Population policy: Prosperity through People
The State Government adopted and distributed a Population Policy for the State, 'Prosperity through People', in March 2004. This advocates a population increase for the State to an optimum population of two million by the year 2050. The City of Playford has embraced the Population Policy for South Australia as an opportunity to consider the future growth scenarios for the Council area as a first step in articulating a strategic vision about the City's population growth. This will enable Council to position community growth in a strategic context to ensure it can facilitate appropriate development and prosper without detriment to the existing environment, community and its values.
The work undertaken to date seeks to ensure Council has a decisive approach to its community using an interventionist approach to ensure a vibrant and self sustaining population with the necessary skills and community spirit to meet the future challenges of the region.
As one of the largest Councils (in area) of Adelaide, Playford is characterised by significant areas of undeveloped rural land, intensive horticultural activities, and urban development centred around a regional centre, district centre, and three townships. It currently has an increasing population (68,650 persons census 2001) that is growing at twice the rate of both the Adelaide Statistical Division (ASD) and South Australia as a whole (ten per cent increase versus five per cent), and this trend is continuing.
The City of Playford has been analysing its population characteristics and rate of growth for some time to establish a more strategic focus in respect to the delivery of its community, corporate and infrastructure services and planning for financial sustainability in the future. This has incorporated independent population analysis to establish 'on the ground' projections as the demand for land and housing occurs.
Different growth scenarios impact on the future financial planning for Council, ranging from a limited growth to 90,000 persons over a 50 year period, to a high growth scenario trebling the population over this period.
Initial community consultation has identified a community desire to double the population to 130,000 residents to maintain a sustainable level of service delivery.
Road and footpath maintenance
The changes in some of Playford's major infrastructure assets since amalgamation are illustrated in the table below.
Much of the sealed roads and footpaths were constructed over a concentrated timeframe in the late 1950s as part of the Elizabeth satellite city initiative. As such they had either exceeded their design life or were about to do so.
The significant footpath asset consisting of concrete slab paths had exceeded its safe and useful service life during the 1990s. Budget allocations were influenced by a response based maintenance approach.
The sealed road network was maintained via a condition based reseal program supported by heavy patching when required. This approach doubled the original design life of this asset (currently 46 years old) but is now showing severe signs of stress.
In 1999, a Road Pavement Asset Management plan was introduced. The initial data suggested that a road reseal program required $450,000 in the first year rising to $650,000 in 2003/2004. A 15 year Rural Road Construction program was introduced at $650,000 per annum to respond to the rapidly growing Virginia horticultural industry. The financial spin off from this program was that each road that was sealed reduced the significant maintenance costs for ten to15 years.
A sophisticated Footpath Asset Management plan commenced in 2001/02. Initial data suggested that full lifecycle renewal funding required between $1.5 and $2 million per annum. Various options were explored including a 12 month trial on removing the footpaths from one side of the street in some locations to reduce the size of the overall footpath asset. After much work with the paving industry in reducing unit costs, it was concluded that an annual expenditure of $1.2 million for this $45 million asset would ensure its continued service life for the next 50 years at least.
Further refinement of the Road Pavement Asset Management system during 2004 concluded that this $140 million asset required an annual expenditure of $4 million per year to maintain an acceptable level of service. This expenditure is being introduced into the budgetary process over five years commencing at $2.2 million per annum in 2005/06.
Playford's experience in asset management has shown that previous asset plans were based on timeframes that were too short, that is, approximately ten years. It requires a longer period such as 50 years (two lifecycles of road pavements and footpaths) to gain meaningful data on asset maintenance and renewal costs.
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