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By the time ACC held its first public (non-statutory) exhibition of a streetscape concept in 1989, the suburban councils of Unley and Kensington and Norwood had prepared documentation in anticipation of approval of historic (conservation) zones in their areas. Like ACC’s townscape initiative, these zones protected the streetscape contribution of designated buildings or groups of buildings within the zone and specified that infill development must be sympathetic to the built character of the zone. The zones were formally established by amendment to the Planning Act (1982), effective August 1990, and affected all local government areas except the City of Adelaide. By 1993, when ACC was unable to reach agreement on its townscape initiative, historic (conservation) zones were operating in the local government areas of Burnside, Kensington and Norwood, Port Elliot and Goolwa, St Peters, Unley, Walkerville and Willunga. Because of the nature of city politics and because there was so much more at stake in Adelaide, the Adelaide city planners did not achieve their goal of townscape protection.2 The City of Adelaide Townscape Initiative The DMS Heritage Study of 1982 included in Appendix 2 a list of 715 items suggested for a City of Adelaide Character Schedule. The consultants identified buildings that contributed significantly to Adelaide’s distinctive streetscapes but which they deemed did not meet the LOMHAC criteria.
In 1985, Lord Mayor Jim Jarvis discussed streetscape protection with Premier Bannon, possibly at the instigation of historian and ardent heritage protectionist Councillor Norman Etherington. Bannon said it would be impossible to legislate North Adelaide was designated an historic (conservation) zone in 2008.
Heritage Politics in Adelaide for streetscape protection, given that, as the DMS report put it, the merit of the items on the list emanated from the ‘manner in which they reinforce the character of Adelaide’,3 a concept too vague to be acceptable to a court. According to Michael Llewellyn-Smith, townscape protection was debated extensively between state and ACC officials, ‘but at the end of the day the council accepted that the government was not going to legislate for it, in which case we were wasting our time trying to get it into legislation on the basis of the work that had been done at that time’.4 The city manager acknowledged that the list needed more research and documentation, and ACC resolved to put more time and effort into the character schedule during the next Plan Review in 1991. Thus, the first effort to legislate for conservation of the city’s traditional character was aborted, and for 1986–91 ACC was limited to protecting the 363 buildings and other items on its heritage register and developing incentives for the maintenance of those items.
Public demand for more extensive heritage protection did not end, however.
As former Alderman Jane Rann observed, it is probably communities that have driven the protection of … the more ordinary buildings that people have a very strong connection to. It’s where they have grown up, it’s the texture, the backdrop to their community life. In the early 1980s there was a lack of willingness to embrace that community desire for more than just the grand monuments of the nineteenth century to be protected.5 In 1989, the state government responded to community demand in several suburbs by amending the SA Planning Act (1982) to extend development control powers to local government to conserve the built character in designated historic (conservation) zones approved by the Minister. By that time, ACC had proceeded down a similar track — its townscape initiative — to achieve character protection under the City of Adelaide (Development Control) Act.
After the completion of the 1981–86 Plan review in 1987, City Planner Malcolm Challen proceeded to prepare a townscape conservation proposal for the City of Adelaide. To test community opinion, ACC mounted a non-statutory exhibition on Adelaide’s streetscapes in March-April 1989 in the new State Bank Centre (a most Peter Donovan, Susan Marsden and Paul Stark, City of Adelaide Heritage Study (Adelaide: City of Adelaide Department of City Planning, 1982), p.79.
Michael J Llewellyn-Smith, personal interview, 30 July 2001.
Jane Jose (formerly Rann), personal interview, 22 July 2001.
