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Despite the shadow cast by the Minister’s September letter, the statutory exhibition of the townscape initiative proceeded from December 1991 – February
1992. When the exhibition was mounted, Councillors Jim Crawford, Bernie Lewis, Roger Rowse, Henry Ninio, Charles Moschakis and Con Bambacas sent an inciteful propaganda letter to the owners of all proposed townscape properties. At the top of the letter in bold Old English Script as a masthead was ‘The Advertiser, Adelaide’s only daily newspaper’. The Advertiser owned several townscape properties in the frame district, opposed the townscape proposal and may have agreed to the use of its corporate name in the letterhead. The six signatories purported to support the preservation of the city’s townscape but referred to ‘unexplained hidden injustices’ in the proposal. They claimed that ‘your property will be listed as “townscape” at some cost to you, with absolutely no right of appeal, and no compensation’, and further, ‘if you don’t mind … your bank saying to you that it now needs more security against what it lent you on your mortgage, then Townscape listing won’t worry you’. A questionnaire accompanied the letter, in which the councillors invited the property owners to state their objections to the initiative. Former Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith believes the six opponents of townscape protection were fighting for their own political survival in sending the letter: ‘It was a purely politically motivated fight, and it was a very successful one as well. They hired PR consultants and press secretaries; they really went into the whole process with money and determination’.14 The letter was extremely misleading with respect to the impact on values of residential properties and the lack of appeal rights and compensation for property owners. Residential properties in residential areas hold and even increase their value as a result of heritage or townscape listing, but it was true that the development potential of properties in the commercial sectors of the core and frame districts Copies of the memorandum from the Manager, State Heritage Branch, to the Minister regarding City of Adelaide Townscapes, dated 2 September 1991, and the Minister’s letter to the Lord Mayor, PLAN 2485/91, are in possession of the author, who was a member of the Working Party.
Jane Lomax-Smith, personal interview, 28 July 2001.
Heritage Politics in Adelaide might have decreased, depending upon the property, the height limits and the desired future character statements for the precinct involved.
ACC established a process for the appeals of owners who objected to the listing of their property. It was considering the issue of compensation or incentives, particularly for owners of buildings in the core and frame district, at the time the scare campaign was launched. The number of responses to the questionnaire was minimal, but the mischief caused by the letter was momentous. Former City Planner John Hodgson said in an interview that ‘the letter sent out by Henry Ninio divided the community and the council. … One man was threatening to shoot several council members. I had to advise members that the threat had been made and reported it to the police’. 15 Of 612 public responses to the townscape exhibition received by the time it closed on 28 February 1992, 316 were generally opposed to the scheme, 254 generally in favour and 42 ambivalent.16 Not surprisingly, respondents from the core and frame districts were nearly all opposed to townscape protection because of a perceived loss of development potential in those areas, while those in residential areas were closely divided. ACC held a public meeting in the Adelaide Town Hall to explain the townscape concept. It then established small townscape advisory groups (TAGs) to hear verbal representations by affected building owners and members of the public.
The TAGs comprised two elected members and one staff member of ACC. The public hearings, held between March and August, considered objections to listing of some 106 townscape items, of which 24 were deleted from the original Townscape I list on the recommendation of the TAGs. The TAGs were later a target of strong criticism because the hearings were conducted by interested parties associated with ACC and therefore biased. The Sunday Mail reported on threats of legal action from property owners who claimed townscape selection was illegal because of a lack of criteria and no right of appeal.17 The objections notwithstanding and with pressure to include amendments relating to townscape in the 1991–96 Plan, ACC decided on 11 May 1992 to forward the general principles, desired future character statements and list of townscape buildings as exhibited, designated Townscape I, to the CAPC after ACC approved
the following changes:
John Hodgson, personal interview, 18 October 2001.
Minutes, Council Meeting 11 May 1992, item 7.1, pp.1819–21.
Sunday Mail, 12 December 1992, p.3.
Townscape Protection to Local Heritage • the removal of contemporary (post World War II) buildings and heritage-listed buildings;
• the elimination of the concept of contributory and non-contributory items so that only those buildings which contributed to ‘valued character’ would be listed, not groups which included both;
• the listing of individual buildings [the administration had approved a concept of groups of buildings only]; and • a public awareness campaign for a better understanding of the Townscape Initiative.18 ACC also considered the possibility of incorporating local heritage in the Plan in future after the state government had established criteria. For the time being, however, the principles and the groups of townscape buildings as exhibited were forwarded to the CAPC in September 1992, after the above amendments were made.
