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The East End Market At the height of the building boom in 1987, the two city produce market sites in East Terrace either side of Rundle St East were vacated to attract the most complex series of development proposals of the Bannon decade. Most of the proposals grossly exceeded the height and scale limits defined for the precinct by the City of Adelaide Plan and impacted badly on adjacent heritage buildings, yet they were approved by ACC and the CAPC in a demonstration of the maxim that development controls are meaningless if governments have no desire to enforce them. At the end of the boom, however, in an unusual outcome, the state government purchased the southern Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange site and this time was unwilling to compromise the principles of the City of Adelaide Plan or the SA Heritage Act.
Personal interviews with Gerry Karidis 18 July 2003, Theo Maras 19 June 2003 and Joe Walker 25 July 2003.
Heritage Politics in Adelaide The history of redevelopment of the East End Market thus includes both the worst and the best responses by governments to development proposals involving heritage buildings.
Market gardeners had been congregating in northern East Terrace since the 1850s, until the East End Market Act (1875) set aside a town acre for market stalls behind the shops in northern Rundle St and East Terrace. The town acre soon proved too small, and the state government designated additional land south of Rundle St through the Adelaide Fruit and Produce Exchange Act (1903). The new market area (AFPE) was enclosed by distinctive two-storey red brick buildings in local Federation style, with ornate plaster decorations and half-timbered gables over arched entrances in East Terrace and Grenfell St, later extending to Union St.25 With these permanent markets, the precinct became a village within the city, offering trade other than produce for the market users. In 1987, as development proposals for the site were being lodged, the AFPE buildings were described by the Minister for Environment and Planning, Dr Don Hopgood, as ‘one of South Australia’s few heritage items of national importance’.26 The exterior buildings of the AFPE site were listed on the Register of State Heritage Items, but redevelopment would entail the clearing of original market sheds within its walls. At that time, the East Terrace shops and the East End Market Hotel fronting the northern market site were not listed until three of the buildings were placed on the Interim Register in 1987. Heritage activists, particularly the National Trust, watched anxiously as seven development groups in succession submitted proposals for the two sites to ACC from 1986.
The first proposal in early 1986, by Ian Quigley and Associates (who later combined with Pak-Poy and Kneebone), was to redevelop the market land on the northern side of Rundle St. ACC responded favourably to the initial letter of intent and an amended proposal in 1987 for an international hotel and an ‘all-suites apartment’ building that was five storeys over the height limit specified in the state government’s conservation study for the site. The Premier, the Minister for Environment and Planning and the Lord Mayor met with the developers to try to achieve a compromise, but Quigley refused, saying his project had been changed three times already and he would not be making any more changes. The Emmett The exterior buildings were designed by Henry James Cowell and built over six months in 1903–1904, a speedy development in contrast to modern attempts to redevelop the site.
Michael Page, Sculptors in Space (Adelaide: RAIA[SA], 1986), p.126.
Letter from the Minister to the Secretary, CAPC, dated 6 August 1987; DEP 11722 TC.2, CAPC File 17/86, vol. 2.
Case Studies in Heritage Politics: Major Projects AFPE section of East End Market in East Terrace.
Courtesy of Gerasimos Patitsas
Group and Metrocorp subsequently purchased the site with planning approval without ground being broken, making Quigley a considerable profit.
In 1987, ACC received the first of three unsuccessful proposals to develop the AFPE site south of Rundle St. North East Adelaide Redevelopment Pty Ltd (NEAR) submitted an ‘East End Gardens’ development proposal, a commercial complex with a 12-storey international hotel, a discount department store, a ‘junior department store’, medium-rise office blocks, luxury apartments, specialist shops, restaurants, a ‘festival market’ and a four-cinema centre. Protracted negotiations between the developer and the planning bodies ensued because of its excessive height and its small residential component. In early 1987, the State Heritage Branch had commissioned a conservation plan, favouring substantial residential development, which formed the basis for negotiations with the developer. Minister Hopgood had become firm in upholding principles of the City of Adelaide Plan relating to the East End Market site. In June 1987, he recommended to the CAPC that ‘the application should be refused because of its incongruity with the heritage significance of the State Heritage items involved and its lack of conformity with Principles 25 and 34 of the current Plan’.27 NEAR sold the AFPE site to a new East End Market Company Ltd formed in May 1988 by joint venturers the Emmett Group and Beneficial Finance. The developers proposed a $300 million commercial development of office and retail buildings, an exhibition centre, a cinema complex, residential accommodation, and underground parking for almost 1,300 cars. The proposal included restoration of the market facades and limiting the height of the buildings to eight storeys.
