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Council's funding showdown on half-finished Vic Square

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Lord Mayor Martin Haese says a future city council should finish what Stephen Yarwood’s council started, endorsing a State Government declaration that the council is primarily responsible for redeveloping the southern half of Victoria Square.

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This evening the council will consider its response to an updated draft of the Government’s 30 year plan for Greater Adelaide, which says that the council is “to deliver the southern half of the Victoria Square / Tarndanyangga redevelopment”.

The council will meet to debate a recommendation from its staff, that the council ask for the line to be removed from the document.

But Haese told InDaily he doesn’t believe it should be.

He said it was primarily the council’s responsibility to upgrade the southern half of the square after it completed the northern half at a cost of almost $30 million in 2014.

“Would it be reasonable to expect that we would complete what we started? Of course it would,” said Haese.

“My personal view is that I’m sure that council would welcome a partnership [with the State Government] however Victoria Square is principally a council project, to be completed at a future date.

“We’ll tackle that project in our next [2020-2024] strategic plan.”

He said it was appropriate to reconsider upgrading the southern half of the city’s central square from 2020, because “this will coincide with the likely redevelopment of the adjoining Central Market Arcade [and] we should ultimately finish what we started”.

But Haese is likely to face a battle with some of his councillors – should he and they be re-elected – who argue that the council should not countenance more works on Victoria Square unless the State Government commits to helping fund them.

“If the government isn’t interested, I see no reason the council should be interested,” north ward councillor Phil Martin told InDaily.

“I couldn’t support any proposal for an improvement to Victoria Square without adequate funding from the State Government.

“As always, I seem to be at odds with the Lord Mayor.”

Martin agreed with Haese, however, that the design elements of any future Victoria Square upgrade would depend on the features of a redevelopment of the Central Market Arcade, due in 2020.

City of Adelaide Minister John Rau has previously criticised the six-section design of Victoria Square as “a completely failed piece of design” and suggested some of the State Government’s $20 million parklands fund could be used for further Victoria Square upgrades.

However, the State Government has made no funding commitments for any future Victoria Square redevelopment.

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