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October 12, 2022

‘Clear message’: Councillors oppose new WCH location

Adelaide City Council elected members have voted to oppose the revised location for the new Women’s and Children’s Hospital, which will require the demolition of the heritage-listed police barracks.

  • Words: Angela Skujins
  • Main image: The police greys at the barracks. This picture: Tony Lewis

At Adelaide Town Hall last night councillors supported a motion requesting that Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor write a letter to each member of the Legislative Council urging them to “reject any future legislation” leading to the development of the new Women’s and Children’s Hospital at Tulya Wardli Park 27.

Last month the State Government unveiled plans to bulldoze the state heritage-listed Therbarton police barracks, in the Adelaide Park Land’s northwest pocket, to make way for a new $3 billion Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

This is a looming catastrophe.
—Phil Martin

The Lord Mayor’s letters would encourage politicians to vote against any future legislation leading to “any loss of state heritage listed buildings through demolition”, the motion states.

It would also include point out the State Government’s “lack of consultation” with the Adelaide City Council, Kadaltilla / Adelaide Park Lands Authority and the community.

“The Lord Mayor may wish to make a comparison with the previous Government’s approach and subsequent design changes achieved via consultation with Kadaltilla / Adelaide Park Lands Authority and Council,” the motion states.

Premier Peter Malinauskas has said the government will introduce special legislation to expedite the planning process for the hospital’s new location, InDaily reported. Health Minister Chris Picton later told InDaily the laws would be subject to debate and a vote in Parliament, including oversight from Parliament’s public works committee.

Adelaide City Council administration staff stated in their report to the council that they had “progressed a request” for the Department of Health to provide a brief to the council and Kadaltilla on the site’s development.

“The State Government is exploring the Police Barracks site through the development of a Master Plan,” the administration report says.

“It is understood that no official Development Application has been lodged with the State Planning Assessment Commission.

“The State Government has indicated it is not pursuing the regular process of development approval through the planning system, rather it is considering special purpose legislation.

“Should the Motion on Notice be supported by Council, Administration will support the Lord Mayor to write to each member of the Legislative Council.”


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North ward councillor Phillip Martin, the architect of the first half of the unanimously supported motion, said the reviewed site for the Women’s and Children’s Hospital was a “double whammy” that worked against the City of Adelaide.

“It means the Park Lands Act has been torn up,” he said.

“It means… heritage listings being torn up for the police barracks.

“This is a looming catastrophe.

“[My] proposal is a simple measure that will send a clear message to the legislative council what the City of Adelaide is seeking.”

Martin later said construction could negatively affect the council’s attempts to achieve World Heritage listing for the Adelaide Park Lands, as the green belt’s figure-eight loop would be “compromised”.

Render of the proposed new Women’s and Children’s Hospital, on the site of the current Thebarton Police Barracks adjacent to Bonython Park. This picture: supplied


South ward councillor Alexander Hyde – responsible for the second part of the motion, carried 5—4 – told the chamber that the State Government “not consulting” with the Adelaide City Council about the revised location was “delivering a poor design outcome” for the city.

Hyde, a member of the Liberal Party SA, said he wanted his amendment to reference the prior Marshall Liberal Government as they had “bothered to engage” with the Adelaide City Council and its subsidiary statutory bodies, he said.

“We were able to at least influence the outcome to deliver a less worse option,” Hyde said.

“The footprint of the car park was greatly reduced with that proposal.

“Here is a better way to go about crafting public policy and engaging with people who are responsible and have custodianship with the park lands – and your advisory board, appointed by you, who has a wider skillset than you – to make sure things are at least sympathetic to their surroundings.”

South ward councillor Keiran Snape voted against the amendment, saying the letter’s reference lauding the prior government’s consultation success was “too politicised”.

North ward councillor Mary Couros supported Hyde saying the tweak would encourage the government to engage with the Adelaide City Council, giving them “a seat at the table” to negotiate.

Central ward councillor Franz Knoll, also in support, said if the council continued “excluding” themselves from the dialogue, by suggesting as a blanket statement they did not “want to discuss” with the government, the city’s rate-payers would be at a detriment.

“So putting a [line in a] little further saying that ‘we do want a consultation, and we do want to be involved’, and at least have an opportunity to put [forward] a position that our community prefers and at least influence an outcome, is a good position to have,” he said.

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