Townscape II An unexpected outcome of the 1991–92 statutory exhibition was that the public recommended more than a thousand additional properties for inclusion in the townscape initiative. Given that ACC took ten years to convert the original character schedule into a townscape scheme suitable for inclusion in the City of Adelaide Plan, the administration felt it could not cope with documenting the additional 1072 buildings by the end of the year. Nevertheless, ACC agreed to proceed toward exhibiting the items, designated Townscape II, with the statutory exhibition of the draft City of Adelaide Plan 1991–96 at the end of the year, after the list was culled by a small committee of ACC members and expert consultants. ACC resolved in August to add 682 Townscape II items to the draft Plan. This decision proved to be a political blunder. As Alderman Douglas commented, the townscape proposal was f….d up, really f….d up. You wanted the process to go with as little fuss as possible and get the system set up. … If it had gone ahead, the character schedule [Townscape I] could have been adopted and given legal protection, then you would have got onto the next stage… As it is, the whole thing had gone backwards, because you have come up with voluntary listing and
a general antagonism to heritage listing, and delisting as well.19 John Hodgson agreed with Douglas that the attempt to rush through the undocumented Townscape II list was a political mistake: ‘It was the administration’s view that Townscape I would prepare the groundwork for the more difficult ones for which there would be more objections. … We felt that the credibility of the process, which we had sweated blood on for years, was imperiled by the council suddenly saying that objective appraisal against criteria is not what this is about’.20 Douglas blames Alderman Hamilton, chairman of the plan review sub-committee, for the consequences of proceeding with the Townscape II list without delay in 1992.
Hamilton’s view was that, given 1991–93 was the only term in which pro-heritage members held the majority on ACC, ‘we felt we only had one opportunity … [that] we would never get another opportunity, and unless we were really going for a lot we would run the risk of going backwards’.21 Alderman Hamilton may have been right, not because the next council election could change the political climate in Adelaide but because the state government favoured a different form of heritage protection for local governments that the State Planning Review was developing. Furthermore, by mid-1992 the heritage faction faced a far stronger opposition in ACC, led by Councillor Henry Ninio, because of the lack of credibility of the Townscape II list. Possibly the pro-development membership would have been strengthened at the next election in any case, but the public confusion over the townscape issue certainly gave it a boost.
The Townscape II list was the catalyst for a developers’ backlash within and outside ACC. Councillor Ninio flippantly threatened legal action against ACC in July because of the townscape proposal. Instead, he hired media consultants and campaigned tirelessly against the proposal through local Adelaide newspapers to discredit the townscape concept and bid for the lord mayoralty in 1993. Lord Mayor Condous waged a negative campaign of his own, calling on the state government to ‘strip council of all power over the controversial townscape proposal’.22 Some of the state’s key property developers, including Con Polites, Ian Quigley Chris Douglas, personal interview, 21 August 2001.
John Hodgson, personal interview, 18 October 2001.
Mark Hamilton, personal interview, 17 July 2001.
Advertiser, ‘Govt Must Curb Council – Condous’, 13 November 1992, p.4. This and other public statements by the Lord Mayor resulted in his censure by the council at a special meeting on 14 December 1992 (minutes, p.4627). Councillors had called on Condous to resign in June 1992 because of his pre-selection as a Liberal Party candidate in State Parliament, which many believed compromised his negotiations with the Labor Premier.
Townscape Protection to Local Heritage and Patrick Farrugia, with Councillor Henry Ninio among them, hired a barrister to undertake investigative work to determine whether there was a case for a legal challenge against ACC on behalf of the ‘townscape victims’. The case did not proceed. This period of ACC’s history substantiated Alderman Harrison’s view that councillors are essentially amateurs: ‘they tend to be far more emotive because they are not professional politicians’.23 The negative media campaign by Councillor Ninio, a member of the ALP, encouraged Minister for Local Government Greg Crafter to intervene by setting up a city/state forum in late October, partly ‘to ensure close coordination of the objectives and Strategic Planning processes of the state government and the City of Adelaide’.24 Crafter did not disband ACC.
In a media release dated 18 October 1992 announcing the new forum, he made his position on the townscape proposal clear:
the Adelaide central business district is … an economic asset of primary importance.
