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In attempting to save us from ‘NIMBYism’ and ‘fruitless sentimentality’ with the forthcoming implementation of the new planning system, David Penberthy offers mixed messages (The Advertiser 12/2/21). On the one hand, he approves of high rise suburban residential development in Adelaide, but on the other, decries the tenement towers now common in Sydney suburbs. He rejects the ‘excessive and unsightly growth’ in Sydney and Melbourne, and wants ‘better designed smaller homes’.

In 2019, members of a long established community group were labelled ‘NIMBYists’ by your columnist for opposing a high rise development on Unley Rd. This was a State (SCAP) approved seven storey development in a Council-designated five storey zone, which required the destruction of five mature trees.

We are now confronted by an ugly monolith abutting the footpath of a main road and a small side street, with no open space or greening, with a major shortfall of on-site car parks and with disruptive impacts on traffic, rubbish collection and other services.
This sort of excessive development, which circumvents Council controls and community wishes, will be more common with the State-sanctioned, Planning and Design Code to be implemented on March 19.

Surely the Government can create a balance between essential housing needs and restricted urban sprawl, and the temptation to despoil our unique and beautiful city with unrestrained crowded infill and suburban high rise development.

Warren Jones
Convenor. Protect our Heritage Alliance

Guest Speaker: Sandy Wilkinson – Architectural and Heritage Consultant

Heritage, where we have come from & where we are going.

A presentation not to be missed!

Question and answer session to follow the presentations.

Unley Community Centre
18 Arthur Street Unley
7.30pm

The formalities of the AGM will follow the presentation. Nomination form for the FOCUS Committee of Management can be downloaded below, or available from our Secretary:
Mary Rumbold phone 0450 434 167 or the FOCUS website.

Due to Covid restrictions we are limited to 43 attendees; we will advise if there are changes.
Please remember to wear a mask, unless restrictions have been lifted.

Therefore it is imperative you RSVP by 9th September to:

Philip Henschke: (President) 0416 160 493 or Mary Rumbold (Secretary) 0450 434 167

Due to Covid Restrictions drinks only will be provided following the presentation.

PLEASE remember to pay your FOCUS fees ($20) at the AGM or direct via EFT payment BSB 065126 A/c No. 10142849. Please mark as FOCUS Fees and your name or make cheque payable to FOCUS (PO Box 172. Fullarton.5063)

Dear Supporter and Concerned Community Member,

Martindale Hall dates from 1880, and in 1972 it was bequeathed by the Mortlock family to the University of Adelaide.  In 1980, it was listed on the State Heritage Register, and in 1986 it was gifted by the University to the people of South Australia to be held in trust by the Government of South Australia.

Environment Minister David Speirs has introduced a Bill into Parliament seeking to divert Martindale Hall, and its surrounding Conservation Park from the protection it currently enjoys under the charitable trust established by the gift, the National Parks and Wildlife Act and the watchful eye of the National Trust of SA.

There are four main areas of concern in the Bill:

  • Abolition of the Conservation Park.
  • Extinguishment of the Charitable Trust.
  • Unfettered Ministerial powers to lease and license the Hall without public accountability.
  • Development approvals determined by the State Planning Commission, an unelected and unaccountable Government body.

If the Bill were to be passed, the Hall could be privatised or commercialised at the sole discretion of the Minister of the day, and public access could be diminished or denied.

There is widespread and escalating public concern about the damaging implications of this Bill.   However, this is matched by a groundswell of statewide community support for a pivotal role for the National Trust in conserving and enhancing the property as a major tourist attraction.    The Trust has committed to underpinning such a role with a $5 million endowment fund in the hope and belief that State Government will also make a substantial contribution, if it is serious about its concerns about the fate of Martindale Hall as a public institution.

However it appears that a rational approach to ensuring the future of the Hall hinges on Minister Speirs’ interpretation of the legal status of its charitable trust.  He insists that this trust must be abolished by an Act of Parliament to allow, even, non-invasive refurbishments of the fabric of the building.

His legal ‘advice’ is occult and mysterious, and possibly of no relevance to the National Trust’s proposal to restore Martindale Hall to its rightful heritage status and utility as a public asset.   The Minister claims that he can’t or won’t reveal the legal status of the Charitable Trust on the advice of the Attorney General.

