Tag listing: Woodside

Inverbrackie reborn

In just a few years the Hills hamlet of Inverbrackie would be unrecognisable from its former role as a detention centre for refugees if a development company’s plans get the green light.
The site is set to become a new satellite suburb of Woodside and is expected to draw almost 400 new residents to the area.
With some of the 80 homes already being given substantial makeovers under a $6m project before hitting the market as rentals, the rest of the township is set to follow suit.
If it can get the necessary rezoning, subdivision and development approvals, its owner Mill Hill Capital has big plans for Inverbrackie, which is being rebadged as Crest @ Woodside.
Up to $14m would be spent on building new homes on vacant lots within the site and upgrading public infrastructure such as wetlands, parks and walking trails.
And a further $7m has been earmarked to establish a much-needed tourist park that the owners hope will entice more visitors to stay and explore the region longer.
When Inverbrackie closed, there were real concerns within the community about its future.
Now that future looks bright, with the potential to deliver a real economic boost to the local area.

Keep left

If there is a drawback to living in this beautiful region, it probably is having to use the freeway at peak times.
Driver behavior on the region’s busiest route is a constant bugbear, so it was encouraging to see SA Police targeting one of those common frustrations last week – the failure by some motorists to keep left unless overtaking.
On such a busy road it’s all too common to get stuck behind a slower travelling vehicle in the right-hand lane.
That inconsiderate driving often frustrates other motorists who make rash and dangerous manoeuvres such as tail-gating and overtaking on the inside lane.
After delivering both cautions and fines last Thursday, police are warning that the keep left rule is one they will be watching for some time to come.
It would seem that drivers could benefit from being reminded about basic road rules and courtesy on this route and perhaps new electronic signs could be used to send some timely educational messages.

Bird in Hand mine

With plans to reopen Woodside’s old Bird in Hand gold mine edging closer, now is the time for the community to explore whether a local mine is the best thing for the Hills.
Depositing a mine in the middle of a clean, green agricultural and tourism region – which could one day be World Heritage listed – certainly carries its share of risk.
While any impact on tourism or the reputation of the area is likely only to reach the businesses and producers in the immediate vicinity, miscalculation or mismanagement involving groundwater could be devastating to a far wider area.
The Hills is home to world-class wineries and the region has forged a reputation as a pristine food bowl and renowned cool climate wine area.
Mining company Terramin Australia has a sketchy history when it comes to managing groundwater, with miscalculations causing havoc at its mine in Strathalbyn.
There’s a lot more water to manage at Woodside and if Terramin gets it wrong a second time, many valuable Hills assets  could be jeopardised.
However, the mine is a double edged sword with its construction set to create 140 extra jobs in the region over the next few years.
And the royalties from a $400m gold deposit will no doubt be attractive to a cash-strapped State Government.
Terramin general manager and chief technical officer Joe Ranford said the company had learned from its mistakes and was committed to preserving ground water and working with the community to create acceptance for the project.
The mining company is moving towards community consultation and those with a vested interest should take notice.
It’s important that residents weigh up the risks and benefits of the mine while they have the chance.
Terramin has poured resources into exploring and planning the concept and if the community is concerned, the issues they raise should be based on well-educated arguments rather than emotional pleas.
With so much at risk – but also things to gain – now is the time for Hills residents to engage in intelligent debate and for the mining company and Government to listen.
The final decision could have significant ramifications for the future of the region.

Inverbrackie sale

The sale and future development of the former Inverbrackie Detention Centre will undoubtedly bring many benefits to Woodside.
Attracting residents to the 81 vacant houses will certainly boost local businesses and potentially draw more people to the Hills.
It will be a welcome injection of funds into the local economy.
There’s no doubt that the developers, Mill Hill Capital, have an aesthetic, country-style estate in mind for the site, with plans to update the homes, build affordable tourist accommodation, attract value-adding primary production businesses and co-ordinate landscaping in communal areas.
But only time will tell whether the site becomes that thriving hub for families, tourists and local industry or whether it becomes a transient and somewhat disconnected community.
The directors of Mill Hill Capital have described the target market of the housing in the estate as families and young people moving into the area who may want to rent in the district before making a more permanent move.
But while the plan may fill a need for short-term accommodation in the Hills, the sale of individual housing lots is likely to be the best long-term solution for both the site and the wider community.
The land’s current rural zoning hinders the site from being subdivided, but that is a concept that the developers have not ruled out.
The Adelaide Hills Council is understandably reluctant to support the idea of Torrens Title allotments at the site, as this would transfer responsibility of the roads and other infrastructure to the council.
However, the sale of the land as community titled allotments could be just the thing the 22ha site needs to bring life to the vision cast by its new owners.
With the newly landscaped communal areas maintained by a body corporate, such a scheme may attract more permanent residents, who are eager to invest in their homes and thereby create a more thriving community.
The site with ready-made infrastructure certainly oozes opportunity, but if the new owners want to breathe life back into the ghost town, they’ll need to attract the right kind of people to form a healthy community.

