Mt Barker is identified by The 30-Year Plan for Greater Adelaide as the fastest growing regional centre in South Australia. The South Australian State Government introduced Mount Barker Urban Growth Development Plan Amendment (DPA) on December 2010 and targeted a growth of 7,000 dwellings for 26,000 people with 1,265 hectares at Mt Barker over 30 years.
The proposal reduces the urban growth boundary by less than 50% of the DPA proposed. It calls for the development of a more concentrated neighbourhood for people to live in whilst retaining the rural-living characteristics of this town. The overall plan proposed for walkable neighbourhood centres and local centres (400-450 metres) which provides essential services for daily living.
A prototype of mixed-used neighbourhood centre is developed with this idea. It consists of medium density residential, retail/commercial as well as recreational/sports facilities, with low density residential areas surrounding the denser neighbourhood centre. Within the centre there are a spectrum of housing typology including a conceptual SOHO (Small Office Home Office) suites to cater for the fast growing home-based business; further away from the centre the low density housing consists of a variety of lot sizes to suit different household sizes and needs. All developments are limited to maximum 4-storey height to retain the rural-living characteristics of Mt Barker.
The focal point of this neighbourhood centre is the square with timber decks and urban lawn providing spaces for people to rest and play. Immediate opposite of this square is a large open space which can be used for outdoor dining/cafe and as festival space or specialty market space. A designated shared zone with speed limit measures is incorporated in these high pedestrian-use areas to ensure its safety and vitality. Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) elements such as bioretention swales, rain gardens and bioretention tree pits are incorporated alone the streets to treat stormwater.