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criteria for local heritage assessment:
A place may be designated as a place of local heritage value if:
(a) it displays historical, economic or social themes that are of importance to the local area; or (b) it represents customs or ways of life that are characteristic of the local area; or (c) it has played an important part in the lives of local residents; or (d) it displays characteristic construction techniques traditional to the local area;
or (e) it is associated with a notable local personality or event; or (f ) it is a notable landmark in the area; or (g) it is regarded with high esteem or affection in the local area.
NOTE: a place may include land and buildings as a group in more than one ownership.31 Record of Meeting of City/State Forum 24 November 1992, item 6, AC Archives file A13946, doc 17(1).
Minister’s media release ‘Townscape Being Dealt with on Much Sounder Footing’, dated 13 December 1992, in AC Archives file A13946.
Heritage Politics in Adelaide ACC agreed to the forum’s recommendations at a special meeting on 14 December
1992. What began as a proposal for townscape protection ended as another register to protect individual buildings, a list that had lesser status as perceived by ACC than the Register of City of Adelaide Heritage Items but based on similar criteria. Local heritage listing of individual buildings would not protect the traditional townscapes of Adelaide that form the built environment in which heritage buildings are located.
The acquiescence of the heritage faction to the Minister’s proposal seems difficult to understand more than a decade later since they retained the majority in ACC until May 1993. John Hodgson’s analysis is probably correct: ‘We set out to achieve one objective and we ended up achieving another. … My feeling at the time was that political expediency resulted in a local heritage register’.32 As early as May 1992 the townscape issue was described in an ACC meeting as a ‘nine-year drip torture’, and it appears the elected members were weary of the political struggle. A decade later Mark Hamilton spoke very positively about the outcome, describing it as ‘a step along a tortuous path which resulted in more buildings listed in the 1991–96 Plan’.
At the time, however, the participants welcomed an end to the most divisive period in the history of the modern Adelaide City Council.
On 14 December 1992, ACC agreed to the introduction of a local heritage register and to the appointment by the Minister of an independent review panel to consider objections to listing by property owners. The Local Heritage Review Committee was established in April 1993 to be chaired by businessman Tom Muecke, who had no professional background in heritage but considerable experience as chairman of the Advisory Committee on Planning. The committee members were architects David Gilbert and Brian Polomka, valuer Wayne Butcher and Tim Russell, all experienced in architecture, planning or property. Some 350 objections to townscape listing had been made during the statutory exhibitions, with 37 withdrawn, and the committee received more than 100. The objectors were to have the opportunity to have their cases heard, many for a second time. The local heritage review committee was a new procedural entity and was painstaking in its work over 18 months, making on-site inspections of all the properties involved. While it made piecemeal recommendations in late 1993 regarding buildings that did not meet the criteria, the committee had not submitted its final report to the Minister by the time the state election returned a landslide victory for the Liberal Party on 11 December 1993. The new Minister for Urban Development and Local Government Relations, John Oswald, supported the review committee, which concluded its work by mid-1994.
John Hodgson, personal interview, 18 October 1991.
Townscape Protection to Local Heritage Henry Ninio was elected Lord Mayor in May 1993 and continued his attack on the townscape/local heritage processes for property owners who had objected. He wrote to Minister Oswald on 30 August 1994, expressing his ‘extreme concern, on behalf of the people [named on a document attached], regarding their properties being listed on the Local Heritage List’. He stated the property owners’ objections were valid because the original townscape process was ‘fundamentally flawed’, with no precise criteria, and the owners could sustain financial loss without provision for compensation.33 In accordance with a motion passed on 12 September 1994 by his casting vote in the council, the Lord Mayor asked Minister Oswald not to list 301 properties on the Adelaide local heritage register that were the subject of owners’ objections, even though they were recommended for listing by the Local Heritage Review Committee. The Minister replied indignantly that ACC’s move was ‘divisive and unconstructive’. He asked that ACC reconsider its motion on the grounds that the local heritage review committee was established by agreement with council and that it made its recommendations after a painstaking and professional process of inspecting every property, designating the properties in accordance with the criteria for Local Heritage and thereafter hearing objections. The Minister pleaded specifically for ACC to satisfy the wishes of the owners of 37 properties who had withdrawn their objections. However, the Crown Solicitor had advised the Minister that his power to list the properties notwithstanding ACC’s objections was ‘dubious’.34 In January 1995, the Lord Mayor informed the Minister that ACC resolved to take no further action to include on the list of Local Heritage Items those properties whose owners originally objected to the listing. In other words, listing on the local heritage register was to be voluntary.
