious as to how far this passion for the green belt extends, CityMag asks whether she would ever go so far as to pull a Lidia Thorpe at Mardi Gras and lay in front of bulldozers to protest the continual chipping away at the 760 hectares of protected public space.

“I’m not the sort of person that lies down on the road,” Jane rebukes. “I don’t like to lie on the ground. It’s not effective, generally.”

They have to recognise this is a finite resource
—Jane Lomax-Smith

We asked our semi-serious question while sitting at a coffee table across from the Lord Mayor inside her prim Town Hall office. It’s Tuesday, 7 March, and well before the South Australian Police announced it had earmarked eight hectares of the city’s southern park lands for the relocation of its mounted operations unit.

The reason we’ve met is to speak about the new Adelaide Aquatic Centre, which naturally led to a conversation about protection of the Park Lands – also a pinch point in the conversation regarding SAPOL’s impending move.

Roughly 10 heritage-listed buildings at the century-old Thebarton police barracks will be razed to make way for the $3 billion new Women’s and Children’s Hospital, so the police’s dogs, greys (the horses seen trotting down Hindley Street on Saturday nights wearing high-vis vests) and museum need a new home.

The mooted site for the police’s new mounted operations is Mirnu Wirra Park 21 West, on the corner of Greenhill Road and Sir Lewis Cohen Avenue.


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According to The Advertiser, which broke news of the selected site, this part of the Adelaide Park Lands is “disused”. But the Adelaide Park Lands Association, a grassroots environmental activism group, lists many significant physical elements of the grassy, gum-tree-filled public space, including a garden, playground, a Bush for Life revegetated area, and more. Last week, Jane publicly condemned the “massive building and fencing project”.

“We support SAPOL and love horses, but stabling, offices, equipment stores and high fences are not a suitable use for irreplaceable, diminishing Nationally Heritage-listed park lands,” she said.

“Mysteriously every assessment from this government seems to find the best building sites are always in the Adelaide Park Lands.”

Following this, Adelaide city councillors joined forces at a council meeting on 14 March to unanimously rally against the new location and ask for a different temporary site to agist the horses.


Kaurna elder Frank Wanganeen (below) spoke to CityMag about the history of postcode 5000’s Park Lands.
Read the article
The piece featured in our 2021 Park Lands Edition.

Prior to these events, when discussing with CityMag the State Government’s Adelaide Aquatic Centre’s move on Pardipardinyilla Denise Norton Park, Jane promises no net loss of Park Lands.

Councillors previously supported strengthening their opposition to an Aquatic Centre code amendment, which would have allowed the expansion of the soon-to-be-built $80 million swimming facility’s carpark and overall footprint. The council has made a submission to the government which aims to bolster Park Lands protections against this.

“The government has committed in an election promise to build a new swimming pool and, in all fairness, the council has to be grateful because they’re putting a lot of money into this project,” Jane says.

“And the Labor Government has made an absolute commitment [to] like-for-like, no bigger footprint, no more car parking, and that commitment can be delivered within the current planning rules.

“We have submitted that the request to change the code is unnecessary because the government can actually deliver their election commitment within current planning laws.”

In the letter, sent to the Planning Department and seen by CityMag, Jane writes that the City of Adelaide was “surprised and disappointed” to see the touted amendment.

“[The] council is committed to minimising the footprint of buildings, carparking and restricting the expansion of shops and other land uses in the Park Lands where they do not support the communities (sic) use and enjoyment of the Park Lands,” the letter states.

The letter also says the council offers in-principal support for a new Aquatic Centre, subject to “no net loss” of park lands; “further consideration of location”; “same or smaller building footprint”; “[minimising the] impact on residents”; and a committing to “continue working on the broader master planning area”.

The Adelaide Park Lands. This picture: Andre Castellucci


If the State Government proceeds with the code amendment anyway, the council has endorsed the advice put forward by Kadaltilla / Park Lands Authority to relocate the subzone “away from residential properties” on Barton Terrace, as well as improve policy areas to address “key issues including built form setbacks” from residential areas.

Last month, area councillor Janet Giles spearheaded a motion, supported by almost all elected members, requesting a new site for the swim centre, well away from residents on Barton Terrace.

According to Jane, the Adelaide Park Lands have already been infringed upon more than is necessary: “Enough is enough,” she says.

“Botanic High is having its foundations laid — if it’s not laid already,” Jane says, referencing the school’s expansion onto Adelaide Park Lands. “[Plus] the Women’s and Children’s Hospital legislation.

“But I think we have to stop. If we don’t stop, we’ll have nothing left.

“We have to have a clear message going to [the] government, that the time has come to stop.

“They have to recognise this is a finite resource.”

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