When challenged on this issue on ABC radio recently, he, characteristically, lost his cool, and obfuscated to the point of incomprehension.    If, indeed, the Martindale Hall Trust is any impediment to future plans for the property, then, surely this specific issue can be solved by simple parliamentary regulation.  

There is no need for a legislative sledgehammer in the form of the proposed Bill, unless the Minister intends to use it to extricate the Hall from the protections hitherto afforded under the Charitable Trust and as a Conservation Park.

This Government’s abysmal record on heritage belies its pre-Election rhetoric.    We must hold it to account for every threat of demolition, disruption or privatisation of heritage items in the name of ‘development’ or misplaced populism.

As the Legislative Council prepares to debate the government’s bill to privatise Martindale Hall, I urge you to contact non-government members of the Council and ask them to vote against the bill.  You can also download the National Trust petition to Parliament and help collect signatures.  Please also sign and share the online petition.

We need your help to keep Martindale Hall for the people and protect it from the Government’s privatisation plans.

Thank you for your support.
 

Warren Jones 
Convenor, Protect our Heritage Alliance

Ask the Legislative Council to say no to privatising Martindale Hall  

Please write to the non-government members of the Legislative Council  and ask them to oppose the Government’s bill to allow the privatisation of Martindale Hall.Download a list of Legislative Council member contacts

Professor Warren Jones AO is the Convenor of the Protect our Heritage Alliance, a coalition of concerned organisations and individuals, working to protect our built and natural environment.   GPO Box 2021 Adelaide, SA 5001

Phone: 0419 852 622 

Email: convenor@protectourheritage.org.au

Web: www.protectourheritage.org.au       

Facebook:protectourheritageSA

In Melbourne it is alleged that dodgy tree loppers are scamming elderly homeowners and hacking up healthy trees. Here’s what you need to know. Dr Greg Moore (Melbourne University) writes in “The Conversation” (3rd August).

We certainly hope this is not happening in Adelaide!

For people concerned about maintaining their big trees, the article outlines the many attributes of big trees and reasons for their retention. It also includes excellent information on how to go about finding a qualified arborist/tree pruner.

Dear Supporter and Concerned Community Member,

Ever since the Liberal Government’s Planning and Design Code came into force in metropolitan Adelaide in March, we have been bracing for a wave of demolitions of our heritage buildings.

The Code has seriously diluted the demolition controls that operated in many Council Development Plans in the metropolitan area.  By making it easier to argue for demolition of local heritage places based on the cost of repair, many of our local heritage places will be vulnerable if they have not been adequately maintained.

An early and disturbing example is the 159 year old stone cottage in St Jude Street Willunga (above).  Purchased just months ago, the new owner is now seeking permission to demolish the building, arguing that it would cost an “unreasonable” amount to repair salt damp and issues with the foundations.  

These matters could readily be addressed with undersetting and salt damp treatment.  Neither of these problems are a particularly unusual requirement for buildings of this age. 

The fact that under the new planning rules, assessments acquired by the owner can be deemed sufficient to justify demolition shows just what a dangerous state our heritage protection system is now in.

Fortunately, and unusually, there is an opportunity for public comment on this proposal.  But you must act quickly.

You can register your opposition to the proposed demolition on the Plan SA website by Wednesday 4 August.

I urge you to make a submission to show your support for preserving this rare and delightful piece of Willunga’s history.

At the very least, please show your support for protecting it from demolition by signing the online petition

What is the point of our heritage protection system if it creates gaping loopholes that allow places to be demolished on the basis of advice purchased by the person proposing the demolition?

The integrity of our heritage protection system has been fatally undermined by the promotion of private certifiers and the exclusion of councils and communities from decision making processes.  Perhaps St Jude Street can be saved, but more than 21 000 state and local heritage places are now at similar risk until the heritage protection provisions in the Planning and Design Code are fixed.

So far, Planning Minister Vickie Chapman has ignored all of the submissions made to her about the need to address these glaring problems in her Planning and Design Code.

The fate of places like St Judes Street will be her legacy.

