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The Role of Adelaide City Council perimeter, except Union St • the Southgate (now Optus) building at King William St and South Terrace, approved in 1988, a 15-storey complex grossly out of scale with its surrounding two-storey neighbours. It was approved on the grounds that it would form a gateway to the city and that taller buildings would be permitted along King William St to Victoria Square. The Southgate was vacant for five years, and the anticipated large-scale redevelopment of King William St did not eventuate • partial demolition of the heritage-listed Working Women’s Creche in Gouger St in 1985, and then demolition of the remaining heritage-listed portion, approved in 1987 (see chapter 7) • the Le Cornu project, North Adelaide, for which ACC in 1991 approved demolition of buildings and their replacement by 14 shops, offices and residential buildings in Tynte and Archer Sts. The CAPC refused to concur with ACC’s approval on the basis that the proposal was contrary to principles 14, 15 and 18 of the Plan, which defined the maximum and bonus plot ratios and maximum dwelling density for the site, and that it was contrary to the DFC statement for the O’Connell St precinct.25 The project was subsequently redesigned to the satisfaction of the CAPC and ACC, but after the buildings were demolished the project failed to proceed due to lack of capital.
ACC reached many of its decisions in camera. The AHA and other groups concerned with planning in Adelaide objected regularly to ACC’s excessive use of secret meetings because the public could not comment on the proposals before ACC decided upon them. Peter Ward also vented his frustration in 1982: ‘Nothing is more infuriating to journalists, nor should be more infuriating to ratepayers, than this craven desire for secrecy and self-importance among councillors discussing public business’.26 Report of City Planner, ACC Notice Paper 8 July 1991, item 6.7, p.267.
Adelaide Review, June 1985, p.11.
Heritage Politics in Adelaide Appeals against ACC decisions Councillors often expressed concern that refusal of a planning application would result in a costly appeal to the Planning Appeals Tribunal even if the project did not conform to the principles of the Plan. Former Alderman Rann presented the position (not her own) of some members who were ‘mindful of avoiding a situation where the council would be caught in litigation which it couldn’t defend if a development were not approved’. Some members, she said, also held the view that ‘development is progress and is growth and is an income source in terms of the city’s rate base’.27 The concern about losing an appeal was spurious because in fact the City of Adelaide Planning Appeals Tribunal overturned fewer than one case per year brought against ACC during the 1983–89 period.28 While developers could appeal to the Tribunal, other interested parties could not. Conservationists or neighbours to a development proposal could submit their objections to ACC but they had no other legal recourse under the City of Adelaide (Development Control) Act, which did not provide for third party rights of appeal.
During the state government’s Planning Review in 1992, several individuals and groups commented on the lack of public consultation and third party appeal rights in the planning system. The Development Act (1993) remedied the access restrictions to some extent by providing in s.38(14) that any person who made a representation to the relevant council on a category 3 (non-complying) development may lodge an appeal with the Environment, Resources and Development Court (created at the time the Act came into force). One can only wonder whether Adelaide’s streetscapes would be different now if third parties had had the right to appeal against ACC’s decisions a decade earlier.
Register of City of Adelaide Heritage Items In March 1980, Lord Mayor Bowen announced that ACC would undertake a heritage study of the City of Adelaide. According Bowen, the study would end debate about the historic merit or otherwise of individual buildings. The motive was not solely to
preserve the built heritage:
Jane M Jose (formerly Alderman Jane Rann), personal interview, 22 July 2001.
Of 15 appeals against the Corporation of the City of Adelaide considered by the Planning Appeals Tribunal for the years 1984–90, only five were decided in favour of the appellant developer, and in three of those conditions were attached to the decisions. SA Appeals Tribunal Decisions Bulletin, Vols I and II, Bulletins 1–122.
