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5The Independent Weekly
January 22 - 28, 2010
Adelaide s streets are emptier than
they could be four nights a week
because young people can t afford to
rent in the square mile.
To try to change that, the
Adelaide City Council is consider-
ing a development on Sturt Street,
in the west end, which will help
young people and workers from key
city industries pay for a city home.
This week the council released a
proposal to revoke several blocks
of community land -- including the
site of the Sturt Street car park,
Meals on Wheels and the St John s
Youth Hostel -- to make way for a
residential building. These services
would have to relocate.
The apartments would be
reserved for low-to-middle-income
earners, who the council says
will include people in the health,
education, retail and hospitality
sectors concentrated in the city.
Tricia Ryan, a professional in
her early 30s, would love to see the
proposal go ahead. She has been
looking for a home near the city
for almost two months. Despite
her steady employment with the
Adelaide Fringe, weekend work
in retail and extra income as a
freelance performing artist, she
can t find anything suitable.
"A few years ago I used to pay $70
a week to rent a flat on Fullarton
Road. I m now looking at a very
similar place for $300 a week," she
The council says the proposal
won t just help individuals like Ms
Ryan. The Sturt Street development
is part of its strategy to redress the
city s social imbalance.
"The city has six times as many
households on the lowest end of
the income scale and twice as many
households at the highest end
compared to the wider metropolitan
area," states a report on the project.
"Accordingly, there are markedly
fewer households in the low-to-
Creating a more diverse mix of
residents would make Adelaide
a more interesting place to live
and work, according to Urban
Development Institute executive
director Terry Walsh.
"We need students, business
people and family-oriented people
to use the space in the city for their
own recreation. That will create a
vibe and a pulse," he said.
Adelaide's changing face
One of Australia's most gracious colonial cities is losing its character and identity, reports Farrin Foster
Heritage advocates won a battle to
save Adelaide University s Union
Hall this week, but the war is hardly
On Monday, Adelaide City
Council s development assessment
panel voted against the uni s plan
to demolish Union Hall and replace
it with a seven-storey building.
"The proposal does not achieve
an acceptable relationship with
the Barr Smith Library building.
The siting, bulk, scale and height
of the building does not satisfy the
desired character of the zone," say
minutes from the meeting.
"It is very heartening to know
the council can see the value
of Union Hall," said campaign
spokesman Andrew Cawthorne.
The council s word is not final.
The State Government develop-
ment assessment commission, has
the ultimate power to approve or
reject the project.
Adelaide University Acting
Vice-Chancellor Professor Mike
Brooks believes the development
will still be passed. "The University
of Adelaide is confident that its
application to build a world-class,
seven-level science building is com-
pliant with the City of Adelaide
development plan," he said.
Yet another heritage-
versus-development stoush is
underway in Adelaide city s
Real estate agent and developer
Bernard Booth has applied to
demolish a late 1800s bluestone
mansion which was built by and
housed the Langhans -- one of SA s
influential society families.
Heritage defendants are rushing
to its aid.
"It s got definite local heritage
value for the city of Adelaide, if
not for the state as well, because
of the people associated with the
building," said National Trust
spokesperson David Beaumont.
Bulldozing Adelaide s pre- and
post-colonial past is almost a
big-game sport in Adelaide. The
art-deco Chelsea cinema is caught
between progress and preservation,
and a decision on Union Hall s
heritage status is expected within
weeks (see right).
But some experts believe heritage
and development can co-exist.
"You can retain heritage value
and historic character while still
allowing a relatively robust develop-
ment if the process is managed
properly," said Jason Schulz of
DASH Architects, a firm which
specialises in heritage projects.
The possibility of achieving
this has improved since the
Rann Government, after a
recommendation from former
Laura Lee, decided to establish the
South Australian Commission for
Integrated Design (SACID).
"SACID will develop guidelines
for good design policy and practices,
based on evidence and best practice,
and identify opportunities for
innovation," said a spokesperson
for the Premier s Department.
The new body aims to create and
administer an over-arching vision
for the design of SA cities and
regions. If it works, more building
designers, architects and policy-
makers will have a "bigger picture"
in mind when they approach a
"What s exciting about an
integrated design commission is
the potential it has to bring together
all the good things we have already.
For so long the good work that s
occurred here has been discon-
nected," said Institute of Architects
SA president Tim Horton.
Mr Horton said the commission
could combine "preservation and
the future aims" of the city, and
make heritage decisions easier by
putting them in a larger context.
With a big new vision from the
Government, the small heritage
buildings around the city could
have a chance of meaningful
Proposal set to make city living more affordable
war not over
Facing the wrecker's ball: the bluestone mansion on Wakefield Street.
Photo: Kate Elmes
Tricia Ryan: still searching for a home
in the city.
Photo: Kate Elmes
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