Thank you for your support

Warren Jones 
Convenor, Protect our Heritage Alliance

Ask the Legislative Council to say no to privatising Martindale Hall  

Please write to members of the Legislative Council  and ask them to oppose the Government’s bill to allow the privatisation of Martindale Hall.Download a list of State MP contacts

Professor Warren Jones AO is the Convenor of the Protect our Heritage Alliance, a coalition of concerned organisations and individuals, working to protect our built and natural environment.   GPO Box 2021 Adelaide, SA 5001

Phone: 0419 852 622  Email: convenor@protectourheritage.org.au

www.protectourheritage.org.au       Facebook: protectourheritageSA

Dear Supporter and Concerned Community Member,

The future of Ayers House as a treasured heritage property and museum is under threat.  On Thursday 10th June 2021 a notice of eviction from the Minister for the Environment and Water and his Departmental Head was hand delivered to the National Trust of South Australia indicating that it should vacate the premises within 31 days.

And so, a proud 50 year history of stewardship of the House and its Museum by the National Trust was summarily terminated.   This was an unprecedented and unwarranted attack by a Government on a major incorporated charity  organisation which for 65 years has nurtured and safeguarded much of South Australia’s built and natural heritage.

The History Trust of South Australia is a statutory Government Agency residing within the Department of Education.  Its funding, responsibilities and activities devolve from the Government of the day.   It was established 40 years ago, and, since that time, has been seeking a permanent location for its burgeoning administrative staff. It is hard to know whether this reflects the value placed on the Agency by Government, or the ineptitude of the organisation.

Why wait so long before entering a complicit arrangement with the Premier, and the Minister responsible for State Heritage, to purloin Ayers House from the National Trust for the inappropriate purpose of transforming its heritage interior into modern offices, lecture theatres and function rooms?

No other jurisdiction in the country has indulged in establishing a Government administered History Trust or similar statutory body.  There is a reason for this: the avoidance of the influence and vicissitudes of government control of our history, culture and heritage.   These areas of our lived experience must be the purview and subject of true community ‘ownership’, under the administration and protection of prestigious independent bodies such as the National Trust.  In other states, government public history activities sit within the purview of state museums and libraries.  Why does SA need this extra bureaucracy?

Apart from an unwarranted and inexcusable vindictiveness by the Government and its associated History Trust towards the National Trust of SA, there is no logical or practical reason to evict the National Trust from its long-term and responsible tenure of Ayers House.

The requirement for an administrative centre to accommodate a bevy of public servants in proximity to the commercial opportunities and political status symbol of Lot 14, is no excuse to eviscerate Ayers House, tarnish its heritage status and sacrifice its Museum collection of 30,000 precious and priceless artefacts and furniture.

If the Government is seeking a North Terrace address for the History Trust and its structural and bureaucratic functions it need look no further than the near-deserted Institute Building on North Terrace, or the vacant Eleanor Harrald complex within the Lot 14 complex.

Empty ground floor Institute Building

Vacant space configured for office in the Institute Building on North Terrace.

Eleanor Harrald Building

Eleanor Harrald Building at Lot 14.

These venues would more than serve the purposes of the History Trust.   Failing this, a cogent and compelling case can be made for disbanding this, so-called Trust.  It is not a Trust, it is a Government Agency.   It masquerades as a Trust in soliciting donations from the public; a curious twist to have a Government body formally seeking charity from its constituents.

The functions of the History Trust could more rationally and economically be disbursed in other ways, and to other more appropriate bodies.   The protection of our heritage should reside in a single, dedicated Government Department, and codified in new and comprehensive legislation.   The administration and management of the museums currently under the imprimatur of the History Trust could be placed under an umbrella overseen by the SA Museum.

Its educational activities can be implemented and co-ordinated by the Department of Education and other bodies, with local community input and support.

There is no doubt that ‘History Month’ is popular and successful, but like many of our other public events it need not be the province of a Government Agency.   In its current format, its activities rely heavily on local community involvement and front- line volunteers from the National Trust and other non-government organisations.

Simply put, the History Trust is an anachronistic and unnecessary impost on the public purse, consuming $6.5 million in taxpayer funds each year.  Its functions should be distributed largely amongst appropriate independent bodies such as the National Trust, and its substantial budget diverted from this bureaucratic agency towards efficient and directed subsidisation of the activities of other established bodies.

