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National Listings

The Adelaide Park Lands and City Layout has received the nation’s highest heritage honour by being included on the National Heritage List. This was announced by the Australian Government Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, Peter Garrett, on 7 November 2008.

What is listed?

It is the overall layout of the City and surrounding Park Lands, the layout of the two city areas, separated by the River Torrens, the six town squares and the grid of major and minor roads, that are listed for their historic value to the nation. It is this listing that is protected under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

An old map of City of Adelaide

What is the National Heritage List?

The National Heritage List records places with outstanding heritage value to our nation. The places on the list are considered so special to all Australians that they are considered to have National Heritage Value. To be listed, the place must meet one or more of the statutory criteria.

Over 70 items from around Australia are currently on the National Heritage List, including the Sydney Opera House and Flemington Racecourse. Three other South Australian sites are included on the list. These are the Australian Fossil Mammal Sites (Naracoorte), the Ediacara Fossil Site (Wilpena) and the South Australian Old and New Parliament Houses.

Information on a place’s National Heritage Value is recorded in the list, and only these values are protected under the Australian Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and through management arrangements to conserve the heritage values of the place.

Why are the Adelaide Park Lands and City Layout so special?

The Statement of Significance prepared by the Australian Heritage Council indicates that the Adelaide Park Lands and City Layout satisfied 6 out of the 9 criteria for listing. The significance of the heritage place is protected though the values assessed against the criteria in the Act. The values identify what is important about the Adelaide Park Lands and City Layout as a National Heritage Place.

The values are summarised as follows:

Events and Processes – The Adelaide Park Lands and City Layout is the physical expression of the Plan designed and laid out by Colonel William Light which remains substantially intact.

The Plan is also of outstanding importance because it signifies a turning point in the settlement of Australia, settled by free settlers rather than convicts. The Adelaide Park Lands are also significant for the longevity of their protection and conservation, as well as being highly influential as a model for planning other towns in Australia and overseas.

Rarity – The Adelaide Park Lands and City Layout is rare as the most complete example of nineteenth-century colonial planning. The historical layout also remains clearly legible today. The place is also the only Australian city to be completely enclosed by park lands.

Principal characteristics of a class or place – The Adelaide Park Lands and City Layout is an exemplar of a nineteenth-century planned urban centre. The expression of key features reflects the early theories and ideas of the Garden City movement.

Creative or Technical Achievement – The Adelaide Park Lands and City Layout is regarded throughout Australia and the world as a masterwork of urban design. This is due to the encircling park lands and the way the design responds to the topography of the land. The siting and wide streets maximised views and vistas through the city and Park Lands and from some locations to the Adelaide Hills. The plan also features a hierarchy of road widths. The design was used as a model for founding many other towns in Australia and New Zealand.

Social Values - The Park Lands have outstanding social value to South Australians who consider them fundamental to the character and ambience of the city. The Park Lands play an important role as a venue for recreation areas, sports grounds, gardens and public facilities. The Adelaide Park Lands are also unique in terms of the long history of community groups dedicated to protecting them.

Significant People - Colonel William Light is famously associated with the plan of Adelaide for which he bore ultimate responsibility.

» View the Statement of Significance and Values Table

Nomination and Assessment Process

The City of Adelaide Layout and Park Lands was nominated to the National Heritage List in February 2005, in recognition of its design brilliance, and the pivotal role the plan played in colonisation of the State and maximising efficiency of investment. The plan was also considered outstanding in the way it accommodated topography, provided a ring of Park Lands, and a hierarchy of streets interspersed with regular Squares. The plan also remains remarkably intact to this day.

The assessment of the nomination was undertaken by the Australian Heritage Council during 2005-07.

In 2007, the Australian Heritage Council (AHC) advised the then Minister for the Environment and Heritage that they considered the Adelaide Park Lands and City Layout met six out on the nine of the National Heritage Criteria (with only one needed to satisfy the criteria for listing).

Each of these heritage values have also been assessed against a ‘significance threshold’. This test assists judging the level of significance of a place’s heritage value by asking ‘how important are these values?’ This is to ensure that the place must have ‘outstanding’ heritage value to the nation, and it must be important to the nation as a whole.

The then Minister then undertook a 12 month consultation with interested parties. City of Adelaide and the South Australian Government have been involved in the consultation with the Australian Government.

When was the decision made?

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage, Water and the Arts, the Hon Peter Garret AM MP announced the listing on 7 November 2008.

What are the implications of National Heritage Listing?

National Heritage Listing of the values means that a person or body cannot take an action that has, will have, or is likely to have, a significant impact on the National Heritage values of a National Heritage place without the approval of the Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Heritage. Therefore approval is required before undertaking any action that may have a significant impact on the national heritage values of the place. This mechanism assists in the conservation of our most important heritage places.

It is likely that only high level or significant actions will require referral under Commonwealth legislation.

» View the Statement of Significance and Values Table

» View the Adelaide Park Lands and City Layout brochure (664Kb)

For more information visit the Australian Government's National Heritage web site or phone City of Adelaide on (08) 8203 7203.

Adelaide Park Lands Images courtesy of Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.

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