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Govt overrides council on hospital height

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The State Government has gone over the head of Adelaide City Council development assessors, today moving to rezone the site of a new St Andrews Hospital building  on Hutt Street to allow the addition of an extra storey.

Approval for the fourth storey of the under-construction hospital building was knocked back last month by Adelaide City Council’s Development Assessment Panel.

But a Ministerial Development Plan Amendment released by the State Government this morning alters the principles in the city’s development plan that the panel relied upon in making its assessment.

The DPA will begin interim operation today – meaning the new rules are immediately in place and the developer can resubmit the project for reassessment. The DPA will rezone only the area of the development.

The under-construction hospital building, on the corner of South Terrace and Hutt Street, is currently located in a part of Adelaide zoned residential, which incorporates some height and development restrictions.

“The current residential zoning is proving to be an impediment for St Andrew’s Hospital to expand and improve on medical services in the area,” Planning Minister John Rau said in a statement released to InDaily.

“This was evidenced by a recent decision of the Adelaide City Council Development Assessment Panel to refuse a fourth-level addition to a new medical centre with state-of-the-art chemotherapy services.

“Broadly the council has recognised the need for rezoning changes and pursuing these – however this makes the decision by some narrow members of the council all the more confusing.

“I am ensuring that we can achieve the best possible health outcomes as soon as possible.

“Given the strategic importance of medical facilities to South Australia, I have decided to address this issue as a matter of priority, and common sense, and undertake a specific Ministerial rezoning.”

The Development Assessment Panel (DAP) knocked back the hospital plan because the panel ruled it was at odds with the desired character and height of the area, and didn’t have enough car parks to cater for expected demand.

The DAP is made up of members of the City Council and lanning experts.

The motion to reject the proposal was put and seconded by two expert members of the panel – planning consultant Ruan Perera and Planning Institute of South Australia president Iris Iwanicki.

The State Government’s DPA attempts to deal specifically with the panel’s objections.

The DPA says current zoning is at odds with the hospital’s current use, and further at odds with the government’s future plans to turn the area into a medical hub.

“The current policy applying to the St Andrew’s Hospital precinct does not reflect the current land use pattern, nor would it enable the medical precinct to evolve into the future.

“Further, the built form and land use policy is inconsistent with the directions of the 30-Year Plan as it relates to South Terrace.”

The DPA sets a desired height level of four storeys, and says developments which do not meet car parking guidelines should still be considered on merit.

Knocking back the application for the extra storey drew immediate outrage and threats of legal action from the development’s proponent, developer James Arsenikakis.

Arsenikakis, who has employed former Rann Government spin doctor Jill Bottrall and current chair of the State Government’s planning review Brian Hayes QC to support his bid, claimed two of the councillors who sat on the assessment panel should have declared conflicts of interest and withdrawn themselves from the decision, the City Messenger reported.

InDaily has requested an interview with Planning Minister John Rau.

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