For example, the multi-million dollar spend recently announced by the Government envisages changes to the structure and functions of Ayers House.   This money could, most effectively, be used to install a lift and air conditioning in the House, and in assisting the National Trust to embellish and maintain the fabric and contents of this heritage icon, rather than establishing government offices there.

It’s all a question of political opportunism and priorities.  The Government will need to re-assess its attitudes and policies with regard to protecting our built and natural heritage and to its treatment of bodies such as the National Trust of SA.

To ignore these issues is to recruit an escalating body of opinion which will undoubtedly have an influence on the outcome of the forthcoming State Election.

I urge you to show your support for the keeping the National Trust at Ayers House by signing their online petition: Keep Ayers House for the People

Thank you for your interest and support.

Yours sincerely

Warren Jones AO

Ask the Legislative Council to say no to privatising Martindale Hall  

Please write to members of the Legislative Council  and ask them to oppose the Government’s bill to allow the privatisation of Martindale Hall.Download a list of State MP contacts

Professor Warren Jones AO is the Convenor of the Protect our Heritage Alliance, a coalition of concerned organisations and individuals, working to protect our built and natural environment.   GPO Box 2021 Adelaide, SA 5001

Phone: 0419 852 622  Email: convenor@protectourheritage.org.au

www.protectourheritage.org.au       Facebook:protectourheritageSA

Dear Supporter and Concerned Community Member,

The Government seems intent on alienating the community from its connection and access to our history and our precious heritage icons.   In recent weeks we have seen serious threats to the fate and future of State Heritage listed Martindale Hall and Ayers House.

Martindale Hall

Environment Minister David Speirs has introduced a Bill into Parliament seeking to divert Martindale Hall, and its surrounding Conservation Park, from the protection it currently enjoys under its establishment Trust, the Heritage Places Act, and the watchful eye of the National Trust of SA.

Instead, under the proposed legislation, the Trust and the Conservation Park would be abolished, and the ‘care, control, and management’ of the Hall would be ‘vested in the Minister’.  Although the Bill provides that the uses of the Hall are determined under the Heritage Conservation Policy, it also states that ‘The State Planning Commission will be taken to be the relevant authority…..in relation to any proposed development at Martindale Hall’.   In other words the fate of the Hall will be in the hands of an unelected body; an Agency of a Government which has shown that it cannot be trusted to safeguard our heritage.

There is widespread public concern about the implications of this Bill.  I believe that the Minister is unaware of the widespread opinion in favour of the retention of safeguards for Martindale Hall, and of the public support for an enhanced role for the National Trust in conserving and enhancing the property as a major tourist attraction.

Last week, the Government’s bill narrowly passed the Lower House and may be considered in the Legislative Council as early as next week. Now, only a vote of the Legislative Council against the bill can stop it from removing key protections for Martindale Hall as a community asset.  I encourage you to contact the non-government members of the Legislative Council to prevent the passage of this Bill.

Ayers House

The recent announcement of the Government’s proposed takeover of Ayers House raises many concerns about its future as a heritage asset for all South Australians.  We are faced with the alarming prospect of 50 years of National Trust stewardship of the House being abrogated and replaced by a tenancy ceded to a bureaucratic Government Agency, the History Trust, as its headquarters and administrative centre.

The manner in which the Government effected its appropriation of the future of Ayres House was as offensive as it was cruel.  The National Trust Executive received a hand-delivered eviction notice from Minister Speirs via his Departmental Head. This required the House to be vacated within 31 days.

I am concerned that this extraordinary action by the Minister is a vindictive response to the campaign by the National trust to safeguard Martindale Hall in the face of his proposed legislation.

It is vital that the ongoing lease of Ayers House should reside with the National Trust of SA which is the pre-eminent guardian of our history and heritage.

We are seeing increasing evidence that the Government and its administrative arms cannot be trusted in this role.

A Call to Action

I urge you to act now to help protect these two heritage icons and to safeguard their place in the public domain as tourism hubs within our community and for the many interstate and overseas visitors they will continue to attract.

You can help protect our precious heritage icons by contacting your State Member of Parliament, by downloading and sharing the petition to Parliament in respect of Martindale Hall or by signing and sharing the Ayers House online petition.

The National Trust is inviting everyone to special open days at the Ayers House Museum this weekend 10am-4pm.  Admission is free by you are required to pre-register for Covid-rule compliance.  Register here and come and see what is at risk of being lost.

