Why did you engage the community?
TONSLEY is a revitalisation of the former Mitsubishi Motors manufacturing and assembly site in Adelaide’s southern suburbs. This redevelopment co-locates industry, training, research, the community and academia in the one place — creating an integrated industrial, educational and residential community on the former 61 hectare industrial site.
Tonsley is a platform for the State’s economic growth, attracting companies with high-value manufacturing capabilities and services that can respond to the needs of our growth sectors, such as: mining and resources; clean technologies and renewable energy; and health, medical devices and assistive technologies.
Engagement with key stakeholders was undertaken at the earliest possible opportunity in the project. This was to assist and support the planning process to gain the best planning outcome and to prepare the local community for the subsequent development activities.
What was new or different about this engagement?
What became clear through the engagement was the deep connection the community has with the site, particularly by the former employees of Mitsubishi/Chrysler, their families, and the local residents, expressing their strong wish for the site’s manufacturing history to be reflected in the future development.
As a result, the master plan recognised the social history of the Tonsley site celebrating the role of automotive manufacturing in South Australia’s industrial heritage. A Cultural History Study was developed to further explore and document key aspects of the site’s history and then identify ways to integrate it into the development.
The engagement has ensured that the community is better informed with regard to the master plan and has a sense of involvement in the future plans for the site. There is local excitement that the site is being developed to provide training, employment, retail and recreational opportunities and this generated early momentum and goodwill for the project in the community.
What went particularly well?
A series of design forums, with specific industry groups, key stakeholders and broader community representatives was later added to the engagement process to further refine the master plan. These design forums added a crucial level of detail to the engagement process.
Holding community open days on the actual development site to display draft plans and provide the opportunity for community members to meet and discuss the concepts with the design team was important. The main Open Day attracted over 700 people, also enabling former employees to re-connect with the site and to share their stories.
Other engagement avenues included specific briefings conducted with local government and local industry groups and establishing a reference group of key stakeholders early in the planning process.
What did you learn?
Displaying the final master plan through on-site staffed displays rather than unstaffed displays at various venues may have gained more feedback.
Engaging early provided a valuable and rich insight into the history of the site and the connection that the local community has to it, which strongly influenced the planning outcomes, while establishing trust with the local community and setting the foundation for future engagement.
Were there any unexpected outcomes?
For the cynics who saw TAFE and Flinders Uni as unlikely cooperative neighbours, their perception was swiftly dispelled.
TAFE and Flinders were proactive partners in showcasing Tonsley’s educational and research potential during the early engagement phase and exploring and forging partnerships in areas of research and development.