ACC upheld the policy of voluntary listing as late as 2001, when Lord Mayor Alfred Huang publicly supported the delisting of local heritage buildings at the owners’ requests, a continued aggravation for proponents of heritage principles, and again in 2004 after a heritage survey was conducted in North Adelaide. Former Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith was particularly infuriated by voluntary listing and delisting, saying the voluntary issue was the most objectionable. On the initial list, Letter from Lord Mayor to Minister Oswald 30 August 1994. AC Archives file D3554.
The Lord Mayor persisted in ignoring the fact that the properties were re-evaluated by an independent committee under accepted criteria for local heritage and were better documented than most of the other buildings on the original townscape list.
The Minister concluded that ACC should recompense the state government for the $138,000 costs incurred by the committee, but there is no record of such a payment in the archival file.
AC Archives file D3554, doc 2/770.
Heritage Politics in Adelaide people had the opportunity to object, and that should have been the end of it. ACC’s planning staff opposed the voluntary listing policy, as explained by City Manager Michael Llewellyn-Smith: ‘To open it up so that owners could have it repealed at any time was never in my view envisaged. To delist for reasons other than irreparable damage cannot be maintained and was never from a professional planning point of view a criterion’ for local heritage listing.35 Indeed, the criteria for townscape or local heritage listing did not include a provision that owner objection or financial loss were grounds for exempting a property from the register, but it became an ACC policy.
Lord Mayor Ninio’s opposition to local heritage was limited to the voluntary listing issue. On 6 December 1993, ACC, with his support, adopted a package of incentives for local heritage maintenance, which showed that $30,500 had already been allocated and that $500,000 was allocated for local heritage incentives in the budget for 1993–94. The budget was mainly disbursed in small grants, but it demonstrated a commitment by ACC to local heritage at a time when the state government provided nothing in its budget for heritage maintenance.
Conclusion The City of Adelaide townscape initiative was long overdue by 1989, as former Alderman Michael Harrison maintained, because townscape conservation had been foreshadowed 15 years earlier in the 1974 City of Adelaide Plan and because Adelaide lagged behind other states in the protection of the less significant buildings and streetscapes that formed the traditional character of the city. The scheme would have protected items and areas of special character identified as contributing to the environmental, social or cultural heritage of the City, although the items and areas would not individually merit entry on the Adelaide heritage register. While it would have conserved the traditional features of areas such as North Adelaide, the stringent controls of heritage listing would not apply to buildings that contributed to the townscape. Initially buildings within each townscape area were designated as either contributing or not contributing to the townscape. Non-contributing items were later dropped from the townscape concept. Only the frontages of designated properties to a specified depth that could be seen from the street would be protected.
Owners of such properties could alter the rear and interior of their buildings as they wished, provided the alterations did not impact on the streetscape. This contrasted Michael J Llewellyn-Smith, personal interview, 30 July 2001.
Townscape Protection to Local Heritage with state and city heritage listing, which in principle protected the substantial whole of the listed item.
The first steps in introducing the townscape initiative were a non-statutory public exhibition in early 1989 to gauge community reaction to the proposal, followed by a second statutory exhibition in November 1989 – January 1990. The scheme was accepted by a council that no longer primarily represented the business community.
In May 1991, the residential and pro-heritage faction of ACC gained a majority, shortly before the unlisted House of Chow building in Adelaide was threatened with demolition. A vigorous public campaign to save that building impressed upon the state government and ACC the need to expedite townscape protection in Adelaide.
The Minister for Environment and Planning set up a working party to accelerate progress on the scheme, but later in 1991 she followed the direction of the State Planning Review and supported local heritage listing as an alternative.
