Twenty years ago the prospect of Mt Barker welcoming five storey buildings into its town centre seemed a million miles away.
Now, as the once small country town creeps its way to becoming the second largest city in SA, a five storey future is plausible and, with the recent approval of the Mt Barker Council’s town centre zoning overhaul, it’s almost guaranteed.
The council’s Regional Town Centre Development Plan Amendment (DPA) allows for high density developments up to five storeys in parts of Mt Barker’s town centre.
This means high rise buildings will be allowed to be constructed in parts of the town centre including the vacant Woolworths-owned site on Druids Avenue and also on a strip of land between the Mt Barker Creek and railway line – basically on the land occupied by the bus terminal and Park n Ride facility.
This new mixed use zone allows for both residential and commercial developments to increase vibrancy and boost living and business opportunities.
The change to the zoning of the Woolworths-owned land – the site mooted for a European-style town square – is good news for many Hills residents who wanted a possible development to incorporate high rise apartments, a hotel, library and art gallery.
The council has acknowledged the changing face of Mt Barker, the growing need for greater housing diversity and the need for a more vibrant town centre.
As little as 15 years ago Adelaide was often dead after 5pm, but with an influx of inner city living developments, the city has an upbeat feel and the residents have fuelled a business revival to service their needs.
There will be growing pains with this prospective concrete jungle for Mt Barker and council staff face a difficult task to mould an historic town into a modern, 21st Century city.
The town centre rezoning provides a promising preview of what Mt Barker is about to become.
Heritage sensitive parts of the town centre have been honored with height limit restrictions in Gawler Street (up to two storeys) and the northern part of Cameron Road (two-three storeys).
These changes to Mt Barker will allow for a rejuvenation of activity in the town, greater prospects for young or first home-buyers, tourism and business potential.