The City of Norwood Payneham & St Peters’ legal bid to protect The Parade and George Street intersection from becoming an intersection more associated with a major arterial road – and to save regulated trees – has been dismissed by the Supreme Court, seriously impacting on the future quality and identity of Adelaide’s premier main street
The decision reached the Supreme Court after the Department for Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) – which had previously been working productively and collaboratively with the Council for four years on The Parade Masterplan and approved the Council’s proposal to install a ‘scramble crossing’ to protect pedestrians – chose to change its position (without justification) and support two private property owners, who wanted dedicated right hand lanes installed, without right turn green arrows, in addition to the ‘scramble crossing
In January 2017, the Council initiated the proposal for a ‘scramble crossing’, a key component of The Parade Masterplan. The Masterplan had, of course, been years in the making with significant input from the community, traders and DIT to determine its final form. The final document does not propose right-turn lanes at the intersection
The Council’s General Manager, Governance and Community Affairs, Lisa Mara, said the Supreme Court dismissal of the Council’s position was extremely disappointing.
“The Council went to court to fight for the Norwood community, the majority of The Parade traders and the wider community, to ensure that Adelaide’s premier main street is preserved as a street for people and does not become a main arterial road,” Ms Mara said.
“This legal decision leaves many questions unanswered about the process surrounding the change of position by DIT and the agreement entered into between DIT and two private property owners.”
Ms Mara said information in key documents, which are now public because they were related to the trial, should cause concern about what occurred behind the scenes – without any notice to, or involvement of, the Council, or indeed the community.
“We now know that about two weeks after former Minister Knoll approved the Council proposal for a 12-month trial of the scramble crossing, lobbying occurred for right hand turn lanes with an offer to pay for the ‘shortfall’ of any cost. That lobbying appears to have produced the result that we are now faced with,” Ms Mara said.
“We also know that shortly after that meeting, DIT staff were instructed to start working with the property owners on a new proposal and agreement which included significant changes to the existing intersection.
“We also know the Commissioner of Highways (DIT’s Chief Executive Officer) appointed another official to review the matter (as a result of the Council’s legal challenge). The official said he prepared his justification for his reasons in consultation with the same legal advisors acting for the Minister and the Commissioner in connection with the proceedings. This does not seem appropriate to the Council.
“The very serious question to be answered is why private property interests have been given preferential consideration, while the voices of 400 other Parade traders and property owners were not heard and the Council’s representation and submissions appear to have been ignored by DIT.”
Ms Mara said local residents and visitors to The Parade should be under no illusion as to the “devastating impact on the amenity on The Parade that will come from the introduction of right-hand turns”.
“The decision means that vehicles rather than pedestrians become the dominant feature of The Parade, going against everything that The Masterplan is aiming to achieve.
“At times, pedestrians are already waiting more than ninety seconds – which can seem like an eternity when you want cross the road. The introduction of another phase for the scramble crossing will mean even longer waiting times. In addition, turning right at this intersection will not significantly improved.”
The Council has lodged this current appeal to protect its interests while it awaits for Justice Parker to present his reasons for this dismissal of the case.
After working with the Department for Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) over a four-year period in good faith, the ‘scramble crossing’ was endorsed by DIT. Then, in June 2020, the Minister approved the installation of the ‘scramble crossing’ on the condition that right hand turns from The Parade into George Street would be prohibited during peak hours for westbound traffic during 7.30am – 9.00am and for eastbound traffic from 4.00pm – 6.00pm.
The Council has never advocated for the banning of right hand turns from The Parade onto George Street.
However, on the basis that the ‘scramble crossing’ could not be installed without this DIT condition being agreed to and on the basis that the bans on right hand turns would only be trialled for a 12-month period, the Council agreed to the condition.
However, for reasons unknown to the Council, in September 2020, DIT suddenly had a change in position and, unbeknown to the Council at the time and contrary to four years’ worth of work, chose to secretly negotiate with private property owners, who wanted dedicated right hand lanes installed and without any consultation.
Given the significant and permanent impact which these changes will have on this intersection, the Council strongly believed in its obligation to represent the views of the community and to pursue the matter in the Supreme Court.