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Council revs up heritage listing for ex-CBD car race circuit

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Adelaide City Council is considering whether to seek state heritage listing for the 3.2 kilometre former Grand Prix and Supercars track in Victoria Park and city streets, due to its “strong cultural or spiritual associations for the community”.

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The Adelaide Park Lands Authority will tonight discuss a report outlining how the Victoria Park racetrack, including the famous Senna Chicane, could be protected on the state’s heritage list.

The report was prompted a council decision to investigate heritage listing for the site, following an unsuccessful city residents’ group campaign to remove large parts of the concrete and bitumen track.

According to the report, compiled by the Adelaide City Council, it is unlikely that the racetrack within Victoria Park (Pakapakanthi/Park 16) would be considered for state heritage listing on its own.

However, the council argues there is potential for the 3.2-kilometre Adelaide 500 circuit as a whole – including surrounding city streets – to be listed.

Under state laws there are several criteria which define whether a place is of heritage significance.

The Adelaide City Council argues the circuit, which once hosted the Adelaide Grand Prix and then an Adelaide 500 Supercar fixture before it was cancelled by the Marshall Government, meets the criteria as it has “strong cultural or spiritual associations for the community or a group within it”.

But it has recommended that councillors defer nominating the circuit to the South Australian Heritage Council “pending further investigation”.

“A significant section of the community places a great deal of value on the motorsport track given its use over 34 years for, at first the Adelaide Grand Prix and then the Adelaide 500 super car event,” the report states.

“Noting that the Formula 1 circuit was some 0.8km longer than that used for the Adelaide 500 race, it is recommended that any nomination of the circuit for State Heritage listing be deferred.

“Any such nomination requires further consideration regarding the integrity of the remaining fabric of the street circuit.”

The report also highlights “implications for adjacent stakeholders and Council’s ability to undertake roadworks” as reasons not to rush nominating the circuit for heritage listing.

“It is recommended that, in the meantime, the story and significance of Park 16, including that component of the circuit (with reference to the circuit as a whole) continues to be told through the development of on-site interpretive signage,” it states.

The Marshall Government decided in 2020 to back advice from the SA Tourism Commission and not renew a contract to hold the Adelaide 500 event in a bid to “drive a new era of events” for South Australia.

The Government argues that the race, which had been held in and around Victoria Park since 1999, was too costly and risky to run amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

At its peak in 2008, the Adelaide 500 drew in a crowd of more than 291,000 people, but the SA Tourism Commission claims ticket sales diminished in later years.

Labor has pledged to bring the race back if it wins the March state election, despite moves by the SA Tourism Commission to sell-off the event’s infrastructure.

In October, a city residents’ group lobbied the council to remove large parts of the concrete and bitumen track at Victoria Park and plant more trees.

But councillors instead asked the council to provide two reports outlining landscaping options and the potential for heritage listing.

Victoria Park racecourse buildings, including the grandstand, eastern gates, turnstile building, kiosk and former Adelaide Racing Club offices are already listed on the state’s heritage register.

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