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Eleventh-hour bid to force consultation on Oval Hotel

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Deputy Lord Mayor Houssam Abiad says he is willing to make a last-ditch attempt to force Adelaide Oval management to publicly consult on its $42 million Oval Hotel before construction starts.

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The Adelaide City Council’s administration is set to wave through an application lodged on Friday to start work on stage one of the $42 million Adelaide Oval Hotel development.

According to the application, the total works would cost $700,000 and involve “selected demolition of façade and architectural elements associated with the Eastern Grandstand” as well as construction on the five-storey building.

Both the SMA and council administration said the approval is a standard procedure following on from the granting of “planning consent” by the State Government’s Planning Assessment Commission in December.

“These stage 1 early works essentially get automatic approval as long as the building documents are consistent with the documents that were granted planning consent,” the council’s associate director of planning, design and development Shanti Ditter said.

“Our staff have completed an initial consistency check and there are no issues to not allow the granting of Stage 1 Development Approval.”

Ditter told InDaily the council’s administration did not have the ability to reject final approval, despite elected members unanimously voting in December to oppose the Oval Hotel construction.

Councillors at the time argued the 128-room, five-storey hotel would impinge on the park lands and would have an unfair advantage over other hotels in the CBD.

Under legislation brought in by the former State Government, any development undertaken within the Adelaide Oval “core area” is automatically given Category 1 development status.

That status means developers are not obliged to provide public notice or formal public consultation about their plans before approval is granted.

“The developmental approval relates to the building rules consent for the Stage 1 early works package, which is a standard procedure in line with design progression and finalisation,” a spokesperson for the SMA said.

“There will be additional consent packages submitted in the coming weeks for the remaining portions of work.”

Abiad described the development approval process for the Adelaide Oval Hotel as “unfair” and “very illogical”.

He told InDaily this morning he would seek to move a motion calling on the council to reaffirm its opposition to the hotel and to lobby Planning Minister Stephan Knoll to change the project’s development status.

“I’ve always said all along that this needs to be pushed to be a category 3 development and it must – it should – go out to a wider public consultation process where the community is being heard before a development takes place,” he said.

“I think it’s very unfair and I also think it’s very illogical given the amount of community angst that this has created.

“It has a significant impact on all ratepayers in the precinct, especially ratepayers that are going through investment – development of hotels, etcetera.

“All we can do now is to affirm our position and ask the Minister again to change the category and to at a minimum get it out to public consultation.”

The idea has support from area councillor Arman Abrahimzadeh, who said that while the “horse had bolted” on the Oval Hotel development, a motion could “hopefully bring to the Government’s attention that public consultation is a good idea”.

“Hopefully that would set a precedent for any other project that SCAP (the State Commission Assessment Panel) approves,” he said.

“Regardless of the size of a project, there should be some form of public consultation.”

But area councillor Anne Moran and north ward councillor Phil Martin both opposed the idea, saying the council had no power to stop the Oval Hotel development from going ahead.

“While I laud Houssam’s last-minute attempt, the development has been approved and it can’t be unapproved,” Moran said.

“Though on the surface it looks a bit hypocritical, we aren’t being asked to give approval, just waving it through.”

Martin said the council should instead consider lobbying for a change of development status for the proposed multi-million-dollar Adelaide Football Club headquarters at the side of the ageing Aquatic Centre at Park 2.

InDaily contacted Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor for comment.

In a statement to InDaily, a State Government spokesperson said category 1 status was granted to the Adelaide Oval Hotel in accordance with legislation.

“The Adelaide Oval Hotel is underway and will be a great project that supports hundreds of jobs and ensures the Adelaide Oval continues to be a world-class stadium,” the spokesperson said.

The SMA announced in June that local construction company Built Environs had won the tender to build the Oval Hotel.

The hotel is expected to be completed and ready to accommodate paying guests by September next year – in time for the T20 World Cup.

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