So, we will not countenance dramatic shifts in property values or uncertainty over Adelaide’s investment potential … We must separate clearly, items of genuine local heritage value from efforts to manage streetscape and public spaces.25 In an interview nine years later, the former Minister explained his action: ‘If I recall correctly, there was a lack of resolve within the council to deal with these issues, and there was in fact a handballing of the matter to the state government by the council.
The council had a history of being divided and was not resolved to deal with this issue in a decisive enough way, so we stepped in to deal with the issue’.26 The forum was announced at the end of October 1992, to be chaired by Dr Raymond Bunker, Professor of Planning, University of South Australia, with businessman Tom Muecke as his deputy, and Michael Lennon (Director, State Planning Review), David Ellis (Department of Planning) and John Ellis (State Planning Review) representing the state government. The four nominees who represented ACC were City Manager Michael Llewellyn-Smith, Alderman Jane Rann and Councillors Jim Crawford and Alan Rye. The only members of the forum who were in favour of townscape protection, Jane Rann and Alan Rye, were a minority of two on a committee of nine.
Michael Harrison, personal interview, 30 July 2001.
AC Archives file A13946, City/State Forum Pt I.
AC Archives file A13946, doc 1, ‘Crafter to Sort Out Townscape Wrangle’, 18 October 1992.
Greg Crafter, personal interview, 21 July 2001.
Heritage Politics in Adelaide At the first meeting on 11 November 1992, City Planner John Hodgson submitted a discussion paper in which he outlined the history of the townscape
initiative and identified the following issues as unresolved:
(1) equity issues where potential property values might decline, (2) townscape vs. local heritage listing, (3) consistency of listing (possibly reviewing the entire Townscape I and II lists), and (4) clarification of criteria.27 At the same meeting, John Ellis of the Department of Premier and Cabinet described the draft Development Bill and Heritage Bill and provisions for local heritage. The record of this first city/state meeting shows ‘it was suggested that local heritage and townscape lists should be merged to effectively become a local heritage list within the City of Adelaide Plan’.28 The agenda of the forum was thus made clear immediately.
Two weeks later the City Planner reported that ACC had received ‘legal advice to the effect that a proposal involving at least partial retention of the physical fabric of listed buildings cannot be distinguished in its purpose from that of a Heritage Listed building, and therefore that the total townscape proposal should be translated into a Local Heritage List’.29 The legal advisor did not refer to the historic (conservation) zones then in place in suburban districts and the criteria for conservation in those zones, and the Minister appears to have disregarded them in opting for a local heritage register.
Meanwhile, ACC addressed inconsistencies between townscape principles and desired future character statements in the Plan. At its meeting on 9 November 1992, two-thirds of the buildings on the Townscape II list were deleted, which removed many of the one-storey cottages and houses in the city because townscape control of development of the sites conflicted with the Plan which might allow two- or even four-storey buildings in their precinct. ACC was apparently concerned about legal Memo to Members of City/State Forum from John Hodgson dated 10 November 1992. AC Archives file A13946, doc 9(6).
Record of Meeting of City/State Forum 10 November 1992, item 6. AC Archives file A13946, doc 9.
Memo from City Planner to Members of City/State Forum, Townscape – Resolution of Outstanding Issues, dated 28 November 1992. AC Archives file A13946. Paul Stark later said ‘the expression was coined, “you may not have the bun, you may only have the currants in the bun”’, personal interview, 20 September 2001. That is, groups of buildings were not to be protected, only individual buildings.
Townscape Protection to Local Heritage action in cases where townscape protection will limit the development potential allowed in a precinct under the Plan.
The forum continued to favour local heritage over townscape protection, and on 24 November 1992 participants agreed that ‘criteria for Local Heritage should be decided by the state to achieve some consistency across the metropolitan area’.
The minutes show ‘that there remained a perception that parts of the assessment process [the TAGs] was (sic) seen as biased. It was suggested that if outside experts (not only in heritage conservation, but also people of commercial, property and valuation expertise) had been used without the involvement of the council administration or elected members, there may have been a different perception’.30 The forum shifted the criteria from the contribution to Adelaide’s character of groups of buildings of townscape amenity to the local significance of individual items. Crafter wrote to ACC on 11 December 1992 seeking approval of the forum’s recommendations, and two days later he issued a media release announcing that the forum had resolved the open conflict between developers and various members of the community over townscape preservation. Attached to the release were these