The Role of Adelaide City Council The City of Adelaide Heritage Study began … at the instigation of a Lord Mayor who, annoyed at the increasingly visible confrontations between the development industry and the heritage lobby, wished to identify once and for all those buildings in the City which could be redeveloped. Through a reverse twist, the Heritage Register began in Adelaide by identifying sites for redevelopment and heritage items by default.29
Former Alderman Chris Douglas expressed the same view in more colourful language:
‘Certainly the city didn’t want to use heritage provisions to stop any development, and that was why when Bowen was Lord Mayor the property barons decided that the way to go was a list, and the list would say “ok if you’re on, and if you’re not on, you’re not on”. It gave that absolute certainty’.30 Consultants Donovan, Marsden and Stark (DMS) were appointed in early 1981 to undertake stage I of the study, to photograph and record basic information as an ‘historical analysis’ of every building in the city. The DMS study, completed in 1982, recommended a preliminary list of more than 400 buildings to be entered on the Register of City of Adelaide Heritage Items. Lord Mayor Bowen had expected the first register to comprise about 120 buildings that the Lord Mayor’s Heritage Advisory Committee (LOMHAC) would recommend to ACC.31 LOMHAC first met in April 1981 to develop procedures for evaluating items recommended by DMS for the heritage register, and in November began to consider a draft list produced by the consultants along with items on the National Trust register. A major concern was appropriate action for buildings that were the subjects of development applications lodged with ACC. In a letter to the city planner dated 17 June 1982, DMS expressed concern about the proceedings of LOMHAC.
Specifically, they observed that ‘some members appear to take little, if any, cognizance of the documentation which is provided, when making decisions’ and appear ‘to be swayed by development options’ (like the State Heritage Committee at the time).
Further, ‘the nature of historical significance appears misunderstood and is given scant regard’ compared to architectural significance.32 Architectural merit as the Susan Marsden and Robert Nicol, The Politics of Heritage (Adelaide: History Trust of SA, 1990), p 36.
Chris Douglas, personal interview, 21 August 2001.
For membership of LOMHAC, see Appendix B.
Letter reproduced in Peter Donovan, Susan Marsden and Paul Stark, City of Adelaide Heritage Study (Adelaide: City of Adelaide Department of City Planning, 1982), Appendix C. Among buildings of historical significance on the list was the Aurora Hotel at Hindmarsh Square.
Heritage Politics in Adelaide major determinant was also characteristic of the first entries on the Register of State Heritage Items. Davison in Melbourne observed that heritage registers are ‘likely to reveal a strong bias towards grand buildings designed for wealthy clients by wellestablished architects’.33 As chapter 2 notes, for some years the SAHC refused to recommend buildings that were the subjects of development proposals. ACC followed suit in compiling its heritage register. In February 1982, John Mant and Social and Ecological Assessment Pty Ltd were engaged to undertake the stage II study on ‘legal and economic aspects of heritage conservation in the City of Adelaide’. The report specifically recommended that ‘the listing of heritage items by LOMHAC be based upon the heritage criteria adopted by Donovan, Marsden and Stark and that economic factors not be considered at the time of listing’.34 This recommendation provoked strong written comments from former Lord Mayor J.V.S. Bowen and from Councillor Dean Fidock, the latter stating that ‘in my view consideration of the economic consequences of listing is a sine qua non – in any such exercise as only in this way can the value of heritage listings be compared with their non-intrinsic worth’.35 Since nearly 50 buildings recommended by DMS were not listed on the city heritage register, among them the ABC building and Aurora Hotel in Hindmarsh Square. While there is no record of outside influence on the committee’s decisions, as with all committees of its nature, the process was prone to human error and to political input. When asked whether he was aware of attempts by the owners to keep their buildings off the register, a former city planner replied, ‘who can say; I mean, when you see these bodies in operation, you don’t lie awake at night wondering any more’.36 A preliminary list was publicly available in 1984, and after considering more than 100 public submissions, LOMHAC recommended a register to ACC in February
1985. In mid-1985, ACC finally approved less than 5 per cent of the city’s stock, to comprise the Register of City of Adelaide Heritage Items. The statutory public exhibition of the register was held in late 1985, by which time properties located in the city that were listed on the State Heritage Register had been added, to comprise Graeme Davison and Chris McConville, A Heritage Handbook (St Leonards: Allen & Unwin, 1991), p.10.
Recommendation 3 of J Mant and Social and Ecological Assessment Pty Ltd, Legal and Economic Aspects of Heritage Conservation in the City of Adelaide, Draft Heritage Study, Stage II (Corporation of the City of Adelaide, 1982), page unnumbered (emphasis in original).
AC Archives file 7601, part 1, letter from Cr Dean Fidock to the Lord Mayor dated 5 August 1982.
John Hodgson, personal interview, 18 October 2001.
The Role of Adelaide City Council a list of 419 items.37 The register contained major institutional buildings, such as those in the cultural precinct of North Terrace, banks, post offices, schools, places of worship, major hotels and stately homes, plus other built structures. Parliament approved it as a schedule to the City of Adelaide Development Control Act (1976), along with the 1986–91 City of Adelaide Plan, and gazetted it in December 1987. The register should have been approved as part of the 1981–86 Plan, as recommended by the George Clarke team, but as former Alderman Hamilton said, ‘you could be cynical about that. It should be that heritage listing was considered simultaneously with Plan Reviews, but it has always lagged behind’.38 The consequence was that some of Adelaide’s distinctive urban character was lost during the 1980s before this register and local heritage formed part of legislation.