Thank you for your interest and support.

Yours sincerely

Warren Jones AO

Ask the Legislative Council to say no to privatising Martindale Hall  

Please write to members of the Legislative Council  and ask them to oppose the Government’s bill to allow the privatisation of Martindale Hall.Download a list of State MP contacts

Professor Warren Jones AO is the Convenor of the Protect our Heritage Alliance, a coalition of concerned organisations and individuals, working to protect our built and natural environment.   GPO Box 2021 Adelaide, SA 5001

Phone: 0419 852 622 

Email: convenor@protectourheritage.org.au

Web: www.protectourheritage.org.au     

 Facebook: protectourheritageSA

As part of the Significant Tree List review, there is an opportunity for residents to nominate potential NEW trees for the Significant Tree List. 

As you are aware, any tree meeting the Regulated or Significant Trees criteria are automatically protected under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016. To supplement this, the City of Unley Significant Tree List allows for highlighting particular special trees, irrespective of truck circumference, in addition to those generally protected (ie circumference greater than 3.0 metres). Historically the list was contained in Table Un/9 of the Development Plan and has now transitioned into Part 10 – Significant Trees (Unley) of the Planning and Design Code.

The Significant Tree List was last updated in the Development Plan in 2002.  The current review is part of a 2 stage project to initially review and update the list to support a future Planning and Design Code Amendment (Part 10 – Significant Trees (Unley)).

The nomination of new trees, as well as assessment of the existing list of trees, is part of the Stage 1 scope of works. As you may be aware, we have consultants already auditing the existing tree listings and updating details including photos, location (including GPS coordinates) and assessment against PDI Act criteria. 

The call out for nominations has been posted on the web-site, provided to Your-Say-Unley community and communicated to other pertinent local community organisations.

The link below provides further information on the assessment and code amendment process:

https://www.unley.sa.gov.au/Environment-Hub/Trees

A simple online form is available for residents to nominate a tree.

All nominations will need assessment against the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act criteria regarding the merit for listing. Subject to the number of nominations received, it may take some time to resolve the final proposed list. Once a final list is compiled, the next steps for progressing a Code Amendment can be considered.


Dear Supporter and Concerned Community Member

new BILL providing greater protection for State Heritage has been introduced into state parliament.  It will require any alteration, partial destruction or demolition of State Heritage buildings or items to be approved by parliament, with transgressions attracting a penalty of $120,000.

We welcome this Bill as an expression of the increasing community concern about the threats to our precious heritage.  The recent extensive public backlash against the Government’s plan to demolish the State Heritage listed Waite Gatehouse Lodge was a hallmark in both the recognition and valuing of heritage by the community, and a warning that vigilance and strong legislation have become necessary to protect these important components of our history and lived amenity.

There are a number of State- listed items currently under threat, and the weakening of heritage protection under the new Planning and Design Code highlights the imperative to establish a codified structure to send a clear message to the community and to developers that our State Heritage is untouchable.

I urge you to support this proposed legislation by contacting and lobbying your MPs to vote for this Bill in both chambers of parliament. 

You can download a list of MP contacts here.Parliamentarians should be aware that heritage protection now has a high profile in the community and will undoubtedly be an Election issue in March 2022.Thank you for your interest and support.

Yours sincerely
Warren Jones AO 

Ask your State MP to stand up for our heritage Please write to your State MP  and ask them to support the bill to properly protect our State Heritage places.  Download a list of State MP contacts 

Professor Warren Jones AO is the Convenor of the Protect our Heritage Alliance, a coalition of concerned organisations and individuals, working to protect our built and natural environment.   

GPO Box 2021 Adelaide, SA 5001
Phone: 0419 852 622 
Email: convenor@protectourheritage.org.auwww.protectourheritage.org.au       
Facebook: protectourheritageSA 

The Committee of Management urges you to attend the History Week presentation entitled “If Mr. Whistler Could See Unley Now- Architecture-in Unley” on Thursday 27th May in the Town Hall from 7pm-8pm.  https://www.unley.sa.gov.au/Eventbrite/LIB-21-05-Architecture-in-Unley138552709885

The session will focus on the variety of architectural styles in Unley. Thomas Whistler received a land grant in 1834 which he used to establish the various villages of Hyde Park, Unley, and Unley Park. A person with enlightened beliefs about healthy communities he made grants of land to establish a school, now Unley school, a church now St. Augustine’s, a green space for the enjoyment of all the people now Unley Oval as well as land for council offices. Bookings via Eventbrite.