While state politicians and planners were moving away from townscape conservation, ACC became increasingly divided on the issue, particularly when more than a thousand additional buildings had been proposed by the public for inclusion in the scheme. It decided to proceed with the first exhibited townscape buildings and to examine the others separately, as a Townscape II group, in order that they could forward the principles of the scheme to the CAPC with the draft 1991–96 City of Adelaide Plan. In 1992, Councillor Ninio led a campaign against townscape protection on the grounds that the buildings had not been properly assessed and the scheme lacked credibility, although it was not intended that the buildings would be assessed as thoroughly as heritage buildings. The heated debates in council and anti-townscape lobbying led Minister for Local Government Crafter to intervene to resolve the matter through a city-state forum. The forum resolved to establish a second heritage register in Adelaide in lieu of townscape conservation, under criteria for local heritage prepared by the forum. A local heritage register meant that the townscape settings for heritage would not be protected, only individual buildings within them.
The Minister appointed a local heritage review committee to consider objections to the listing of buildings on the local heritage register. The process of accepting objections to listing established ACC’s new policy of voluntary listing of items entered on the local heritage register. With respect to the Register of City of Adelaide Heritage Items, property owners were able to object to listing, but the decision continued to rest on whether the property met the criteria, not on the owner’s objection.
From its inception, the Adelaide townscape initiative was out of step with urban planning in South Australia at the time. Had it begun earlier, as envisaged during Heritage Politics in Adelaide the review for the City of Adelaide Plan 1981–86, it might have been a model for local government historic (conservation) zones throughout South Australia. Had it begun a little later, ACC might have adopted the historic (conservation) zone scheme introduced in 1989 for suburban areas under the Planning Act through an amendment to the City of Adelaide (Development Control) Act. In the event, from 1991 the State Planning Review, which culminated in new legislation — the Development Act (1993) and the Heritage Act (1993) — overtook the townscape scheme. The government informed ACC in 1992 that the City of Adelaide (Development Control) Act would be repealed with the introduction of an integrated planning system for South Australia as a whole. That planning system included local heritage registers for ACC areas, not townscape protection. Developers preferred lists of individual buildings, as they could be certain that all unlisted places were available for development. Through the townscape process, the state government developed its local heritage criteria and the model for the local heritage advisory committee.
For a time in 1991–92, the pro-heritage majority in ACC and its planning staff progressed toward a scheme of protecting the nineteenth and early twentiethcentury character of Adelaide. In the end, however, the city and state governments chose to heed the objections of some 450 property owners rather than triple that number who did not object to townscape or local heritage listing. By so doing, they supported developers over conservationists and the commercial sector over the residential sector. Those dedicated to townscape protection to conserve the built character of Adelaide felt defeated by the local heritage solution, but as former Alderman Jane Rann noted, in the end … 1,492 properties were listed and less than 100 buildings of the original townscape initiative were not listed. That gives you a very clear view that most people didn’t mind and were happy to have their properties listed. A small, vocal minority opposed it vehemently.36 That vocal minority included developers and their representative organisations, some property owners, some architects, The Advertiser and others in the commercial sector who were successful in their campaign against townscape conservation.
Jane Jose (formerly Rann), personal interview, 22 July 2001. Ms Rann’s figure does not take into account the buildings that were not listed because of owner objections.
Previous chapters have shown that governments often gave consent when developers proposed building projects that would contravene heritage legislation or principles of development control affecting heritage buildings. Moreover, governments themselves sometimes initiated such projects. The Bannon Government was first elected during the state’s deepest recession since the Great Depression, and the Premier sought economic growth through major events and building projects.
Local governments also stretched the boundaries of development approval, often granting concessions to the developers of major projects that spoiled the character and streetscapes of Adelaide the most. Many Adelaide councillors expressed the view from time to time that the constraints of the City of Adelaide Plan were not intended to apply to major projects. For example, in a debate on the REMMMyer development, Lord Mayor Condous spoke of a ‘too rigid maintenance of the City of Adelaide Plan’, indicating a willingness to bend the rules for the largest commercial project of its day. Developers of major projects invested large sums of money, and many on the council believed they deserved special consideration.
In the 1980s, as heritage registers were being developed, heritage protection was
subordinated to economic growth at both state and local government levels. This chapter will look in detail at some of the major examples of such practices in Adelaide during the 1980s and early 1990s.