When the city register was made public, Chris Russell of The Advertiser reported that ‘initial reactions are that the list is conservative. … There is a feeling that the very old humble common houses, factories and so on are not so well represented’.39 That feeling had intensified by the time the city register was gazetted. Lord Mayor Wendy Chapman had claimed in 1983 that the ‘list would not be ongoing … That certainty of knowing a building will not appear on the list in months or years to come would assist with the development of the city’. However, the register did not provide the certainty desired by either developers or the heritage movement. As John Mant predicted in stage II of the Heritage Study, ‘there can be no guarantee that a building which has not been placed on an official list or register will not attract the attention of some community group or non-government conservation body if it is threatened’.40 Nor could the community be certain that a heritage-listing would protect a building, as events proved.
Having approved the register, members of ACC on several occasions sought to remove buildings from it. In May 1987, for example, Councillor Jim Crawford unsuccessfully moved for delisting of the Keith Sheridan Institute in MacKinnon Parade, North Adelaide, one of the few extant buildings listed on the Kingston survey Three hundred and sixty three of the items were buildings. Others were built structures such those listed in the Torrens Lake precinct: the Torrens weir, a band rotunda, a bridge, the Adelaide Oval scoreboard and grandstands and entry gates to the oval. Some items were listed twice if they extended over more than one precinct. SA Government Gazette, 23 December 1987, Schedule to City of Adelaide Development Control Act (1976): Approval of Amendment to Principles, pp.289–99.
Mark Hamilton, personal interview, 17 July 2001.
Advertiser, 1 December 1983, p.7.
J Mant and Social and Ecological Assessment Pty Ltd, Legal and Economic Aspects of Heritage Conservation in the City of Adelaide, p.12.
Heritage Politics in Adelaide of 1872. A few months later, ACC approved the demolition of the Working Women’s Creche in Gouger St, but the CAPC refused the recommendation. The City of Adelaide Planning Appeals Tribunal later approved demolition (see chapter 7). I describe above and in chapter 6 approval of the demolition of the Commonwealth Bank interior and the gutting of the North Terrace heritage buildings for the REMM project.
The city register remained static for the five years between City Plan reviews, as intended by ACC. By 1989, when an application to redevelop the site of St Paul’s church in Pulteney St was lodged, ACC agreed to reconsider the 715 buildings listed in Appendix 2 of the DMS Heritage Study. The consultants had compiled a list of buildings that contributed significantly to Adelaide’s distinctive townscape but that they deemed not to meet the LOMHAC criteria. After the city heritage register had been determined, the buildings not accepted for the register were added to the character schedule. This schedule had no legal standing. Consultant Paul Stark bluntly described the character schedule as ‘a list of leftovers’ from the Heritage Study, adding that the list nevertheless ‘festered because people believed it did have status’.41 By 1990, some of these buildings had been demolished.
In August 1990, after ACC debated two key development applications involving buildings listed on the DMS 1982 Character Schedule, ACC resolved to begin a process of adding buildings to the city’s heritage register as part of the five-yearly review of the City of Adelaide Plan. No buildings had been added since the register was ratified in 1987, and the debate reflected changing heritage values since the register was compiled. In September 1990, a City of Adelaide Heritage Advisory Committee (COAHAC) was set up to assist ACC in the initial compilation of the Register. COAHAC comprised representatives of the Building Owners and Managers Association, the Real Estate Institute of SA, the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, the Royal Australian Planning Institute, the Australian Institute of Valuers, the National Trust, AHA, the North Adelaide Society, the Square Mile Residents’ Association and four heritage experts.42 COAHAC gave building owners the opportunity to object to heritage listing. After the first statutory public exhibition of the list of 104 items recommended for heritage listing, mostly gleaned from the Character Schedule, ended in December 1990, COAHAC began considering 40 objections in March 1991.
Paul Stark, personal interview, 20 September 2001.
The members were: K Taeuber (Chairman), P Bell, A Cawthorne, B Close, D Harry, G Lindner, S Marsden, K McDougall, G Pember, J Persse, H Ramsay, B Rowney, P Stephens and D Wallace. ACC minutes 25 February 1991, item 8.2, p.2769.