Townscape Protection to Local Heritage inappropriate venue) in association with Adelaide’s Spring Heritage Festival organised by the National Trust. Adelaide’s Department of Planning and Development produced a sheet on the purpose of the exhibition, explaining that the Register of City of Adelaide Heritage Items guaranteed neither the setting of heritage items nor Adelaide’s unique character of place so another form of protection was considered necessary. Further, ‘this process of public participation … will undoubtedly reveal the polarities of comment … Clearly for the eventual result to be justifiable and defensible, the essential balance must be struck … Heritage items and townscape elements must co-exist with the 20th century’.6 By August 1990, the administration was prepared to recommend a townscape initiative — this term replaced streetscape protection — to ACC’s planning and environment committee. Its report described one option of listing on the heritage register the 1,180 buildings contained in the 1982 Character Schedule plus more recently identified buildings to a total of 1,380. This would necessitate onerous costs of employing researchers to document the buildings fully. The difficulties of listing on the heritage register were compared with the simpler alternative of a townscape initiative that the corporation’s staff could undertake: ‘The Townscape initiative has the potential to yield a result more in keeping with the conservation objective desired by the community; the recognition and protection of the character of groups of buildings in the context of the street … [and] would avoid the research commitment necessary for additions to the Register, as the Townscape initiative involves designation on the basis of physical, aesthetic or scenic qualities’.7 The report acknowledged that Adelaide had lagged behind other states in the recognition and statutory protection of the character and townscapes of value to the City.
Adelaide also lagged behind several suburbs in the metropolitan area that had introduced similar levels of townscape protection through historic (conservation) zones from 1989.8 A second, more extensive non-statutory exhibition in November 1989 – January 1990 was concerned with identifying the important streetscapes in Adelaide and establishing the criteria for streetscape designation within the City of Adelaide Plan.
The criteria accepted by ACC for the exhibition were ‘groups of buildings of Corporation of the City of Adelaide, ‘The Character of the City of Adelaide’, Department of Planning and Development, March 1989.
PEC, 13 August 1990, item 7.2; ACC minutes, 24 October 1990, item 8.3(5), p.2372.
ACC was not eligible to submit a plan for historic (conservation) zones under the Planning Act
1982. Had that Act applied to Adelaide, the townscape debacle could have been avoided.
Heritage Politics in Adelaide distinctive aesthetic, cultural, historical and/or architectural interest’. By narrowing the streetscape concept to groups of buildings only, ACC’s administration excluded important individual Victorian buildings such as the Somerset Hotel in Pulteney St and the House of Chow building in Hutt St, which were the focus of public protests.
The administration delivered its 1990 recommendations on the townscape initiative to a council membership that had changed considerably from 1980. ACC no longer primarily represented the business community. Eight of the 18 members represented the residential sector, although one of those, Ian Caller, managed a shop in residential North Adelaide. Of the other 10 members, not counting the Lord Mayor, two did not always vote with the so-called pro-development faction. Sam Christodoulou was a planner who tended to vote with the business group provided a development proposal before ACC complied with the principles of the City of Adelaide Plan. Michael Harrison, the most thoughtful of the group, was sometimes an independent voter. Furthermore, two of the pro-development aldermen were in financial difficulty and often failed to attend meetings, which changed the balance of power on those occasions. Similarly, the residential members did not vote consistently as a bloc, the dissenters usually being Alderman Christopher Douglas and Councillor Alan Rye.
Paul Stark has cautioned against depicting the membership of ACC as factionalised
on heritage as an issue:
There was a lot of bi-partisanship on council in terms of heritage up to a point.
The city heritage register would never have occurred and agreement to the management and promotion of heritage would not have occurred without the support of council as a whole. … Where divisions started to appear was in … the extent to which the expanded scope of heritage could be defined.9 By the ‘expanded scope of heritage’ Stark meant ACC’s townscape initiative, which certainly appeared to drive the members into factions designated ‘pro-development’ and ‘pro-heritage’ by the media. But this nomenclature is misleading, because the most ardent pro-heritage members, such as Alderman Jane Rann and Councillor Jane Lomax-Smith, insisted they were in favour of good development provided it did not entail the loss of heritage in the city, and pro-development members voted for the Register of City of Adelaide Heritage Items, heritage conservation grants Paul Stark, personal interview, 20 September 2001.
Townscape Protection to Local Heritage and even a townscape concept. The boundaries of heritage listing — how far listing should go — divided the two groups.
The 1991 local government election delivered the first Adelaide City Council in which the heritage faction held a majority, possibly reflecting the community’s strong support for further heritage protection, or at least opposition to overdevelopment of the city. Under the headline, ‘Heritage faction the winner in the poll’, the City Messenger reported that ‘new councillors Jane Lomax-Smith and Jacqueline Gillen have boosted the faction’s numbers to 10’, in an example of media validation of ACC factions.10 The 10 pro-heritage members certainly behaved like a faction, beginning with a seaside retreat on the first weekend after the May 1991 election to discuss their goals for the next two years. The core of the faction comprised Aldermen Jane Rann and Rosemary Boucaut, Councillors Bob Angove, Ian Caller, Francene Connor, Jacqueline Gillen, Michael Gibbs and newly elected Jane Lomax-Smith, with Alderman Christopher Douglas and Councillor Alan Rye at the outer edge.