A modified plan without the cinema and exhibition centre was approved by ACC and by the CAPC in September 1988, with certain conditions that would protect heritage values, but it failed when the Emmett Group withdrew from the stalled venture and moved to develop the northern site with Metrocorp. Beneficial Finance and Ayers Finniss Ltd, the third owners, submitted their development proposal in December 1989.
ACC approved the new AFPE proposal in March 1990. It comprised three office buildings on Grenfell St that were above the height limit, two apartment blocks for short-term and residential occupation, a central retail area and basement car parking. ACC approved the project on the casting vote of the Lord Mayor, subject to an agreement with the developer that the residential component as described Letter from Don Hopgood, Minister for Environment and Planning, to Secretary, CAPC, dated 6 August 1987, ref. DEP 11722 TC.2m. CAPC file 17/86, vol. 2.
Case Studies in Heritage Politics: Major Projects in the plans and the heritage buildings would be retained and pedestrian access provided, among other details. After strong lobbying by the National Trust, the CAPC concurred with conditions regarding transferable floor area for the additional height of the office buildings, conservation of heritage items and completion of the southern office building only after substantial commencement of the residential buildings. However, by early 1991 Beneficial Finance was showing massive financial losses and sought to commence the project without the residential component, a proposal unacceptable to ACC. As Beneficial Finance went into receivership, the project lapsed in 1992.
The National Trust among others then put pressure on the state government to purchase the AFPE. The prospect of state government ownership came as a great relief to Rundle St traders and conservationists who had been lobbying for mixed use but primarily residential development at the AFPE site. While the cost to the taxpayer would be nearly $46 million, owning the site meant the government could control heritage conservation and the type of project to be developed. The downturn in the commercial building sector had occurred; office and retail development would be risky but residential development might be profitable. Even Lord Mayor Henry Ninio, who voted for the BFC project, said, ‘the best thing that could have happened is that nothing has happened’.28 Comments of the chairman of the East End Market Steering Committee, Dr John Mayfield, were more to the point: ‘The fact that the Beneficial scheme did get approved (twice, in 1988 and 1989) shows how the planning system can fail. In today’s context it would have been quite wrong; those office developments can be taken elsewhere in the city’.29 The state government purchased the site in May 1992 and immediately formed a steering committee of government and interest groups to prepare guidelines for a mix of sustainable buildings of commercial, cultural, educational and residential purposes. The Sydney-based Liberman Group, which had developed other sites in South Australia, won redevelopment of the residential AFPE site, and the local Mancorp Pty Ltd won the southern side of Rundle St. The AFPE site, revalued in 1993 at less than $10 million, would comprise 300 residential apartments, a square and public laneways. By agreement, the government would receive a percentage of the income from property sales and rentals. Stage One was approved in May 1994 and the remainder completed over the next five years. The final ‘walled village’, acclaimed by Lord Mayor Ninio as the ‘most exciting residential enclave in Australia, Advertiser, 20 August 1991, p.6.
Advertiser, 13 June 1992, p.11.
Heritage Politics in Adelaide if not in the world’,30 was neither as exciting as the National Trust and AHA had wished nor as incompatible with its surroundings as earlier commercial plans had threatened to be.
The renovations and redevelopment of the hotel, shops, cinema and restaurants along and behind the southern side of Rundle St, from the Stag Hotel to Union St, by Mancorp received the highest praise. Two-storey buildings at the rear of the Rundle St shops abut the linear ‘village square’ of the internal AFPE site. Mancorp aimed for a blend of food, art, design, entertainment, retail, heritage and tourism in their section of the East End while retaining the character of the precinct. Patrick Farrugia of Metrocorp was earlier credited with bringing life back into the moribund East End by renovating shops on the northern side of Rundle St and scrapping the Quigley/Pak-Poy plans for a hotel at the East Terrace corner. In 1991, Farrugia introduced a three-day undercover market behind the renovated shops, to establish a ‘Lygon St-style’ precinct. The markets ceased when he attracted two cinemas to the site six years later. By the mid-1990s, both sides of Rundle St continued to display their blend of colonial architecture and contemporary multicultural ambiance through the Mancorp and Metrocorp renovations.
Adelaide businessman Theo Xenophou took over the residential component of the northern site, overlooking East Terrace. ACC approved an eight-storey complex comprising 98 apartments and two levels of carparking in 1993, although according to the City Planner it was incompatible with heritage buildings on three sides. The approval lapsed on financial grounds but ACC reapproved the project in 1995.