Inverbrackie sale

The sale of the 80 houses at the former detention centre site at Inverbrackie is extremely welcome news.
The likely injection of 80 new families into the Woodside economy will bring widespread benefits to the town and wider region.
The impending sale will finally make good use of a taxpayer funded resource which, before it was used to house asylum seekers in late 2010, had remained empty for years following a decision by the Defence Department to house its personnel in the wider community.
The houses, mostly built in the 1980s, are of good quality and, although small by today’s standards, have recently been upgraded to the tune of $10m ($125,000 per home) and are located in pleasant surroundings.
They should be attractive to home buyers when they come onto the open market.
The purchase of 80 houses in a single lot makes them only available to a large investor and the future of the site is completely in their hands.
Mayo MP Jamie Briggs believes they would be suitable for development into an aged-care facility while the Mayor of the Adelaide Hills Council, Bill Spragg, would prefer they be occupied by a mix of family types and age groups.
Both are adamant the houses need to be occupied.
Both are correct.
Mr Spragg has indicated the property will need to be rezoned before any re-sale of houses can take place by the new owner.
The property was a farm when acquired by the Federal Government. The subsequent development – the Commonwealth does not have to abide by State or council planning regulations – has significantly changed its land use from Primary Production meaning it will need a more appropriate classification.
Mr Spragg believes the State Government is unlikely to allow the creation of any new titles in the watershed zone.
Whatever the nuances of the planning regulations, the State must surely recognise it is not allowing any ‘new’ houses to be built by granting new titles. They are already there.
The smooth transition of these houses onto the open market is imperative and for it to be caught up in red tape would make everyone a loser.

Inverbrackie future

The news that the Federal Government will shut down the Inverbrackie detention facility at the end of the year is no surprise.
The closure was flagged by Tony Abbott’s Coalition even before the election began in earnest.
Whether the closure is the best option for Australia’s asylum seekers is a separate issue.
For the Hills the question remains – what will happen to the 80 former army houses, the ancillary buildings and the small community centre?
There’s no doubt a ridiculous amount of money has been spent fixing up and running the facility.
More than $11m was spent in capital costs establishing the centre which included extensive renovations to many of the homes which had been left empty by defence housing for some time.
Local Federal MP Jamie Briggs estimated nearly $100m has been spent on running Inverbrackie since the gates first opened in late 2010.
It would be an injustice on top of injustice if that money was wasted and the place left to decay once again.
Leaving them empty would also not be in keeping with the current Government’s austerity mode.
The houses are basic and not up to current accommodation standards for Australian Defence Force personnel.
They were built in the early 1980s and also fall short of public housing and aged housing standards.
However, they would make great low cost housing.
When Inverbrackie was set up the community witnessed first hand how quickly a Government can make something happen if it really wants to.
Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard made an announcement in October 2010 and the place opened in late December.
It is unlikely that a decision on the future of the Inverbrackie estate will be made with as much haste.
Perhaps the best option to avoid all the bureaucratic hurdles of setting up another public facility would be to sell the houses off as low cost housing – as soon as possible.
That way the place won’t stay empty for long and the local traders, the schools, the sporting clubs and the Adelaide Hills Council can enjoy the benefits of another 80 families living in the area.
An improved local public transport system would almost certainly need to be developed but that is a minor hurdle.
The community may find selling the houses will have a far more positive  impact on the economy and dynamics of the district than the detention facility ever did.

Killer blow

Isobel Redmond’s gaffe last week, during which she outlined her desire to cut 25,000 SA public servants, could be the killer blow to her tenure as Liberal leader.
The subsequent claim several hours later that she “answered some questions incorrectly” has done little to stop the bleeding to her reputation or the damage to the Party. The timing for Ms Redmond could not have been worse.
Already under pressure from within her own Party to take a more robust fight to the Government, Ms Redmond has now alienated herself from potentially thousands of voters by declaring, albeit mistakenly, that she would consider slashing one in four public service jobs.
Before last week’s gaffe her problem was largely contained within her own Party.
But that bushfire has clearly jumped those containment lines and it now has the potential to race through the wider community. And the Labor Party will be on hand to fan the flames.
All this mess is of her own making. It will increase the pressure on Ms Redmond’s colleagues to act and it is difficult to see any amount of apologising and self- admonishment holding off the inevitable.

Traders left out

The Woodside Commerce Association didn’t share anything new with the Adelaide Hills Council last week when its president told elected members that the promised economic benefits from the Inverbrackie detention facility hadn’t been noticed locally.
Woodside traders are well aware that they are on the back foot when it comes to securing Federal Government business and have been talking about it among themselves for some time.
It would be annoying to know that you’re missing out, but you have the Government waving an economic study your face and saying “look how well you’re doing”.
In the end the definition of benefit comes down to what is “local” and whether it matters if the money goes to businesses elsewhere in the Hills or Adelaide.
When the study by independent university researchers came out earlier this year it found the Inverbrackie facility had injected $38m into the Hills economy and most of the direct economic impact was attributed to the salaries paid to employees.
That’s a lot of money but staff come and go and you can’t always guarantee that a significant percentage will be Hills residents.
Given the Woodside supermarket is no longer supplying groceries to the facility, it would be interesting to know just how much of the millions spent at Inverbrackie each year is flowing to the immediate neighborhood.

Kris knows her craft

Award-winning Hills cheese maker Kris Lloyd had to learn her craft by trial and error over more than a decade.

Minister puts brakes on Woodside road repairs

Federal Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has refused to fund half of a proposed $500,000 upgrade of a road near the Inverbrackie detention facility and has effectively scuttled the project.

Broken promise

When the Federal Government informed the Hills community in 2010 that the old Inverbrackie army base housing estate was going to be converted into detention facility, there were plenty of angry voices at public meetings forecasting all kinds of negative impacts on the community.

Henry’s hard at work

Henry has become a well-known face in the Hills. He’s often seen at the post office in Woodside, strolling down the main street of Lobethal or at the supermarkets in Mt Barker.