Lomax-Smith soon joined the core group and became one of its leaders. While the protection of Adelaide’s townscapes was at the top of the agenda, the goals illustrate the broad range of the faction’s interests, which included fundamental planning issues, infrastructure investment, parklands management, a bicycle strategy, and disabled and youth issues. Alderman Douglas did not attend faction meetings.
Two weeks after the 1991 ACC election, early on 19 May 1991, a developer illegally started to demolish the rear addition to his two-storey bluestone building at Wakefield and Hutt Sts in Adelaide. The landmark ‘House of Chow’ building did not have heritage protection, but possibly because ACC had originally opposed its demolition, a decision overturned by the Planning Appeals Tribunal, Antbros Properties Pty Ltd began to demolish the building without approval under the Building Act with respect to safety requirements. The city engineer halted the demolition, but soon afterward a public protest erupted at the site (see chapter 7).
A dawn-to-dusk vigil continued for more than two months, the longest public protest against demolition of an Adelaide building.
ACC’s townscape initiative was already under way when the House of Chow controversy commenced. Conservationists claimed the demolition illustrated the need for greater protection of Adelaide’s built character. Mark Parnell and John Hodgson later commented that ‘largely under the impetus created by the “House of Chow” controversy, the council resolved to proceed with a Townscape proposal City Messenger, 8 May 1991, p.3.
Heritage Politics in Adelaide for the entire city’ on 16 September 1991.11 Heritage Architect Paul Stark agreed that ‘it was the House of Chow that galvanised people to seek that new degree of comfort for better management of the lesser rank of heritage’.12 Elected members were divided on the impact of the protest: some believed it propelled streetscape protection forward at both state and council levels while others believed the protest had little effect because ACC had already commenced its townscape initiative.
Following the House of Chow protest, Minister for Environment and Planning, Susan Lenehan, established an informal working party in July 1991 ‘to assist with the implementation of a Townscape schedule’ in Adelaide that might be similar to the historic (conservation) zones of local government. The working party comprised representatives of her Department, the City of Adelaide, AHA, the National Trust (SA), the Building Owners and Managers Association, and developers. City Planner John Hodgson submitted a report to the second meeting on August 7 outlining issues yet to be resolved. These were the need to provide certainty both to the development industry and to the community regarding the retention of the traditional character of the city, equity issues for building owners, especially in the commercial core and frame districts, defensible selection criteria and legislative mechanisms for identified townscapes. In September, the manager of the State Heritage Branch reported to the Minister on issues and policies emerging from the working party, which coincided with the objectives intended by ACC as it prepared for the statutory exhibition of the townscape proposal in December 1991.
The timing of the townscape initiative was unfortunate as it occurred during a concentrated period of planning reviews. ACC was undertaking its five-yearly review of the City of Adelaide Plan for the 1991–96 version, including a review of its heritage register, amid a periodic review of local government. Premier Bannon had instigated a State Planning Review in 1990 to improve and streamline the SA planning system, which included a review of the Planning Act, the Heritage Act, the City of Adelaide (Development Control) Act and related legislation. The first progress report of the State Planning Review was published in October 1991, while ACC was confirming its townscape initiative. Perhaps because of his involvement with the State Planning Review, without warning in October the chairman of the ministerial working party, Mr David Ellis, steered the committee away from the agreed townscape concept Mark Parnell and John Hodgson, ‘Issues of Planning Law’ (University of South Australia School of Geoinform-atics, Planning and Building Working Paper No. 7, the Planning Education Foundation of SA: Dec 1998), p. 35.
Personal interview, 20 September 2001.
Townscape Protection to Local Heritage and toward a local heritage register. This was followed by a letter from Minister Lenehan to the Lord Mayor in which she ‘foreshadow[ed] that when the work of the Planning Review is completed, there may be an alternative to implementing the council’s proposals’.13 The Minister was clearly influenced by the Director of the Planning Division of her department and not by members of the working party on the townscape initiative.