Construction began the following year, a decade after the original Quigley proposal was submitted. Of all components of the East End Market area, this building was criticised most as overdevelopment of the site, looming over heritage-listed East Terrace shops and hotels, the Botanic Hotel and Botanic Chambers in North Terrace and Ayers House to the west. The National Trust, which occupied Ayers House, had lodged strong objections on the ground that the project contravened the City of Adelaide Plan regarding plot ratio, building height and setbacks. Not only was the height incompatible with surrounding heritage buildings, but also ‘its imposing bulk, being a single mass taking up virtually the whole site’, allowed no open space as stipulated in the Plan.31 This was another East End building that ACC and CAPC should not have approved, but the state government did not intervene in the redevelopment of this site.
Advertiser, 24 September 1993, p.15.
Aurora Newsletter, October 1993, p.2.
Case Studies in Heritage Politics: Major Projects The early East End Market proposals were submitted at a time of a commercial building boom, when a majority of ACC members bestowed approval on developer colleagues although their commercial projects were grossly above the height and scale limits allowed for their precincts in the City of Adelaide Plan. City Planner Harry Bechervaise resigned his position in part because of conflicts with elected members of ACC over the East End Market, and the National Trust became politically assertive in city developments as never before. The collapse of State Bank subsidiary BFC was partly due to its commitment to the East End Market Company, which ‘proved to be one of the tentacles around the neck of BFC, slowly strangling it to death, and materially contributing to the downfall of the other joint ventures’.32 As a result, South Australians were indebted $46 million through the State Bank. Substantial private funds were wasted in abandoned development proposals when developers would not conform to the principles governing the precinct. The involvement of the state government from 1992 through its ownership of the AFPE site proved that developers such as Max Liberman and Mancorp can profitably undertake a major project within heritage and planning principles.
Working Women’s Creche, Gouger Street (1898) Of much less capital value than the above projects, redevelopment of 13-21 Gouger St, Adelaide, including the state heritage-listed Working Women’s Creche, nevertheless involved a disregard of heritage legislation and planning principles. The creche was a charming two-storey stuccoed building associated with the history of Adelaide’s children and the robust women’s movement of the 1890s. It was heritage listed because of its historic significance as well as its architectural merit.
In 1985, businessman Myer Solomon gained approval to redevelop the creche and adjacent buildings, leaving only its heritage-listed façade to the depth of one room, in order to construct a seven-storey office building with shops at ground level.
Beforehand, the foundation stone and two original friezes of plaster cherubs and oak leaves had been defaced. Solomon proceeded with the demolition of the rear of the building and then abandoned the project. The site remained as an enormous hole opposite the Central Market for two decades, partly because of the heritage encumbrance and partly because of changing economic circumstances.
The State Government Insurance Commission (SGIC) purchased the site with the creche remnant in 1986. In 1987, ACC approved SGIC’s application to build Royal Commission into the State Bank, First Report, p.140.
Heritage Politics in Adelaide Working Women’s Creche with detailing removed, 1986.
Courtesy Andrew Cawthorne, AHA an eight-level carpark with ground-level shops and to demolish the creche. ACC had decided it was pointless to retain the remaining section of the creche. The AHA, CCSA and women’s groups, who claimed the building was an ‘icon in the women’s movement’, strongly opposed the demolition, the conservationists on the grounds that ‘it undermine[d] the credibility of heritage listing’ and that it contravened Case Studies in Heritage Politics: Major Projects
Building that replaced Working Women’s Creche. AHA collection.
planning guidelines for the precinct.33 The City Planner also opposed the demolition because the remaining part of the building was a significant element of the Gouger St streetscape and should be restored because of its proximity to the heritage-listed Samuel Way Building, the Supreme Court and Jeffcott Chambers.
The CAPC overturned ACC approval. SGIC then appealed to the Planning Appeals Tribunal, which upheld ACC’s recommendation, claiming the historic significance of the building had been lost when Solomon had demolished all but the facade and 9m depth in 1986. Thus, a planning authority in 1985 approved demolition of the rear of the building on the ground that the façade was a sufficient remnant of the cultural heritage and then another authority in 1988 approved demolition of the remnant on the ground that its historic significance had been lost by the demolition of the rear of the building.
Surprisingly, the next month Lord Mayor Steve Condous made a bid on behalf of ACC to save the creche by requesting that Premier Bannon advise SGIC to Aurora Newsletter, September 1987, p.1.