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North Adelaide tram comes before Le Cornu redevelopment: councillors


Adelaide City councillors are divided on whether there should be a tramline to North Adelaide but agree that, if one is to be built, the State Government should get it done before work starts on the old Le Cornu site.

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The State Government intends to ask its yet-to-be-established Infrastructure SA body to assess the merits of a tram service to North Adelaide before making any commitment to it.

As InDaily reported yesterday, the multimillion-dollar Festival Centre tram stop on King William Road, which leads to O’Connell Street, will host only an infrequent service on weekends and public holidays.

The recently constructed King William Road tramlines and the stop would serve only a minor function unless it acts as a precursor to a future tram service to North Adelaide.

City councillors Natasha Malani and Phil Martin land on opposite sides of most debates, but they agree on this: a tram extension to North Adelaide along O’Connell Street would be a coup for the suburb.

They say it would help to underwrite the success of the council’s prospective development of the old Le Cornu site – which has stood vacant for nearly 30 years – and help turn North Adelaide into a “destination” rather than a “thoroughfare”.

“We want O’Connell Street … to be a destination in its own right, where people go to shop and where people go to eat, where they spend time, they spend money,” said Malani.

“North Adelaide is the first tram extension that this State Government should look at delivering … the sooner, the better.”

She said the development of 88 O’Connell Street would viable whether a tramline was built or not, but that a tram there would make retail and apartment sales there more attractive.

“The project doesn’t rely on a tram … (but) it would enhance the offering,” she said.

Martin told InDaily a tram service to O’Connell Street would help “reinvigorate the entire suburb” and encourage more people to ditch motor vehicles in favour of public transport.

Area councillor Anne Moran said North Adelaide was already well served by public buses and that trams “would just congest the street”.

“North Adelaide is amply catered for by public transport,” she said.

“We congest our street when we have got trams and buses (and cars, sharing the road).”

She conceded that North Adelaide residents would probably be in favour of trams – a “romanticised” form of transport, in her view – but argued that the disadvantages of a tramline there outweighed the advantages.

All three councillors said the Government needed to make a decision about the North Adelaide tram extension – and fast.

A council committee meeting last night heard that council staff expect to be running temporary activations on the long-vacant 88 O’Connell Street site for about two years before works to develop the site get underway.

It’s the first public indication of a rough timeline for the promised development.

The council’s strategic plan envisions upgrades to the footpaths, road, lighting and greening along O’Connell Street as part of the development.

“If the tram construction goes ahead and it isn’t completed by the time 88 O’Connell is completed, it could delay the public realm upgrade,” said Martin.

That would come with “a lot of additional costs, which is a waste of ratepayers’ money”.

Moran told InDaily: “I’d rather they not do it (but) if you are going to do it, do it quickly – do it sooner rather than later.

“If they’re going to do it, do it (within) two years … tram lines are massively disruptive.

“When we finally want to sell the … retail and apartments (constructed as part of the 88 O’Connell Street development) it would be nice if whatever they’re going to do is well finished.”

Malani added: “We don’t want two major projects clogging up North Adelaide at the same time.”

All of the councillors said the 88 O’Connell Street development should go ahead regardless of the decision on the tram extension.

A State Government spokesperson told InDaily the bill to establish Infrastructure SA was before parliament.

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