Focus works to protect the history and amenity of Unley and this presentation will add to our knowledge about Unley. Please find details with booking instructions in the enclosed flyer.

The Committee will not hold a May public meeting . The next public meeting will be our AGM on September the 14th.

Philip Henschke President

Dear Supporters and Concerned Community Members

We have just seen a week of significant events for urban planning, the environment and heritage in South Australia.

First, Minister Corey Wingard made a long-overdue announcement on the fate of the Waite Gatehouse Lodge.   Given that, fourteen months ago, the Government, and indeed the University, were prepared to see this State Heritage building consigned to landfill, the decision, now, to save it from demolition must be seen as a win for a seriously concerned community.

Remember that, in a relatively short intensive campaign, 18,000 signatures were gathered on an on-line petition, 8,000 on a paper petition, and more than 1,000 people attended the second of two effective community rallies.  To all of you who supported the campaign, I say a heartfelt thanks for your interest and efforts.

It seems clear that the Government was forced to make an ill-formed but welcome decision through fear of the hard-copy petition reaching beyond its required target of 10,000 within a couple of weeks, mandating its formal consideration by the Legislative Review Committee, the Minister and the parliament.

This process would have revealed the ineptitude, misinformation and confusion imposed on this important public issue by the Minister and his Department.   As it is, the decision to deconstruct and reconstruct the Gatehouse on another site in the campus will likely cost no less than relocation of the intact building which, undoubtedly, was the preferred and safer option.

The Government will now wish to expedite the Gatehouse deconstruction /decommission to allow the road intersection project to meet deadlines.  Once this is done, there will be no clear imperative or urgency to efficiently and safely relocate and reconstruct the building.

For this reason, the Gatehouse Campaign team will closely monitor developments.  We will insist that the Gatehouse reconstruction is accurate, creating like for like, using the original materials and retaining its State Heritage status.  Anything less than this will be met with a new and vigorous public campaign.

The other major milestone was the implementation of the Phase 3 (metropolitan) of the new Planning and Design Code.   This marked the culmination of six years of political and bureaucratic bumbling, and a massive budget blowout.   The process was marked by endless revisions and delays and a manifesto that grew from 3,000 to 9,000 hard copy pages with the overall documentation totalling 75,000 paper and electronic pages. This is to be compared with the average of 700 pages which previously encompassed the planning process in local Councils.

The construction of the Code was developer- driven, lacked transparency and failed to adhere to the Community Engagement Charter mandated under the new legislation.  Eighteen community organisations have expressed their concern about the lack of genuine consultation in an open letter to the Planning Minister.

The Government has ignored or failed to address issues of community participation, rights of appeal, poor quality infill, suburban high rise, loss of heritage, trees and green space and the impacts of climate change.

Once again, this Alliance and the community at large will monitor the impacts of the Code on our heritage and lived environment as it is rolled out and will call the Government to account if and when our negative predictions are realised.

On the day the Code ‘went live’, the Chair of the State Planning Commission, Michael Lennon resigned.  The reasons for his resignation are unclear, but it is possible that he doesn’t want to live with the practical consequences of the new Code.   He disappears having presided over an inefficient, lengthy, convoluted and confusing saga which will leave its disturbing legacy on the South Australian community for decades to come.

On the same day that the Code was implemented, the Premier launched his Election campaign with the announcement of a massive, insensitive and unnecessary $700 million development on the riverbank.   And the forum for this announcement was a Property Council luncheon.   This says it all about the Government’s priorities and the pivotal role of the building and development industries in determining the formulation and intent of the Code.

Yours sincerely

Warren Jones AO

Professor Warren Jones AO is the Convenor of the Protect our Heritage Alliance, a coalition of concerned organisations and individuals, working to protect our built and natural environment.   GPO Box 2021 Adelaide, SA 5001

Phone: 0419 852 622  Email: convenor@protectourheritage.org.au

www.protectourheritage.org.au       Facebook: protectourheritageSA

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