“Sod the wine, I want to suck on the writing. This man White is an instinctive writer, bloody rare to find one who actually pulls it off, as in still gets a meaning across with concision. Sharp arbitrage of speed and risk, closest thing I can think of to Cicero’s ‘motus continuum animi.’

Probably takes a drink or two to connect like that: he literally paints his senses on the page.”

DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little, Ludmila’s Broken English, Lights Out In Wonderland ... Winner: Booker prize; Whitbread prize; Bollinger Wodehouse Everyman prize; James Joyce Award from the Literary & Historical Society of University College Dublin)





22 June 2011



Environment Resources Development??? Last Diplomatic Card Dealt ??? Patience Running Out??? You Betcha!!!

In about nine hours the Environment, Resources and Development Committee, made up of selected parliamentarians, meets to rubber stamp the stupid Seaford Heights housing development in some of the best vineyard or agricultural country in Australia. I managed to gain approval to have this document filed at the last minute.

Mr. Phil Frensham,
Executive Officer,
Environment, Resources and Development Committee,
Parliament House,
North Terrace,
Adelaide 5000.

Tuesday 21 June 2011


Dear Phil and committee members,

understanding some of the principles your committee must stick to, I appreciate that it seems unusual that a citizen might attempt to place information before it this late in the piece.

However, given that most of the residents of the Willunga Embayment, including the McLaren Vale Grape Wine and Tourism Association, had barely 48 hours to engage in any consultancy relative to the Seaford Heights development, I feel that there are several urgent matters which need to be on the record.

These are vital instances of difference between the proposed Seaford Heights development as it now seems to stand and the government’s 30 Year Plan.

I quote items from the 30 year Plan:

Pg 3

This Plan will “Focus on creating mixed use precincts that bring together housing, jobs, transport, services, recreation & leisure”.

The current Seaford Heights plan, as approved, fails to fulfill this promise.

Pg 4
“Develop suburbs and neighbourhoods which are connected and represent world’s best practice in sustainability and urban design.”

There is no indicator that the Seaford Height plan, as approved, will fulfil this promise.

Pg 11
“The urban form needs to be more compact to avoid sprawl and the unnecessary expansion of residential and commercial activity into lands of environmental significance or lands that are vital for primary production.”

As the Seaford heights site is of exemplary farmland importance (it is famous for regularly growing barley with the highest sugar yield of any site in South Australia); and represents the region’s last chance to place vineyard on a small piece of priceless and rare geology which we know is capable of producing some of the best and most profitable Australian wine, there is absolutely no evidence that this suggestion has been heard or understood by anybody in the planning process thus far.

Pg 13

Further Principles of the plan:

“5) World class design and vibrancy”

The Seaford Heights proposal, as approved, is not of this standard.

“7) Heritage and character protection and enhancement”

The Seaford Heights proposal, as approved, destroys this site’s internationally-significant heritage and character.

“10) Economic growth and competiveness
12) Environmental protection, restoration and enhancement 13) Natural resource management”

The proposal totally ignores these aspects of the site’s unique agricultural potential.

“14) Community engagement”

There has been virtually NO wide community engagement other than a rushed amalgam of opinions from McLaren Vale Grape Wine and Tourism, the Onkaparinga Council, and perhaps a few community activists. Any resident of the Willunga Basin other than these people knew little of the development until it was approved.

Since then the plan has been changed significantly.

Forgive me if my limited legal capacity has this wrong, but I am of the understanding that there must be a new round of community consultation every time the development plan is significantly changed. I ask whether in fact this is the case, and if so, how many times was the original approved plan changed significantly without consultation?

Pg 29

“Greater Adelaide is a highly desirable place to live because it has an urban character typified by historic precincts and villages such as McLaren Vale”


“a central position in the nation’s wine industry… SA contributes 46% of Australia’s total wine production and generates up to $3 billon in gross wine revenue”

Even ignoring the tourism economic multiplier, the Seaford Heights plan as approved ridicules these obvious facts.

Pg 40

Paraphrase: “Decisions about land use over a 30 year period cannot be made definitively at the beginning of the period”.

The Seaford heights decision was made even before the beginning of this 30 year period, but there has been ample opportunity to reverse it or improve it.

Pg 56
“Chapter C – the vision for greater Adelaide: • maintaining and improving liveability increasing competitiveness • driving sustainability, environmental protection and resilience to climate change”

The Seaford Heights plan, as approved, ridicules these points.

Pg 59

Principle 13 includes avoiding irreversible damage. Building on some of the oldest and best agricultural or grape growing land in Australia is irreversible.

Pg 62

Places emphasis on good design and creating unique precincts, which the approved plan completely fails to do.

Pg 106

“Policies 11) protection of strategic areas for horticulture, viticulture, dairying and grain production.”


There is one essential international example of what could be done on Seaford Heights.

In Champagne, France, there is a medieval walled village of 2-3 storeys called Mesnil.

The houses are outside the wall. Inside the wall is the Clos du Mesnil vineyard, which is owned by Champagne Krug. The Chardonnay fruit of this vineyard goes into one of the world’s most revered Champagnes, which sells for thousands of dollars per bottle.

So, instead of providing a buffer zone to hide the proposed housing from view, why can’t we design a three to four-story intensive residential development to be built on the currently approved buffer zones, and develop a world-class vineyard within the ring of houses, where the best and least polluted ground lies.

People would come from all over the world to visit such a place.

It seems the prohibiting presumption is that the proposed housing is to be so unsightly that it must be hidden from the public view.

Why can’t we have an urban-rural development of such creative beauty that people will actually desire to view it, live in it, visit it, and spend money in it?

Is this State of such intellectual decrepitude that we cannot envisage and build something which will draw the admiration, respect, and money of the world?

Can’t government manage to follow its own 30 Year Plan from the start?

It seems to many of us that this first chance at it is being squandered in the most stupid and unimaginative manner, and will always serve to undermine any good will remaining between government and those of us who are passionately keen to see South Australia retain such vitally important slices of country.

Thankyou for your consideration,

Philip White


Anonymous said...

When will these stuck up winemakers get it?
We need houses not vines!!

Anonymous said...

I'm gobsmacked there is only one comment here, and that comment seems to have totally missed the point. As Philip has written, the government has ignored the original plan in many aspects. Houses could be built here in a way that would cause minimal impact. What's the bet that they will be jammed together, cheek to jowl, with minimal quality of life for the residents. If they have to be hidden from the main road, it's a sorry state of affairs. Just because this area isn't Burnside, doesn't mean that substandard houses and conditions should be tolerated. Can't we have quality?

Anonymous said...

You got your houses Anonymous as the gutless board passed the development today.Hope you will be happy in the concrete jungle.

Anonymous said...

Methinks Anon No.1 could possibly be a developer or maybe its John Rau. In any event whoever it is they need a better education, so it could well be John Rau

Anonymous said...

Just for the record,I am a builder of houses, the more I build the more good wine I can buy!!!

GotYouPeggedSunshine said...

Keith Walker.