Have your say on heritage guidelines for Adelaide’s Colonel Light Gardens

Plans are underway to update the guidelines for this heritage-listed suburb. Learn more, plus how to have a say.

Nestled in the southern corner of suburban Adelaide, Colonel Light Gardens is a time capsule of the 1920s.

It might not be surprising that the suburb named after the man who designed Adelaide, Colonel William Light, is one of 17 State Heritage Areas in South Australia and the only heritage-listed suburb.

At the moment there’s an overhaul underway of the South Australian planning system, which includes the introduction of a new development and infrastructure Act and a single ‘rule’ book that will replace the 68 development plans across the state. 

Following on from these reforms, Heritage SA is reviewing and updating the existing heritage guidelines for Colonel Light Gardens, to continue to protect this garden suburb’s significant heritage.

Here’s everything you need to know, including how you can have a say:

About the suburb

Although Colonel Light Gardens was named after Colonel Light, the man himself wasn’t responsible for designing it.

The suburb wasn’t designed until the early 1900s by New Zealand journalist turned SA’s Government Town Planner – the first in Australia – Charles Reade, who was a leading advocate of what is known as ‘garden city design’.

This essentially means a mix of wide tree-lined avenues, large housing blocks, gardens and recreational places for the community.

Hardly groundbreaking in 2021 you might think, however 100 years ago many residential areas had been allowed to develop haphazardly, without any overarching plan, so what Reade was proposing was a significant departure from the status quo.

Like all best laid plans, Reade’s designs underwent changes along the way, largely due to them intersecting with the then government’s 1920s mass-housing project known as the Thousand Homes Scheme for returned World War I soldiers.

The scheme’s legacy is that Colonel Light Gardens was built within 10 years of its design, so almost all buildings are of the same period.

Remarkably, most houses and other buildings are still in good condition and retain their heritage values.

Why does the heritage of Colonel Light Gardens matter?

Today Colonel Light Gardens holds the honour of being recognized as Australia's most complete example of an early 1920s garden suburb.

It’s part of our history, it’s part of who we are as a city and as a state and it’s a big part of what makes Adelaide unique and special. And that matters.

Why are the heritage guidelines for Colonel Light Gardens being updated?

Heritage SA is reviewing and updating the existing heritage guidelines for the suburb in response to the current SA planning reforms.

Heritage Guidelines affect how development is undertaken in Colonel Light Gardens, ensuring that it’s appropriate and in line with the heritage values of the area.

Updates to the guidelines include:

  • revised guidance policy relating to materials, fencing and services such as solar panels, reflecting current practices
  • a detailed description of the heritage features of the garden suburb, as a basis for design guideline advice
  • sections describing the ‘heritage characteristics’ of Colonel Light Gardens, to provide clarity around the important heritage elements of the suburb, in line with other new heritage related code sections
  • new sections on the management of the heritage values of public spaces and reserves within the garden suburb.

Colonel Light Gardens is the first State Heritage Area to have its heritage guidelines updated under the new planning reforms.

Consultation on the draft updated heritage guidelines for the other State Heritage Areas identified under the Heritage Places Act, such as Hahndorf, Burra, and Petticoat Lane in Penola, will occur in a staged manner in the future.

Want to have a say?

Members of the public are invited to comment on the draft updated Heritage Guidelines (Colonel Light Gardens State Heritage Area).

All you need to do is visit the YourSAy website, where you can find additional information about the updated heritage guidelines, join the online discussion, complete the survey or make an appointment to speak with a Heritage SA staff member.

The consultation closes on 1 February.

Learn more about South Australia’s heritage sites by visiting the Heritage SA website or checking out some of our stories: 7 heritage places in SA you might not know about and South Australia’s most iconic heritage place captured in photos.

Like what you just read? There’s plenty more where this came from. Make sure you don’t miss a post by subscribing to Good Living’s weekly e-news.